I don’t believe Kirby Smart is playing a game. I don’t believe that one of his quarterbacks has been so far ahead of the other for weeks that it’s clear to him who should start Georgia’s first game against North Carolina.
I also believe he believes that whether Greyson Lambert or Jacob Eason starts won’t ultimately determine what kind of season Georgia has this season. Remember where Smart came from.
• There is no question that Eason is the most talented Bulldogs quarterback in camp. There is also no question that if he is ready to start, he will do so. If Eason was at that point, we would know that by now.
• Smart came from Alabama. How many great seasons has Alabama had when the quarterback was a relative afterthought going into the season — and maybe even during it and after it? Nobody knew who Alabama’s quarterback would be going into last season, and the Crimson Tide went on to win the national championship over a team (Clemson) with the best quarterback of all (Deshaun Watson). Nobody seems certain who the Tide’s quarterback will be this season, but the team is expected to contend for the title again and will enter the season ranked No. 1.
• This is not meant as a knock on Eason or his potential impact on Georgia. It’s merely to illustrate that Smart came from Alabama and worked for Nick Saban. He grew professionally in a culture where the quarterback was not what defined the strength of a program.
• Georgia will go this season as its running game (Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, offensive line) and its defense goes. Smart’s ability to implement his defensive philosophy quickly is key, which is why Maurice Smith’s transfer from Alabama could be key. The biggest concern is the Dogs’ defensive front, which is thin, particularly with the impending suspension of Jonathan Ledbetter.
• If the Bulldogs can play defense and run the ball, Lambert will be an adequate starter until Eason is ready. Eason will play in every game regardless, and he’ll start when coaches feel comfortable that he knows the playbook, can read coverages, feel the pass rush and not fall in love with his arm too much on difficult throws when he would be better served by throwing it away. I believe all of those are bigger factors than any fear of freshman “panic.”
• Lambert is not an awful quarterback. He’s just not a great one. I get that fans want “great.” But logic suggests Eason is not great now, and he’s more likely to be a liability against a strong team like North Carolina.
• Bottom line: Eason might be the best quarterback on the Georgia roster, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best quarterback today. So I lean toward starting Lambert next week and bringing Eason into the game in a relatively comfortable situation.
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