On Monday, Georgia head coach Mark Richt announced that Virginia QB transfer Greyson Lambert will start for the Bulldogs this weekend against Louisiana-Monroe.
Ever since Lambert announced his decision to attend the University of Georgia, we have waited for the announcement of who would win the starting position, Lambert or Brice Ramsey. And on Monday that question was answered. Now as Georgia and Lambert ready themselves for the 2015 season, the question will be just how good can Lambert be and can he lead this team to a title?
Last year, a really good Georgia team was led by sub-par quarterback play out of Hutson Mason. Don’t get me wrong, Mason had a good season if you just look at the numbers. But anyone that watched a single Georgia game knows that Mason was the less important sidekick to Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb on that offense. Mason did a good job; he just didn’t win a single game by his play alone. But I can’t help but think if quarterback play had been better, how much better could the Bulldogs have been?
That simply cannot be the case in 2015.
Since Mark Richt arrived in Athens, quarterback play has been good rather than not. He began with David Greene who helped produce Richt’s first SEC title followed by a one year stint from D.J. Shockley who helped bring a second SEC title, Joe Tereshinski, whose play was forgettable, Matthew Stafford, Joe Cox and Aaron Murray.
As it stands now, Richt is 4-3 when it comes to getting great play out of his quarterbacks. Georgia cannot afford “okay” quarterback play. Not playing for a chance at a national title is wearing thin on Georgia fans, and rightfully so. Georgia has all the pieces this year. A great defense, multiple skilled running backs including a Heisman hopeful in Nick Chubb, a great offensive line and playmakers surrounding Lambert on the offensive side of the ball.
This leads me to my next point. Sub-par quarterback play will not get you a national championship. Just take a look at the past 10 national championship winning teams and the quarterbacks that led them. From 2014 going back to 2005 they are Cardale Jones, Jameis Winston, AJ McCarron, Cam Newton, Greg McElroy, Tim Tebow, Matt Flynn, Chris Leak and Vince Young.
With the exception of not having enough tape on Cardale Jones, six of these quarterbacks were great in college, Chris Leak was really good and the other two, McElroy and Flynn, would be considered game managers. And even those last two had pretty good numbers during those championship runs. Game managers don’t win national championships. It just doesn’t happen as often anymore.
Richt needs Lambert to be really, really good. No, I don’t think Lambert has to be a Heisman dark horse in order for Georgia to have a shot this year. But he does have to play better than I expect him to. In 2014, Lambert failed to throw a 60% completion rate and threw more interceptions than he did touchdowns. Yes, I realize it's Virginia but some of that was just bad decision making. Lambert will see an upgrade at every offensive position while in Athens. His decision making will have to improve and it doesn’t hurt knowing Nick Chubb is behind you when you go under center.
But good just isn’t going to be good enough. Lambert will need to put his team in winning positions if I am to believe this team has a shot at the playoffs. Sept. 19 against South Carolina should give us a look at Lambert in his first big test, followed by tough road games against Auburn and Tennessee and a home date with Alabama. Georgia has little room for error when it comes to 2015; the least of those errors coming from newly announced starting quarterback Greyson Lambert.
— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails