ATHENS -- It’s amazing how things can change for a football player in a couple of weeks. At halftime of Georgia’s game with Vanderbilt two weeks ago, there were fans in the stands taking bets on whether Greyson Lambert would even return to play in the third quarter.
Some were offering to drive him back to Virginia, where he played before transferring to Georgia.
Lambert had been that bad in the first 30 minutes that day in Nashville, Tennessee. And now ... well, you almost can’t write this script.
OK, it’s too early to book Lambert’s ticket to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. But the turn of events is extraordinary. Lambert looked like former Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith missing 3-pointers in that first half against Vanderbilt. Now, Lambert looks more like Larry Bird.
Never miss a local story.
He can’t miss.
Lambert was 0-for-5 passing in the first half against Vanderbilt, and then he missed on his first two pass attempts in the third quarter. But since starting 0-for-7 in Nashville, Lambert has completed 44-of-49 passes, a remarkable 90 percent completion mark.
He finished the Vanderbilt game 11-for-14. Then last week against South Carolina, Lambert set all sorts of completion records by hitting 24-of-25 passes. On Saturday in Athens, there was no drop off, as Lambert hit 9-of-10 passes in Georgia’s win over Southern.
Lambert was humble after Saturday’s game. It’s not like he’s a pitcher who has found his breaking ball. But there’s little doubt he now has confidence that might have been missing early on. He’s comfortable that this is his team and he can run offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense.
“I haven’t done anything differently,” Lambert said. “I’ve just kept playing. You’ve just got to keep playing. Bad things are going to happen, and good things are going to happen. Those that can keep playing and put those things behind them usually are going to be OK.”
Lambert admitted that getting on track in the third quarter against Vanderbilt likely made a difference. If he had continued to struggle, who knows if he would even still be the starting quarterback. But that strong second half got Lambert in a groove that has continued for two weeks.
“It definitely mattered,” Lambert said, “but not just to me but for the entire offense to be able to move and sustain drives in that second half against Vanderbilt and to be able to do it not just on the ground. Maybe that’s carried over; maybe it hasn’t. But ultimately it’s just come down to executing as an offense, and when we do that, we’re OK.”
We all knew after these first four games there had to be some stability in the quarterback situation. It was so unsettled in August even Mark Richt could not pretend it wasn’t a serious situation. But somehow, someway Lambert has quieted all concerns.
“He’s been on fire,” running back Nick Chubb said. “He did a great job (Saturday). He’s rolling. Hopefully, he’ll carry the momentum over to the next couple of games.”
And these next couple of games will define Georgia’s season. The four-game exhibition season is over, and the Bulldogs passed with flying colors going a perfect 4-0. Lambert’s competition this week will be different, as Alabama will stroll into Athens with plenty of five-star players on defense.
Chubb ran for more than 100 yards for the umpteenth time Saturday. But how much better is Georgia when opposing defenses now know the Bulldogs have a quarterback who must be respected? When Alabama head coach Nick Saban sits down this week to analyze Georgia’s offense, he’ll have to worry about a balanced attack and not just a team with a couple of great running backs.
“It’s one thing we’ve got less to worry about -- our passing game.” Chubb admitted. “It helps us out a lot.”
With the quarterback situation under control, there is a much more peaceful feeling now than the uneasiness in August. Lambert is on an amazing roll, and if he can continue to play well, Georgia might be better than most people thought.
It was the biggest question that had to be answered for this Georgia team. Look at the other teams in the SEC that are still struggling at the position. Something tells me they would like to have a Greyson Lambert on their roster about right now.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at www.twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org