Greyson Lambert to Jacob Eason, back to Lambert and back to Eason.
That was the revolving door of quarterbacks in Georgia’s season opener. And while unable to consistently play one guy under center, it worked out in the end as Georgia beat North Carolina 33-24.
Lambert took the field for the first three series, and while the Bulldogs were able to score, North Carolina brought pressure as Lambert was sacked on three occasions. He finished with five completions and tallied only 54 yards in intermittent action.
Georgia decided to bring Eason into the fire on the fourth series, and the crowd was elated that they were finally going to see the former five-star recruit in action at the collegiate level.
While freshman mistakes were made by Eason, his ability to throw the ball downfield gave offensive coordinator Jim Chaney the opportunity to open up the playbook.
"You saw them open it up a little bit more when Eason was in the game, and it gave us some issues," North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora said.
Eason’s night was highlighted by a 51-yard dime to junior wideout Isaiah McKenzie. The freshman finished with eight completions, tallied 131 yards and recorded his first collegiate touchdown on a shovel pass, also to McKenzie.
While the freshman exhibited some potential, he made some questionable decisions, as well, so the experience and the game managing skills of Lambert are in the interest of the coaching staff, and they plan to continue the quarterback competition.
“There is no plan right now (in terms of quarterbacks),” Smart said. “We’ll assess the tape and make another decision. I don’t want to jump to any conclusion, but I do know that both kids competed hard in the game. We struggled a little bit with the execution with Jacob, as far as getting in and out of the huddle and communicating, but he’s got some other strengths.”
While the quarterback position was unsettled in Saturday’s opener, Smart indicates the levelheadedness and support of the two quarterbacks, regardless of who took the field.
Lambert, being a senior, could have gotten disappointed due to being benched, but Smart indicates his willingness to encourage his freshman teammate and was delighted with those efforts.
“I’m really proud of both of them, because I went to Greyson several times while Jacob was in there and he was cheering for him,” Smart said. “He wanted him to do well, and he knew that he was going to have an opportunity to come back in.”
McKenzie, the junior wide receiver and punt returner, serves as one of Georgia’s offensive leaders. After a career night in which he fell one yard short of his season total in 2015, with 122 yards, he was asked about the quarterback situation and whether it serves as a disruption among the team.
McKenzie believes that the group of wide receivers have to adjust, regardless of who takes snaps behind center. Whether it be the senior or the freshman, he believes his guys are ready for the task at hand.
“We, as receivers, have to make plays for the quarterbacks,” McKenzie said. “We have to do our jobs by catching the ball. That’s what we’re going to do every time, no matter who throws it.”