Bill Shanks

It’s time for Eason to start

Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason throws a pass toward the sideline during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against North Carolina on Saturday in Atlanta.
Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason throws a pass toward the sideline during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against North Carolina on Saturday in Atlanta. jvorhees@macon.com

There is nothing fun about a quarterback controversy. Forget not having a defense and watching the other team score at will. Shuffling quarterbacks in and out may drive you even more mad.

Ask Auburn. The revolving door for the Tigers on Saturday against Clemson was plum hilarious. Good grief Gus, just settle on one and let it roll.

It says you don’t have one if you have to play more than one, but that’s not the situation at Georgia. It was last year, but not this season. For the Bulldogs, this “controversy” is simply a process of trying to determine when the player we know is going to get the job will get the job.

As expected, while Greyson Lambert got the start, Jacob Eason threw the most passes. Eason wasn’t perfect, but he was more impressive than Lambert — likely because Lambert really isn’t very good.

This is going to be Eason’s job. He’s the hotshot quarterback who had the most stars a prospect can have as a high-schooler. Lambert is a quarterback who started at Virginia and then was allowed to leave, and we saw why last year with his ordinary ability.

Everyone has known Eason for a couple of years, just like we all knew Matthew Stafford and Eric Zeier long before they got to Athens. The expectations for Eason are ridiculous and likely unfair, but that comes with the territory with recruiting being an out-of-control passion for football fans who build up high school kids.

So now, Georgia must decide which quarterback to start Saturday in the cupcake game with Nicholls State. Head coach Kirby Smart said after the win over North Carolina there is no plan, meaning the coaches are going to once again test both in practice this week before making a decision.

Let’s make the decision for him, and he already has made it clear he really doesn’t care (nor should he) about what the rest of us think about his quarterback. Eason should start. Let his true tenure as Georgia’s quarterback begin with significant playing time against a team that should be out of it by halftime.

Smart and his offensive coordinator Jim Chaney need to see Eason in a game situation without having Lambert warming up on the sideline. Sure, if Georgia gets the huge lead and Eason’s work is done, then put Lambert in. But that back-and-forth, Auburn-type stuff needs to be over with. There is no need rotating these two quarterbacks.

It would be different if one of the quarterbacks was different from the other, but they’re both slow drop-back quarterbacks. If one were a running quarterback who could offer something different, that would be one thing. But these two offer a similar skill set.

The difference, however, is that Eason’s skill set is light years better than what Lambert has to offer. Sure, Lambert offers experience. Well, that’s not needed against Nicholls State. Eason needs the experience. He needs the snaps, and he needs the practice to prep for the rest of the season.

And Georgia needs to stop this weekly question of who will start at quarterback before it gets out of hand. Let the folks at Auburn do that.

Georgia has two tough road games coming up before one of the biggest games of the season — Oct. 1 against Tennessee. The Bulldogs will play at Missouri next week and then Mississippi the following week before playing the Volunteers. Eason needs to be the quarterback then to give Georgia its best chance to win. And he needs to get the snaps this weekend to prepare for that responsibility.

The cautious approach Smart and Chaney are using is not wrong. They want to ease Eason into the job instead of throwing him into the fire. Stafford started the third game of his freshman season in 2006, and while Zeier got significant snaps early on Zeier didn’t see his first start until the sixth game of the 1991 season.

But it’s time for Eason to take the job. He needs to start against Nicholls State so Georgia can get ready for the rest of the season with him at quarterback.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow

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