Bill Shanks

Test Eason early to see if he’s ready

Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason (10) is a true freshman with the Bulldogs.
Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason (10) is a true freshman with the Bulldogs. Georgia Sports Communications

There is nothing like a quarterback dilemma to get a football fan based fired up. These quarterback issues seem to happen more frequently than in years past, as college teams have almost admitted “game managers” might be more important than stars under center.

In Athens, we haven’t quite seen anything like this in years. There’s a new head coach in town, Kirby Smart, and at the same time there’s a new hotshot quarterback knocking on the door.

Freshman Jacob Eason is likely to start at some point this season. The question is just when it’s going to happen. This is likely not an “if” question, but a “when” question.

Greyson Lambert was last year’s starter. He’s not very good. Who cares what his record was last year as the starter. The bounce passes we saw late in the season were all we needed to understand why Virginia didn’t cry when Lambert left as a graduate transfer.

Brice Ramsey is also there. He’s also the punter. If he had played in October in Jacksonville, Florida, instead of the third-string quarterback, we might know more of what Ramsey offers. But the former head coach wanted to seal his fate by doing something we will never understand.

So does Smart just turn things over to Eason? Some believe it might ruin Eason’s confidence if he’s in too early and struggles. Well, if that’s the case, this young man is not as special as we have been led to believe.

Sure, Eason is going to struggle, regardless of when he makes his first start. No freshman quarterback is completely ready from day one. But a start for a quarterback is a big deal. Georgia can get Eason playing time, but handing him the keys to the car as starter is a critical decision.

I’d rather start Eason from day one, in what could be a good game against North Carolina, compared to throwing him out there in a big SEC game. Does Georgia really want Eason to start his first game Oct. 1 against Tennessee? If he starts Sept. 3 in week one, Eason would at least have four games under his belt before the game that might determine the season.

Georgia’s offensive line gives me the most reservation about throwing Eason out there too soon. It’s sounds shaky right now, so could a waiting a few weeks to see how the linemen come together buy Eason more time to prepare?

What about the impact of the running back situation? If Nick Chubb and Sony Michel prove they are healthy, all Eason might be doing anyway is turning around and handing the ball off. So do you put pressure on the running backs to give Eason more time?

This is something I go back and forth on, as many likely do. Is it going to break Georgia’s season either way? Probably not. Were Eric Zeier, Matthew Stafford or Aaron Murray ruined because of their timetables? Probably not. They were all big talents like Eason and turned out fine.

But it’s certainly is fun to talk about anyway. To think we’re spending the month of August wondering when an 18-year-old is going to take over an offense is a bit crazy, but it’s football. That’s one reason why we love it.

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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