- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Mark Richt and first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had a difficult time making up their minds, but Georgia’s coach finally announced his starting quarterback Monday.
“There may be others that get in the game, but he’s the starter,” Richt said. “It’s been a very, very close competition, and it’s still being contested. But at this point, we felt it was wise to name the starter and get him the reps with the No. 1 unit.”
Let’s take a look at five things to know about the Bulldogs’ starting decision:
1. He has a significant experience advantage. The 6-foot-5 Georgia native was one of Virginia’s team captains last season, starting nine games for the Cavaliers. He finished last season with 1,632 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and completed 59 percent of his passes. In two seasons, Lambert appeared in a total of 16 games. Leading contender Ramsey appeared in eight games last season for Georgia as a redshirt freshman, completing 24 of 39 passes for 333 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Ramsey got all of that experience under previous offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, however, and had the advantage of only one set of spring practices more than Lambert in working in Schottenheimer’s system.
2. However, Lambert lost his starting job at Virginia. Lambert was only available to Georgia because he decided to transfer after losing his starting job to Matt Johns in the spring, becoming the seventh scholarship quarterback to transfer away from UVA since 2011. Lambert completed his degree requirements this summer, enabling him to transfer to Georgia without having to sit out a season. But there is nothing appealing about losing a job at Virginia. Yes, Lambert will have more potent skill talent around him (hello, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel!), but he needs to perform more consistently if he expects to hold onto this job.
3. Don’t rule out Ramsey. Ramsey and Lambert had apparently separated from Bauta in recent practices, sharing the first-team reps while Bauta had been relegated to second-team status. Many around the program expected Ramsey to win the job after serving last season as Hutson Mason's backup. The redshirt sophomore had his moments last season, such as when he went 5-for-5 for 80 yards and a touchdown in a win against Kentucky. He has the superior arm and a ton of talent, but ...
4. Lambert might be the safer option. Georgia is not only breaking in a new offensive coordinator, it has limited experience at receiver. Aside from senior Malcolm Mitchell, the Bulldogs nearly have zero proven options at the position. That makes a quarterback with starting experience even more valuable. According to practice reports, Lambert has played it closer to the vest in the passing game. He doesn’t take as many chances as Ramsey, who has some gunslinger in him, and that might have played a role in the coaches’ decision. Ramsey was also a mess in Georgia’s bowl win against Louisville and struggled to pull away from Bauta in the spring.
5. He won the job on short notice. Lambert didn’t arrive at Georgia until July 13 and practiced for the first time with the Bulldogs on Aug. 4. That’s not much time to separate himself from guys who preceded him in the program. Although Richt said the coaches liked what they saw of Lambert on film from his UVA days, he noted that he won the job solely on the merits of what he accomplished in practice since arriving in Athens.