ATHENS, Ga. — The roughest stretch of Greyson Lambert's debut last Saturday as Georgia's starting quarterback occurred early in the third quarter, when the transfer from Virginia had consecutive pass attempts batted down.
How does that happen to a 6-foot-5 quarterback?
"It's obviously my fault, but a lot of people forget that those guys on defense are 6-5, too," Lambert said this week. "When they get pretty close to you and put their long arms up, it's a little bit different. Just because I'm 6-5 doesn't mean I can throw it over the Hulk or somebody, but I do have to find a way to get the ball around those guys."
Those batted balls resulted in a punt for the Bulldogs, who had their 35-0 lead in the first half against Louisiana-Monroe trimmed to 35-14 at that point. The teams then endured an hour-long lightning delay before Georgia regrouped and polished off the Warhawks 51-14 in a game that was called because of more bad weather with 9:54 remaining.
Lambert finished 8-of-12 passing for 141 yards and two touchdowns, earning rave reviews from coach Mark Richt after the game and, more importantly, after video study.
"He played very solid," Richt said. "There was not a pass that was thrown that shouldn't have been thrown. He did have two balls batted down, which is part of football, and there were two scramble situations where Greyson threw the ball where only we could get it.
"I like it when every ball that's thrown has a purpose, and it's a good purpose. It's not one that could have been picked or put us in harm's way."
Georgia netted just 67 yards in the first quarter but took a 14-0 lead on short fields that were set up by a shanked Warhawks punt and an Aaron Davis 26-yard interception return to the ULM 15. The Bulldogs had 200 yards in the second quarter and wound up with 435 — with the potential of 500, given the trimming of nearly 10 minutes from a normal 60-minute game.
Nick Chubb rushed 16 times for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while backup tailbacks Sony Michel and Keith Marshall combined for 16 rushes, 114 yards and two scores.
"The offense, as a whole, had a great game," Lambert said. "The offensive line opened up holes and protected me. The receivers made plays when their numbers were called. We've got a lot of weapons, and our stable of running backs is amazing."
Lambert was not asked to do much in the opener, but that could change Saturday if the Bulldogs struggle to get going at Vanderbilt. New Georgia offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer called 38 running plays against ULM and 14 pass attempts, with backup quarterback Brice Ramsey going 2-for-2 for 51 yards and a score.
Schottenheimer's run-oriented agenda was just fine for Lambert, who started nine games for the Cavaliers last season but lost his starting spot in Charlottesville this spring.
"I've thrown it 38 times before," Lambert said, "but usually when you're throwing it that many times, it's for a lot of negative reasons. I'm totally fine with just winning the ballgame however we can."
In fact, it's almost as if Lambert has opened this season as a "game manager," a term that repulses some quarterbacks — but not all of them.
"As a quarterback, I feel like we're supposed to manage the game," Lambert said. "People do that in different ways. Sometimes we'll spread it out, and sometimes we'll ground and pound, and however we have to play to win is kind of our job."
There has been a lot for Lambert to digest these past few weeks, beginning with the competition against Ramsey and Faton Bauta, who have more experience within Georgia's system. Lambert used wristbands for play-calling during his years with Virginia. Now he looks over to play cards being used by Schottenheimer.
Learning a new offense in such a short time obviously required intelligence, which Lambert put on display this week when he noted that Vanderbilt pressures quarterbacks 15 percent more on first and second down since Commodores head coach Derek Mason added defensive play-calling to his duties.
In addition to playing, practicing and studying football, Lambert is taking three graduate courses in sports management. He said he can still, somewhat amazingly, frequent the town's eateries without being recognized.
"If they do, they don't come up and say anything," he said.
Lambert actually enjoys that anonymity, though he realizes the little peace and quiet he has could be quite temporary.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.