Georgia's Jim Chaney having fun amid quarterback competition

Georgia first-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is having to choose a starting quarterback among Greyson Lambert (background), Brice Ramsey and Jacob Eason.

During his four seasons as Tennessee's offensive coordinator, Jim Chaney helped quarterback Jonathan Crompton improve throughout his senior year in 2009 and then oversaw the development of Tyler Bray.

After arriving at Arkansas in 2013, Chaney discovered a program that had enjoyed aerial success with Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson but was left with untested sophomore Brandon Allen.

Chaney is now the offensive coordinator at his third Southeastern Conference locale, and the situation he is encountering at Georgia is different from previous stops. The Bulldogs have an ongoing competition among Greyson Lambert, Brice Ramsey and Jacob Eason, with Lambert having won 10 games a year ago and with Eason the top-ranked quarterback nationally in the 2016 signing class.

"This is a little unique in that I think we have three kids who can go out and perform on the field, and I have not had three guys who can go out and play," Chaney said Saturday in a news conference. "Everybody has their opinion on the quarterbacks. It's a polarizing position. You get a victory, you get told how great you are. You get the losses, you get told how bad you are. That kind of comes with it.

"This also is a unique situation with the age group of these three kids we're competing with right now to find out who is going to play and who is not, so it's been a lot of fun."

Chaney and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker were made available to the media Saturday for the first time since their hirings, which for Chaney was mid-December. New Georgia head coach Kirby Smart lured Chaney from Pittsburgh, where he spent just one season but had an impact.

Pittsburgh went 8-5 a year ago and finished runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division with Tennessee transfer Nathan Peterman at quarterback and having lost All-ACC tailback James Conner before the season with a knee injury.

"One of the key reasons I went after Coach Chaney was his quarterback development," Smart said. "I saw what he did at Arkansas and then with Tyler Bray and also the (Matt) Simms kid at Tennessee, and then he had a transfer come into Pitt last year. I have a lot of respect for his development at quarterback.

"I've been able to sit in some of his meetings, and it's very knowledgeable for me as a coach to hear how he talks to the quarterbacks about the defense."

Georgia's offense set multiple program records in 2012-14 under coordinator Mike Bobo, who left after the 2014 regular season to become head coach at Colorado State. Brian Schottenheimer was hired to replace Bobo but struggled a year ago, as the Bulldogs ranked 10th in the league in both passing offense and total offense.

Chaney scored some early points with Smart and Bulldogs fans by keeping Eason committed, but now he's challenged with determining a starter in a battle that so far sounds pretty even.

"On any given day, I like one a little bit more than the other," Chaney said. "As the volume comes in, it gets a little tougher on some of them. Some can handle a little more volume than others, but that doesn't necessarily make you the best player and the one we're going to choose. At the end of the day, every one of us are human beings, and, like quarterbacks, we have fleas.

"We're not all perfect, so they have to figure out what they do good and do it as best they can and work on their weaknesses. I feel comfortable in saying they are all doing that right now. The competition is hot and it's alive and it's very competitive, and it's been fun to watch them."

Letting graduates go

Less than two days after Alabama coach Nick Saban insisted he would adhere to league policy and not let former Crimson Tide defensive back Maurice Smith play for Georgia as a graduate transfer, Smart said he "absolutely" would allow graduate transfers to play elsewhere in the league.

"Every young man that we want to bring here to the University of Georgia, we want them to graduate from this place," Smart said. "If they have an opportunity to go to graduate school at another place, I certainly think that that's something we're going to let them do."

Smart this spring blocked the transfer of running back A.J. Turman, who was not a graduate student, to other SEC schools or to Miami, which is under the guidance of former Georgia coach Mark Richt.

Odds and ends

Junior nose tackle John Atkins will miss some practice time, according to Smart, with a hyperextended knee. Tucker said Saturday that he will call the defensive plays but Smart will be heavily involved. Chaney on junior running back Nick Chubb: "He's a downhill-running son of a gun, so let's hand him the ball and see what he can do."

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.