ATHENS, Ga. — Several months ago, the prospects of Greyson Lambert transferring from Virginia to Georgia, claiming the starting quarterback job and helping the Bulldogs to nine wins in 11 opportunities might have seemed like an appealing scenario.
Throw in the firing of coach Mark Richt after 15 seasons and the one-and-done departure of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, however, and Lambert's short stint in the Southeastern Conference isn't nearly as attractive.
New Georgia football coach Kirby Smart announced Tuesday that defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer would be retained from Mark Richt’s staff. Rocker and Sherrer are finishing their second seasons with the Bulldogs.
Smart was hoping to retain running backs coach Thomas Brown as well, but Brown reportedly is headed to Miami to become co-offensive coordinator under Richt, who plans to call the plays for the Hurricanes. Brown was a Georgia tailback from 2004 to 2007 and was Russ Huesman’s running backs coach at UTC in 2012.
Miami had not confirmed Brown’s hiring as of Tuesday evening.
"As a player you play the games, and everything else just kind of happens around you," Lambert said. "You don't really have any control over it. Our focus is on playing the games, so I can't really speak to all the other stuff that's happened."
Lambert paused before adding, "I came here not expecting this."
The Bulldogs held their seventh and final on-campus workout Tuesday morning for the TaxSlayer Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 2. Georgia players will reconvene in Jacksonville on Saturday.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Lambert had quite an opening act as an SEC quarterback, completing 8 of 12 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a rout of Lousisiana-Monroe and following that with a 24-of-25, 330-yard, three-touchdown performance in a 52-20 shellacking of South Carolina.
His 96-percent accuracy rate against the Gamecocks set an NCAA single-game standard, but any hopes of Lambert becoming the next David Greene, Matthew Stafford or Aaron Murray were dashed by struggling performances against Alabama and Missouri. Lambert completed just 10 of 24 passes for 86 yards in a 38-10 home loss to the Crimson Tide.
Lambert was briefly benched in favor of Faton Bauta before the annual showdown against Florida, but Bauta threw four interceptions during an embarrassing 27-3 setback.
"I definitely needed to be more consistent," Lambert said. "There were improvements compared to my last year at Virginia, but it wasn't good enough to get us where we wanted to be this year."
The loss to the Gators knocked the Bulldogs out of the SEC picture, but Lambert resumed his starting role and guided Georgia to triumphs over Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech to close out a 9-3 regular season.
Lambert will enter the TaxSlayer Bowl having completed 152 of 236 passes (64.4 percent) for 1,844 yards with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
"I think at times our passing game showed glimpses," Bulldogs interim coach Bryan McClendon said. "I definitely think there's always room to improve, so that's what we're going to focus on. You try to make it to where you're not one-dimensional at any point in the season and definitely not at any point in a game, and at times that happened."
Lambert describes this season as a "whirlwind" and a "roller- coaster" and points to the 20-13 victory at Auburn and the closing four-game streak as his favorite moments of the season. He admits that his record performance against South Carolina will be something he never forgets.
While Georgia has qualified for a 19th consecutive bowl, the longest stretch in program history, playing in the postseason is a first for Lambert. During his three seasons at Virginia, including a redshirt year in 2012, the Cavaliers went 4-8, 2-10 and 5-7.
Last season's Cavaliers were 5-6 and needed a win at Virginia Tech to qualify for a bowl, but they lost 24-20.
"I would be home right now doing nothing," Lambert said. "I would be watching all the bowl games. I used to love (ESPN's Capital One) Bowl Mania, so my dad, uncle, cousins and I would throw in a little pot and pick our bowls.
"That gave you an added incentive to watch some of the smaller ones."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.