ATHENS, Ga. — Get ready for another week of quarterback musical chairs at Georgia.
Just don’t expect to hear what the guys battling for the job have to say about it.
Heading into their third game of the season, the 16th-ranked Bulldogs (2-0) are still trying to settle on a No. 1 signal-caller. Fifth-year senior Greyson Lambert started the opener , freshman Jacob Eason got the nod in the second game , and both played in each contest.
While the highly recruited Eason is clearly the long-range plan, coach Kirby Smart said again Monday that neither quarterback has done enough to change the week-to-week approach he’s been taking with the most prominent position on the field.
Expect Smart to wait until the end of the week to announce his decision on a starter for Saturday’s Southeastern Conference opener at Missouri — just as he’s done the last two weeks.
“I feel a sense of urgency to get the best guy on the field to give us an opportunity to win each game,” the rookie coach said. “If that means getting one guy ready, then that’s what it would be. Right now, we’re not in a position to do that. Right now, we’re in a situation where we’ve got two quarterbacks that are both developing, both a part of the game plan, and we want to continue to do that.”
Smart has made both quarterbacks off-limits to the media. Eason hasn’t spoken to reporters since signing day, while Lambert — who started 12 of 13 games a year ago after transferring from Virginia — hasn’t been able to speak publicly since guiding Georgia to a bowl victory over Penn State on Jan. 2.
Following the policy of his mentor, Alabama coach Nick Saban, Smart has declared that all true freshmen — Eason included — won’t be available.
His reasoning is a bit more muddled when it comes to Lambert, who is 22 years old and has been a starter at two different schools.
“Greyson is not the starting quarterback,” Smart said. “He’s a great influence on our team. He’s been very positive. But that’s a decision I stand by. For now, we’re not going to put those guys out there.”
The strong-armed Eason gives the Bulldogs more potential for big plays in the passing game, but he’s still learning the nuances of being a college quarterback — everything from checking out of plays to running the huddle in a timely fashion, especially late in the game.
Those duties are much more familiar to Lambert, which is why he was on the field at the end of last Saturday’s surprisingly close 26-24 victory over FCS school Nicholls. He completed a key pass on third-and-7 that helped the Bulldogs avoid a shocking upset.
“It’s a situation where if one guy dominates during the week, that guy will play,” Smart said. “But within every game we’ve got a situation where another quarterback has to be ready. You’ve got to have two quarterbacks ready for the most part anyway. We just want to get the best guy out there.”
Eason has completed 19 of 32 passes (59.4 percent) for 335 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. The Bulldogs have been much more conservative when Lambert is on the field, completing 7 of 11 for 56 yards. He’s yet to throw a touchdown or an interception.
After watching film of the Nicholls game, Smart sounded like he’s still torn over who gives his team the best shot at winning.
“Jacob made some mistakes, but he also made some really good plays,” the coach said. “Then Greyson came in, and for a guy who came off the bench, did a great job of manufacturing a third down — bad snap, made a good read, made a great throw and did what we asked him to do. So, I was very proud of how he managed the situation that he was brought into.”
As for the remaining players, at least the ones allowed to speak to the media, they’re shrugging off the ongoing issue of who’s starting at quarterback.
“That’s up to coach Smart,” safety Dominick Sanders said. “It doesn’t affect us.”
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org