After a two-week hiatus for vacation and SEC Football Media Days, we resume …
THE TEN AT 10:
1. There are places where quarterbacks are promised the starting job if they decide to come to school there. Georgia is not one of them.
I just wanted to make that clear.
I heard from way too many people at SEC Media Days last week about David Pollack’s proclamation on ESPN that he expects Greyson Lambert to be the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback when they open the season Sept. 5 against Louisiana-Monroe. It was relayed to me as if Pollack had some inside knowledge to that effect.
I didn’t hear Pollack’s comments myself and I couldn’t find a video, audio recording or a direct quote as to exactly what he said. I even reached out to the folks at ESPN for clarification, which they were unable to provide before this writing.
But I can tell you with no uncertainty — it’s a guess.
As coach Mark Richt said himself upon hearing Pollack’s thoughts, “he’s probably got a 33 percent chance of being right.”
“Does he know? I don’t know how he would know,” Richt said when asked about Pollack’s prediction on 680 The Fan’s “Chuck & Chernoff” radio show. “I think the reason David is doing what he’s doing is he’s never had a problem just spewing stuff out. So we’ll see. … If it turns out to be Greyson I’m sure he’ll be pounding his chest about it.”
2. So, again, any notion that Lambert transferred to Georgia from Virginia because he was promised the starting job is ludicrous. That’s not how the Bulldogs or most Power 5 programs roll. I did speak to one non-Power 5 coach who expressed regret for not promising a starting job to Lambert. So it does happen at other places.
But not at Georgia.
That said, I do believe Lambert has an outside shot to win Georgia’s starting job in preseason camp, which opens two weeks from today. Certainly, Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta have a considerable head start. But it has been nearly seven weeks since Lambert announced his intention to join the Bulldogs. He has had their playbook in hand since that time. And though Lambert has been living in Athens only since July 13, he made several trips down to Georgia this summer to participate in the Bulldogs’ voluntary workouts and throwing sessions.
“He walks in with the ability to compete is the best way to say it,” Richt said. “(But) we don’t have a pecking order right now. The goal is to give guys enough reps to see what they can do and try and find an answer for us. We are going to give Brice and Faton and Greyson the opportunity to practice, and compete and just observe what they do. Whoever we think is best suited to be the guy will be the guy. That is all there is to it.”
3. People don’t like to believe this, but competitions such as the one Georgia is conducting for its starting quarterback position are done very meticulously and methodically. Certainly there are some judgment calls and hunches involved from the coaching staff. But by and large it is a measured, quantifiable endeavor in which very little is left to chance.
When the quarterbacks are on the field in preseason camp, every pass they throw and football they hand off and play they call will be charted and graded. Likewise, every move they make on the field will be chronicled on video and broken down later by an offensive quality control specialist.
The quarterbacks also will be drilled in the meeting room daily. In fact, they have been during their two hours of weekly meeting time all summer. They’re put on the spot and asked to quickly identify coverages as they watch on video. They’re given written tests on the playbook and on the opposition’s defensive alignments and tendencies.
These things aren’t left to chance and there is no favoritism or politics involved. Coaches whose livelihood depends on success or failure don’t base it on whims. At the end of the day, it might be so close that a coach’s “gut feeling” is all that separates one guy from the other. But by and large this will be an academic pursuit.
And I wouldn’t be surprised to see more than one play, not only in that first game, but for a while.
4. Last thing on the quarterbacks: I also believe this to be a fact and not a feeling — Lambert’s presence in Athens has absolutely nothing to do with Georgia’s level of confidence in either Bauta or Ramsey. This, plain and simple, is all about depth.
Ohio State stands as the shining example of why schools not only need to have more than one quarterback they can depend on, but three. I remember hearing of one season in which Georgia went through five quarterbacks (1977 I think). The Bulldogs knew a while back they were in jeopardy of losing Jacob Park, who recently decided to transfer to Navarro Junior College in Texas. They could not afford to go into the season with two scholarship signal-callers and one walkon.
Lambert may well win the job or he may not. But he’s in Athens today because Georgia had to have some depth. And if it wasn’t him or Everett Golson, it likely would have been someone else.
5. Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell was clearly the star of this year’s SEC Media Days. The senior wide receiver was a runaway hit as he unveiled the new children’s book he has written and used the venue as a platform for his “Reading with Malcolm” literacy initiative.
Mitchell also weighed in on some on-field subjects as well. He pronounced himself as fit as he has been in the last three years and fully recovered from the knee issues that have plagued him the last two seasons.
“I count it as a blessing to go through as many procedures as I went through in that small time frame and still be able compete at such a high level with such great athletes out there,” Mitchell told me. “It’s truly a gift.”
6. Because of his good health, Mitchell has been able to participate in voluntary workouts for the first time in two summers. As a result, he has been able to get an up-close and personal look at the new additions to Georgia’s receiving corps.
“All the young guys are talented, probably the most talented I’ve seen come through as a group in a while,” he said. “They have a lot of ability to make plays. I’ll leave it up to the coaches to decide which ones are ready to play or not. But if you asked me I’d say they all have the ability to.”
7. You may recall all those one-handed-catch videos that Mitchell posted to his Instagram account a little while back. Well, they’re gone. He took them down.
“I shut them down,” he said. “It was fun, but the attention I was getting from it wasn’t the main reason for doing it. It was out of fun. And once I saw it was getting beyond that point, it was time for me to make sure everybody was focused on Georgia football and not Malcolm catching one-handed passes. So I took them down. Maybe I’ll put them up some other time, but timing is everything.”
8. One of the lighter moments of Georgia’s session in the big room at SEC Football Media Days last week was when a reporter asked Richt if he ever got tired of the constant criticism he receives for having come up short for a championship each of the last nine years.
“I didn’t know I got criticism,” Richt quipped, feigning incredulousness. “It’s just the nature of the beast. If you can’t take criticism, then you shouldn’t coach.”
9. Bailey Tardy, an incoming freshman for the Georgia women’s golf team, rallied from being two shots down with two holes to play to capture the 113th North & South Amateur Championship on the 20th hole at the famed Pinehurst No. 2 course on Friday.
“It was just a tough match,” Tardy said. “We never conceded any holes. Nothing was conceded except for putts, short putts. I think we both played really well, and we were both exhausted.”
Tardy, a native of Norcross defeated Anna Redding 4-and-2 in her semifinal matchup on Friday morning and then bested Bethany Wu in the title match in 20 holes. Tardy is the first representative of the Georgia women’s golf program to win the prestigious amateur event, which lists Babe Zaharias and Louise Suggs among its past champions.
“I’m really good friends with (Wu), and I played a round with her, I think the second day, so I knew how she was hitting it and that she wasn’t going to let up anytime soon,” Tardy said. “It was going to be a good match from the get-go, and it was.”
Tardy entered the 16-golfer match play bracket as the No. 7 seed after three rounds of stroke play qualifying and upset three higher seeds en route to the championship. She defeated 10th-seeded Alexander Rossi and second-seeded Lori Beth Adams, the 2014 North & South runner-up, on Thursday. Tardy dispatched third-seeded Redding and fourth-seeded Wu on Friday.
Georgia golfers Lee McCoy and Manuela Carbajo Ré earned medals on Sunday in the mixed team portion of the Pan Am Games at Angus Glen Golf Club.
McCoy, a rising senior for the Bulldogs and a Habersham Central graduate, led the Americans to a 4-day total of 24-under 552 to take second behind Colombia’s 27-under 549. Carbajo Ré, also a rising senior for the Georgia women’s team, helped Argentina come in third at 10-under 566.
Individually, McCoy came in fourth at 10-under 278 in the men’s competition. He carded rounds of 70, 68, 69 and 71. Amira Alexander and Carbajo Ré finished 11th and 14th, respectively, in the women’s tournament. Alexander closed with an even-par 72 on Sunday, while Carbajo Ré carded an 9-over 81. Alexander finished at 15-over 303. Carbajo Ré played the first 54 holes at a combined 8-over before completing the tournament at 17-over 305.
This was the first time golf has been a sport at the Pan Am Games. Golf will make its Olympic debut at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
10. The 16th FINA World Championships will be held in Kazan, Russia, Thursday through Aug. 9. Representing UGA and their respective nations will be: USA swimming — Melanie Margalis (former), Shannon Vreeland (former), Nicolas Fink (former), Chase Kalisz (rising senior, but redshirting 2015-16 to train for Olympics); USA diving — Laura Ryan (former), Ginger Fields Huber (former), coach Dan Laak (entering 29th season); Finland swimming — Matias Koski (rising senior) Canada swimming — Chantal Van Landeghem (rising senior, but redshirting 2015-16 to train for Olympics).