Georgia vs. Louisiana-Monroe
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Sanford Stadium, Atlanta
On TV: SEC Network
ATHENS — The big quarterback decision has been made. That clears the way for No. 9 Georgia to sharpen its focus on the season.
Players reacted with no surprise to the news Greyson Lambert will start in Saturday’s opening game against Louisiana Monroe.
“My personal reaction? Let’s go,” said senior wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell on Tuesday. “Let’s play football. Now we know who’s going to lead the team. So it’s his job to make it happen.”
Lambert, the transfer from Virginia, won the job over Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta. Coach Mark Richt announced his decision on Monday. Richt and players say it was a close race.
“I trust all three,” said tight end Jeb Blazevich. “I’m thankful I didn’t have to make the choice.”
Added Mitchell: “I don’t think I would have been surprised regardless who he picked. Like I said, they did such a good job of rotating them, you could have picked any of the three and I feel like everything would have been in sync.”
Richt said last month he might let the competition extend into the opening game. Instead, he decided it was important to choose a starter and let him spend a full week with the first-team offense.
That made star tailback Nick Chubb happy.
“I like for things to be settled down and know who is going to play so you can plan on that,” Chubb said. “So I’m happy that we have a quarterback going into the first game.”
It’s possible the race isn’t over. Lambert needs a strong showing against ULM to support Richt’s decision.
“I think also, depending on how he plays and how he does, those two other quarterbacks are going to be right behind him,” Chubb said. “I don’t think it’s really over. I just think it’s a starting point for the season.”
Richt said Tuesday he may play more than one quarterback this week but doesn’t plan on a rotation at the position. He wouldn’t say how many snaps he hopes to give to a backup.
Ramsey was the top backup to 2014 starter Hutson Mason.
The depth chart released on Tuesday indicates no separation between Ramsey and Bauta as the backups. Georgia listed Bauta second but noted that was aligned alphabetically.
The quarterbacks were not made available for interviews on Tuesday.
Asked early in the practice schedule how he could win the job, Lambert said “Just be consistent. That’s football. Consistent play, down after down.”
Lambert started nine games for Virginia in 2014, completing 59 percent of his passes for 1,632 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He missed three games with an ankle injury and then lost the starting job in spring practice.
The experience as a starter at Virginia helped Lambert at Georgia. He also earned respect by learning Georgia’s playbook quickly and reporting early to work out this summer with his new teammates.
“Just going through the summer workouts, he was running with us and lifting with us,” Blazevich said. “That’s really where you build relationships and trust. He just worked alongside of us. He didn’t come in expecting anything. He came in with a humble and hungry heart. That’s what we need.”
Richt said the decision was made after reviewing video of every snap in scrimmages with first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
“He covered a lot of ground in a pretty short time as far as figuring things out, so you have to give him credit for that,” Richt said.