We'll soon be moving on with our customary summer programming. But first, let's take one more look at Greyson Lambert's decision to transfer to Georgia and enter the sweepstakes to replace highly successful quarterback Hutson Mason*. This time, we're talking to Matt Ellis from SB Nation's excellent University of Virginia site Streaking The Lawn. Matt has some cautionary notes regarding Lambert, but also has some pretty encouraging observations. Give it a read.
MD: Why exactly was Greyson Lambert available in the first place? In other words, how did he go from starting a majority of the 2014 season to wanting out?
Matt: Coming into the 2014 season Lambert was the clear-cut starter for the first time since he arrived at UVa, but he struggled early in the opening game against UCLA and was replaced by backup Matt Johns who played well in a comeback that fell just short. Throughout the rest of the season the two split time at the position, Lambert started nine games and attempted 261 passes while Johns started three games and attempted 162 passes, and neither played well enough to keep the other on the bench permanently. The competition was expected to continue into this season but Johns was named the starter after spring practice and Head Coach Mike London claimed, “It wasn’t close.” Lambert stated he would win the job back but seemingly had a change of heart, decided to transfer about three weeks later, and found his way back to Georgia.
MD: Coming out of high school the scouting report on Lambert here in Georgia was that he had prototypical pro style QB size, an above average arm, but was still pretty raw. How has he evolved from those days?
Matt: At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Lambert certainly looks the part and he has ideal size for the position. Despite possessing pretty good arm strength though, he averaged only 6.25 yards/attempt and completed just 59% of his passes last season. These numbers are in part due to an offensive strategy that emphasized running directly into the line and ineffective swing passes, but even taking that into account Lambert’s performance was not always stellar.
Another issue for Lambert is that he’s not particularly mobile and UVa’s offensive line struggled last season, which often meant he was forced to check it down or throw it away to avoid taking a sack. Overall, if he were given a solid offensive line and decent running game to help alleviate the pass rush I think he has all the tools necessary to be an effective quarterback.
MD: What is the word on Lambert off the field? Any disciplinary issues? Was he known as a partier around campus, or a strong team leader? Please tell me he doesn't drive a moped. Please.
Matt: By all accounts Lambert was a model citizen on and off the field. He was one of four players elected by the team to serve as a captain last season and was the only underclassman chosen. Off the field he seems to have excelled academically as he was able to graduate in just three years and thus preserve two years of eligibility while still being able to start immediately. However, my sources can neither confirm nor deny whether he does now, or has ever, owned a moped.
MD: What were both the high and low points for Lambert during his UVA career?
Matt: This is a tough question as Lambert’s stat line and performance were pretty consistent from week to week without a lot of peaks and valleys. For a high point, I’d choose the 23-21 victory against Louisville last season. While his numbers were not great (13/24, 162 yards, 1 Passing TD, 1 Rushing TD, 1 INT), he put together a long scoring drive in the second half to give Virginia a bit of a cushion and ultimately led the program to its first win over a ranked opponent since 2011. His low point probably came in that season opener against UCLA last year that sparked the quarterback controversy. Lambert threw two interceptions in the first half, both of which were returned for touchdowns, and that put the team in a 21-3 hole in the second quarter that was too much to overcome.
Our thanks to Matt for his insights. I was particularly interested in the bit about him being able to succeed somewhere with a good offensive line and a decent running game. Hey ! Georgia has a good offensive line and a decent running game! I'm a little less enthused by his lack of scooter info, but I guess we'll just have to take our chances. Until later . . .
*I really enjoyed typing that last bit. Was it obvious?