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Cocktail Thursday: North Carolina Edition

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Georgia v Auburn

If one of the most popular players on your favorite college football team just got relegated to the position usually revered as ‘"the most popular man on campus’ you could probably use a drink. Allow me to help.

This morning Kirby Smart and Jim Chaney made the incredibly unpopular decision to start Greyson Lambert ahead of Jacob Eason against North Carolina on Saturday. It was the right move. Let me explain why.

First, because unlike that ill-considered tattoo you got on Spring Break in Panama City, it’s an easy decision to reverse. There’s nothing that prevents Chaney from inserting the freshman on the second offensive series, even the second play. And he will insert Eason at some point on Saturday, of this I am absolutely certain.

Second, Greyson Lambert’s ceiling is low, but his floor is relatively high. Greyson Lambert completed 63.3 % of his passes during 2015 and threw 2 interceptions versus 12 touchdowns. Those aren't Heisman numbers. But they’re better than those of a solid majority of college QBs. I know we all like to make Lambert jokes, but the fact remains that two separate sets of professional football coaches have made the self-interested decision that the guy gives them the best chance to win football games. That's no accident.

Third, there will come a time when Jacob Eason can be counted on to tune out the noise, be adjusted to the speed of the college game, and not try to win the game all by himself. Given Chaney’s record, I’m willing to take him at his word if he’s implying that might not be the case at precisely 5:33 p.m. Saturday, September 3, 2016. There's a huge difference between saying Eason can make all the throws, and that Eason can make all the throws in game action right now. While he will need to ‘"take his lumps’, there's a real difference between that and just throwing him out there to get the crap beat out of him. It’s a really, really fine distinction. Since I haven't seen a lot of what Eason and Lambert have done in practice, I’m relying on Jim Chaney to figure out when the time is to throw Eason out of the boat to sink or swim.

Jacob Eason isn't going to redshirt. He’s still very possibly going to be the starting quarterback at the University of Georgia by Halloween. Every indication has been that he’s progressed remarkably since arriving on campus, and I would argue that's the only reason he, as a true freshman, came this close to beating out a fifth year senior who’s started more than a dozen games for both an SEC and ACC program. That speaks well for both players. I think it means Lambert has probably improved since January, and that Eason has as well.

So let’s lay off Greyson Lambert. Hell, let’s toast to him with a Lambertini.

To make one you'll need to do a little prep work using a staple pantry item of our Carolina opponents: Cheerwine. It’s a cherry-flavored soft drink that turns everything it touches bright red. And it’s awesome. It’s even more awesome when you use it to make a Cheerwine reduction.

To do this you start with 2 cups of Cheerwine and 3 tablespoons of cherry jelly. Place both in a saucepan with a twist of lemon. Bring to a low boil then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently until the mixture reduces by half. It took me about 25 minutes, but you need to stay vigilant. This stuff will burn. And then it will taste like cherry charcoal, which ain't what we’re after.

Once the mixture is reduced remove the lemon peel and allow the elixir to cool in the fridge. You should have enough for 4-6 drinks, depending on how heavy your pour is.

You could shotgun the stuff out of a squeeze bottle and frankly I wouldn't blame you. But what I would recommend you do instead is add 3 ounces of good vodka and 1 ounce of vermouth to a chilled martini glass.

Then dash in as much of the Cheerwine reduction as you like. Too much can be a little cloying, and will remind you of something the female antagonist in a Carrie Underwood song would order in a honky tonk. Just the right amount will add a nice complement to a good vodka martini.

We’ll be back for the first Thursday night open thread of the season shortly. Until then, let’s raise a glass, and...

Go ‘Dawgs!!!