Georgia’s in the third week of its regular season and a starting quarterback still hasn’t been finalized.
It may not be an ideal situation but it’s the position the Bulldogs have found themselves in.
One constant over the previous two weeks was that the quarterback running with the first team on Wednesday ended up the starter. As far as reporters could see on this particular Wednesday, freshman Jacob Eason was taking the first-team snaps at quarterback.
Even so, it’s still not set in stone who the starting quarterback will be when Georgia travels to Missouri Saturday.
On Wednesday’s SEC teleconference, head coach Kirby Smart said a decision wouldn’t come until at least after the day’s end.
"No, we’ve got to get through (Wednesday’s) practice and look at some things, and then try to make a decision from there," Smart said. "We’re not ready to do anything now."
Not having a set quarterback is not in Georgia’s best interest. But it could work in its favor in one area, considering Missouri doesn’t know how the Bulldogs will handle the quarterback position.
Georgia could start Lambert and bring Eason off the bench like it did against North Carolina. It could go with Eason and use him throughout, much like the Nicholls State game until the final two series. Or the Bulldogs could still start Eason and use a rotation with both quarterbacks.
Regardless, it has Missouri head coach Barry Odom concerned as to how Georgia approaches the position.
"I think, obviously, both are skilled quarterbacks," Odom said. "They present problems for us defensively. You’ve got to be aware of who’s in the game. They can do some of the same things and have had success doing it. I’m impressed with what they do on offense. It’s difficult to plan for them.
"Both quarterbacks are very, very skilled. To me, they efficiently run the offense. If your eyes are in the wrong spot they’re going to exploit it really quick. They’ve done a really good job, both of those guys."
One concern for Georgia would be how Eason handles his first true road environment at Missouri. Smart said the experience Eason got at the Georgia Dome against North Carolina in the season opener gives him confidence that he would be able to handle the crowd at Faurot Field.
"Jacob played a lot in the road game that we played, to me, in the Georgia Dome," Smart said. "So to me he’s proven he can play. Maybe it wasn’t as loud as it’ll probably be, and that’s a factor. But to me that was a road game that Jacob played some valuable minutes, that we were behind in. And did a good job. So that’s not the concern. You might say the crowd noise is, but it’s not the fact it’s a road game."
It’s unknown how the quarterback battle has gone or been perceived for the players themselves, or how each as approached it since the preseason began. Eason hasn’t been made available for interviews since National Signing Day on Feb. 3 and Lambert hasn’t spoken with reporters since the TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2. Smart said no quarterback will publicly speak until the quarterback battle is finalized.
After Georgia’s 26-24 win over Nicholls State, running back Nick Chubb said Eason was "a lot less nervous" in the huddle and improved in his management in between plays.
Eason started the game of 8-of-12 passing but finished 3-of-8 throwing from there, ending with a stat line of 11 of 20 for 204 yards, a touchdown and an interception. While he didn’t finish as strong as he started, Smart has seen growth from his true freshman quarterback.
Perhaps the trend continues, since Eason was with the first team on Wednesday, and he earns his second consecutive start in Missouri Saturday. If so, that’s a decision Smart is most certainly fine with.
"He’s in a good place mentally," Smart said. "Jacob had a couple of missed reads where he didn’t look at the right thing first when it came. He had some really good plays too. He stayed in the pocket, threw some good balls. He’s really at his best when he can make those downfield throws and shows a lot of skill on those throws. He handled the huddle much better than he did the previous game."