Georgia’s most important players of 2016: No. 5, the backup quarterbacks

This is the eighth in a series that will run three times a week over the next four weeks, leading into SEC media days. 

Maybe Jacob Eason runs away with the quarterback competition and starts Georgia’s opener against North Carolina. Or maybe he doesn’t and the Bulldogs go with one of their two veterans on the roster, Greyson Lambert or Brice Ramsey. Or maybe Eason does get the nod in Game One, falters badly, and now they have to turn back to Lambert or Ramsey.

Any of those scenarios underscore the importance of whomever ends up being the understudy at quarterback for Georgia this season.

There is a strong possibility that all three quarterbacks will play this season, often if not on a regular basis.


Senior and junior, respectively


WHY HE'S VITAL: No matter who ultimately wins the quarterback competition for Georgia in preseason camp and comes into the first game as the starter, that individual best not get too comfortable — nor should the men that occupy the spots immediately behind him. One can be sure that offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jim Chaney will have a quick trigger if things aren't going well. Georgia's schedule is set up in such a way — with five of the first six games against Power 5 teams, four of them SEC games and four of them away from Sanford Stadium — that it can't afford to tolerate mediocre play at the most important position on the field. For that reason, all three quarterbacks would be well-advised to stay sharp and on top of their games not just throughout the camp, but well into the season.

QUOTABLE: "I recruited at Bama from down in Wayne County. I got to go down and see him and be around him. I've known him for a long time and he's grown up a lot. He has a lot of experiences from ACC to SEC, so he is a definitely a tenured quarterback. It's not really about the competition with him. He's worried about himself." — Georgia head coach Kirby Smart on Greyson Lambert

BEST CASE: Eason comes through and plays the way everybody believes he is capable. In that scenario, the Bulldogs once again can boast one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC and settle on the business of building their pro-style offense around him. That would also give Georgia some of the best depth in the league, with a 21-game starter in Lambert at the ready should he be needed.

WORST CASE: The Bulldogs' starting quarterback position ends up having a revolving door on it and the offense never settles on an established leader. If Eason or Lambert have any shortcomings — and Ramsey, to a lesser degree — it's mobility. That's not good news with Georgia breaking in new offensive tackles on both ends of the line of scrimmage. That could mean a lot of sacks, a lot of turnovers and possible injuries to the quarterback.

FINAL WORD: Georgia has had this scenario many times in the past, a hotshot freshman quarterback coming in with more experienced less dynamic veterans already in place ahead of them. And this is the way it usually goes: The veteran gets the starting call in the early games due to a stronger grasp of the concepts and playbook, while the coaches pick and choose spots to insert the talented rookie to get experience and get used to the speed of the game while having some success and maintaining confidence. Freshman Eric Zeier didn't start until the sixth game of he 1991 season while senior Greg Talley started the first five. Likewise, in 2006, senior Joe Tereshinski III started the first two games before being sidelined by injury. Freshman Matthew Stafford started the next two but was benched in favor of Joe Cox and then Tereshinski again before taking over for good in Game 8. Look for the Bulldogs to go with Lambert early but play Eason a lot until they feel comfortable with his ability to lead the offense.

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More on this series:

No. 12, Isaiah McKenzie

No. 11, the kicker

No. 10, Reggie Carter

ExploreNo. 9, Dominick Sanders
ExploreNo. 8, Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy

No. 7, Sony Michel

No. 6, Tyler Catalina