Greyson Lambert needs to be the guy for UVA

greyson lambertIt was obvious before last week’s 23-21 win over then-#21 Louisville that UVA coach Mike London needed to just go with Greyson Lambert as his quarterback.

And then that game with Louisville. Backup Matt Johns came in after a Lambert second-quarter interception. Johns’ first drive started at the Virginia 48, and the Cavs got a first down before the drive stalled at the Louisville 41. His second came after a Virginia interception set Virginia up at the Louisville 17, and ended with Johns throwing an ugly pick on third-and-three on a ball thrown into traffic in the direction of the end zone.

The third and final drive with Johns at quarterback started at the Louisville 38 and did result in three points when Ian Frye kicked a 35-yard field goal that sent the ‘Hoos to the locker room with a 10-7 lead. But you had to have the feeling at the time that UVA left some points on the board, at least three, maybe more.

In a game that came down to a late fourth-quarter field goal that gave Virginia a two-point win, it’s not hard to think that the brief appearance by Johns, who finished the game 3-for-6 passing for nine yards and the INT, did more harm than good.

Lambert isn’t going to make anybody forget about Jameis Winston, but his day – 13-of-24 passing for 162 yards and a touchdown, along with the interception – was at the least efficient. More to the point, he’s been the starting quarterback since the spring, and his ugly game against UCLA aside, he’s the face and leader of this team.

London has left it vague as to who he considers his #1 at QB; the depth chart still lists Lambert or Johns as the starter, though we all know that it will be Lambert running out with the offense for the Cavs’ opening possession at BYU on Saturday.

Barring injury or an utter collapse in terms of performance, and no, a single turnover does not qualify as an utter collapse, Lambert needs to be the man out there on each subsequent possession.

London has had a clear issue deciding on and sticking with a single guy at quarterback – even last year, when David Watford, now the third-stringer, started all 12 games, he went to Lambert early and often in relief, and the 2012 season was arguably blown up by London’s inability to decide between Michael Rocco, the 2011 starter who had led Virginia to an eight-win season, and Alabama transfer phillip sims.

The 2014 ‘Hoos are on the verge of a turnaround that will not only get the program out of the ACC cellar and into bowl contention, but also save London’s job. But before they can reach those modest heights, their coach needs to settle on a signal-caller.

– Column by Chris Graham



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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

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