Greyson Lambert needs to be the man for UVA on Saturday

greyson lambertThe struggles of Greyson Lambert as the new starting quarterback at UVA have been well-chronicled, here and elsewhere. If Lambert even just manages the game against then-seventh-ranked UCLA in the opener two weeks ago, the Cavs pull off the monumental upset, and nobody outside of Bryant Hall ever knows that Matt Johns throws a nice deep ball.

But as we know, Lambert threw two pick-sixes in the first half against UCLA, left with the ‘Hoos trailing 21-3, and Johns led a comeback that had Virginia within one score for most of the second half in what turned out to be a 28-20 loss that nonetheless turned a lot of heads in Virginia’s direction.

Last week against Richmond, the pair split time at QB, with Lambert getting the start, going 13-for-15 for 102 yards and a touchdown, but Johns getting a fair amount of time as well in the second and third quarters of what became a 45-13 win, throwing a touchdown pass for good measure.

London has been noncommittal about who will get the start this week with #21 Louisville coming to Charlottesville, but it will be Lambert, and one has to assume if Lambert plays the role of game manager that he couldn’t get down for UCLA that we won’t see Johns against the Cardinals.

Which is to say, Lambert doesn’t need to throw for 400 yards, six touchdowns, get anybody in the press box to make a mental note about voting him for the Heisman. Coach Mike London and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild aren’t game-planning that way right now.

“We want them to be efficient and productive in throwing the ball where it needs to go,” London said of the expectations of his quarterbacks in his weekly press conference on Monday. “If they can do that and play close to the coaches’ scripts that we have for them, then they can be productive. This past week, this past game they were productive, both of them. That’s what we always strive for. Productive, being efficient, and being able to carry the game plan message as they’re managing the game out there on the field is critically important.”

The focus is going to be on controlling time of possession against the offensively dynamic Cards, who put up 66 in a win over I-AA Murray State last week, and are averaging 469.5 yards per game and more than 37 minutes of possession per game in their two wins, The more the Virginia offense can churn out first downs and eat clock, the more that rests the Virginia defense, which has forced nine turnovers and recorded nine sacks through two outings, including getting five sacks of preseason Heisman Trophy top candidate Brett Hundley, who also lost two fumbles.

So, no offense to Matt Johns, but here’s to hoping that he spends Saturday on the sidelines sending in signals to his good friend, Greyson Lambert, because if that ends up being the case, it means that Lambert is having the kind of game that London and Fairchild have been expecting from him since naming him the starter coming out of spring.

– Column by Chris Graham


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