After years of quarterback stability, Mark Richt's final season at Georgia was full of disappointment at the position. Greyson Lambert, Brice Ramsey and, for one disastrous start against Florida, Faton Bauta struggled. The Bulldogs' offense sputtered along with them.
New coach Kirby Smart inherited that less-than-ideal situation, although he has a trump card that he might play as soon as this season: true freshman Jacob Eason, ESPN's No. 1 pocket passer in the 2016 class and the No. 13 overall prospect on the ESPN 300.
Does first-time head coach Smart want to rely on a rookie starter in his debut season? We shall see. That's one of the SEC's most intriguing quarterback questions as the season approaches.
2015 in review: Lambert started 12 games last year after transferring from Virginia -- most notably the win over South Carolina where he set an NCAA record for completion percentage (96 percent) by completing 24 of 25 throws for 330 yards and three touchdowns. But overall, he did little to spark Georgia's passing game, finishing the season 162-for-256 for 1,959 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. Ramsey attempted a pass in seven games, finishing 21-for-35 for 249 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Between them, they led the No. 10 passing offense in the SEC (185.1 ypg).
What's the buzz? "The [more] help we're able to put around him, the better he'll be able to do. I think if Jacob ever for one second, let's just say he's the player, he's the starter -- which I'm not ready to say, but if he was -- he can't try to win the game. We need to be good on defense to help with whoever the quarterback is, especially if it's him." -- Smart at the SEC car wash in July, on the possibility of naming Eason the starting quarterback
Key weapons: Georgia's quarterback should have injured running backs Nick Chubb (1,547 rushing yards in 2014 and 747 last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury in October) and Sony Michel (1,161 rushing yards and eight TDs last season) both available at some point early in the season. That will be of great help because the passing game lost its only consistent weapon, Malcolm Mitchell (58 catches, 865 yards, five TDs), from a year ago. Terry Godwin (35-379, two TDs) is back as are wideouts Reggie Davis (12-187, TD), Isaiah McKenzie (10-123), Michael Chigbu (4-28) and Jayson Stanley (2-23) and tight end Jeb Blazevich (15-144, TD). The Bulldogs also added five-star tight end Isaac Nauta and ESPN 300 honorees Charlie Woerner and Riley Ridley in the 2016 signing class.
What to watch: Keep an eye on what happens with Chubb and Michel as they return from their injuries. If Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney expect one or both of those stars to be available in Week 1 against North Carolina -- and it seems like Chubb is the more likely participant in the opener at this point -- they might be more willing to give Eason a shot against the Tar Heels. They might prefer a veteran quarterback's leadership in the opener if the running game is more of a question mark.
Next in line: Even if he is not Georgia's quarterback of the present, Eason is almost certainly the quarterback of the future. He's the only quarterback on the roster who is an underclassman. Lambert is a senior this season and Ramsey is a fourth-year junior.
Grade: C. Based upon on-field performance to this point, Georgia's preseason grade is as low as it has been in years. Lambert is an average quarterback and while Ramsey has a higher ceiling, he also struggles with his decision-making at times. Eason's potential at least gives Bulldogs fans hope that the quarterback problems of 2015 will soon be behind them.