Lambert still in charge as Georgia opens year

Lambert still in charge as UGA opens year vs. UNC 

Greyson Lambert went 10-2 as a starter for the Bulldogs last season. Still, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound quarterback never quite endeared himself to the football fanatics in Athens.

Of course, Kirby Smart couldn’t care less about any misadventures from last fall. The first-year Georgia head coach is zeroed in on the here and now, and that means endorsing his senior signal-caller as the No. 1 guy entering today’s 2016 opener vs. North Carolina. According to online sports book BetDSI, UGA represents a 3.5-point favorite at the Georgia Dome. The over/under is 58.

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Despite throwing for 1,959 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions a year ago, Lambert didn’t necessarily fulfill the expectations that accompanied his move to the Peach State. A graduate transfer, the Mobile native frequently relied on Nick Chubb and then Sony Michel to generate the big plays as the Bulldogs’ campaign wore on. That makes this afternoon’s opportunity against the Tar Heels a tantalizing one to display that substantial strides have been made. UNC ranked 13th in the ACC in total defense (435.9 yards per game) and last in run defense (247.4 yards) in 2015.

With respect to the latter category, Chubb may not be able to churn out his typical all-world numbers just yet. This marks his first appearance since suffering a devastating knee injury last October, and Smart would do well to ease him back into the fray. Potentially complicating matters, though, is the fact that Michel’s also in rehabilitation mode. The junior, who broke his left arm in an ATV accident on July 4, failed to partake in contract drills in preseason camp.

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It would stand to reason, then, that Elijah Hood may actually grab the lion’s share of the spotlight coming out of the backfield. North Carolina’s sparkplug amassed 1,463 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore, and he’s poised to become even more important with Mitch Trubisky still learning the ropes at QB. We know that the Tar Heels can put points on the board, period. The questions becomes which school can muster the requisite defensive stops to come out on top.

 

SATURDAY NCAA FREE PICK: NORTH CAROLINA/GEORGIA OVER 58 POINTS

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