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Reacting To Mason's First Start As UGA's QB

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Fans got a glimpse of next year's likely starting quarterback Hutson Mason against Georgia Tech after Aaron Murray tore his ACL the week before. How did Mason do in his first start? Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images.
Fans got a glimpse of next year's likely starting quarterback Hutson Mason against Georgia Tech after Aaron Murray tore his ACL the week before. How did Mason do in his first start? Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images.

The Hutson Mason era officially began at Georgia as the Bulldogs took on the rival Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta on Saturday.

Although things started out a little slowly, Mason helped lead the Bulldogs to a 41-34 win in overtime.

So, how did Mason look in his first start for the Bulldogs? Does he have what it takes to lead Georgia back to the SEC championship game next year?

Mason's Performance

Mason finished the game completing 22-of-36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. He found seven different receivers, with Chris Conley leading the way with seven receptions for 129 yards.

Early on, Mason struggled to get things going. Through the first 28 minutes, he threw an interception, was sacked twice and only completed four passes for 43 yards. The Yellow Jackets had his number early. Throughout that time period, he never looked comfortable in the pocket, failing to progress through his reads.

But then something changed. A few completions for 71 yards late in the second quarter led to a touchdown and the Bulldogs had a little momentum heading into halftime.

Then, once the second half started, Mason got going as well. He completed 13-of-23 passes for 185 yards, looking a lot more comfortable in the pocket and progressing through his reads like Georgia fans had become accustomed to with Aaron Murray.

The biggest difference was he didn't face as much pressure in the second half that he did in the first half. That obviously helps with Mason progressing through his reads and having time to throw the ball. Of course, it doesn't hurt having Conley and Michael Bennett to catch footballs, either.

Next Year

The 2013 season was an obvious disappointment for Georgia fans as they thought they would be in Saturday's SEC title game. However, it didn't work out that way and now they're left wondering if they'll be back in 2014.

There's a lot to like about Mason's first start. He found his receivers and tucked the ball when he had to. The sacks are an issue the offensive line has to work on as Georgia Tech was in the backfield before Mason had a chance to react.

Now, with tape on his play, the real story will be if he can put up the same type of numbers on teams when they have an idea of what he's going to do.

With a healthy Keith Marshall and Gurley back for a full season next year, there's no reason to believe Mason can't lead the Bulldogs to an SEC title. As long as there is balance on offense, there's a lot to like about the possibilities the Bulldogs have next year.