The Dawning Of A New Day For Georgia At Quarterback
By Dan Mathews
For the first time in five years, the Georgia Bulldogs will be seeing someone not named Aaron Murray get first-team reps at quarterback. His name is Hutson Mason and he gets his chance at a full season in his fifth year of eligibility.
Most schools have to pretty much hit the re-set button and start a redshirt freshman or even a sophomore after an upperclassman moves on. Not Georgia. In fact, head coach Mark Richt is dealing with this scenario for the second time in almost 10 years.
Lets jump in the Delorean, gun it to 88, and head back to the start of the 2004 season. Leading up to that point, Bulldogs fans had gotten to know southpaw quarterback David Greene pretty well. No mistake of course, because the man was a four-year starter at quarterback and won 42 games in his career. Plus, he threw for more than 11,500 yards. At the time, he held almost every quarterback record at Georgia.
This stood until a guy named Aaron Murray took over as the starting quarterback in 2010. Before that, there was a guy named Matthew Stafford and he had a pretty good career in Athens as well. Back to Greene: After he left in stepped D.J. Shockley.
The point that I’m trying to make is that Georgia has been fortunate to keep its starting quarterbacks around. Second, the backups have been patient and waited their turn to start. Third, they’ve also been able to step in and succeed in their first season.
Hutson Mason now gets to step in for Murray, just as Shockley did back in 2004. However unlike Shockley, Mason has already gone through the battles of starting at quarterback. One game was a success and the other wasn’t. So the good news is he already knows how to win and lose in major college football as the starting quarterback. Richt thinks that will help him going into this season.
“I think he’s already earned the respect of his teammates with his work ethic and the way he’s practiced over the years,” Richt said at a press conference this week. “I think it was healthy for Hutson play, have some success and have some tough times too.”
Mason’s job should be a little easier this season with a senior-filled wide receiver group led by Chris Conley and Michael Bennett. Plus, he should have Malcolm Mitchell back from the torn ACL and he’ll also have speedster Justin Scott-Wesley, though, he’ll have to wait until after the season opener against Clemson for the latter. Scott-Wesley got himself in trouble with the law for marijuana possession.
Running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will return this season as well, though Marshall is out for the spring, coming back from the torn ACL against Tennessee. Gurley could be limited as well, as he's still dealing with leg issues from last season. That said, Gurley has been impressed with Mason’s work ethic this offseason.
“(He’s been) doing throwing sessions with the receivers, watching film and stuff, he’s definitely ready,” Gurley said.
Mason doesn’t lack confidence and believes that he’s ready to start on a full-time basis.
“Those two games at the end of the year really helped a lot as far as how guys are looking at me as the leader and stepping into that new role,” Mason said. “It was a little awkward when (Aaron) Murray got hurt and all of the sudden the guy who was the face of the franchise for four years is hurt and he’s gone, everyone know he’s career is over. As far as being a vocal leader, that was something I had to get used to."
In terms of that leadership, Mason brings four years of learning the offense and two of the last three seasons as Murray’s backup. The one thing Mason will have to help with this spring is the offensive line. That should be a tall task as he tries to put Georgia back into the national championship discussion.
Georgia opens spring practice March 18.