Richt faces decision on Hutson Mason: Play him or redshirt him?

Mark Richt must decide whether to play true freshman Hutson Mason early in the season. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Mark Richt must decide whether to play true freshman Hutson Mason early in the season. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

There’s been considerable debate here in the past over the way Mark Richt and Mike Bobo have handled Georgia’s No. 2 quarterbacks, with a vocal contingent arguing that the Dogs should always have a backup who has real-game experience.

This year, of course, that’s complicated by the fact that Georgia’s starter doesn’t even have any real-game experience.

Plus, no one’s entirely sure who the backup quarterback is. Nominally, it’s still Logan Gray, who has appeared in preseason camp to be on his way to establishing himself as a viable receiving threat, though he’s currently hobbled by an ankle injury. In practice, the backup has been true freshman Hutson Mason, who ideally would get a redshirt year to master the Richt/Bobo offense before having to take a snap when it counts.

Richt has described the lack of experience and depth at QB this year as “scary,” and the decision facing him and Bobo isn’t an easy one. Should redshirt freshman starter Aaron Murray play the whole game against opening opponent Louisiana-Lafayette to get as much experience as possible before facing South Carolina in Columbia the next week — even staying in the game after the third-string backs and linemen have rotated onto the field against the outmanned Ragin’ Cajuns?

If not, who gets the call for mop-up duty? Gray, who’d probably rather be catching as many balls as he could rather than acting as a human place marker? Or will Richt and Bobo give up any idea of redshirting Mason?

The young man in question told The Athens Banner-Herald he has no idea which way they’ll go. “I don’t know, we all don’t know, no one really knows right now,” Mason said. “It’s just a big question mark. All I can do is go out and perform every day in practice and try to prove myself.”

Said Richt, “I guess we really haven’t thought much about it. … We haven’t really got close enough to where we say, ‘What are we going to do?’ it’s coming up, we’re going to have to talk about it pretty quick. We just haven’t had that discussion yet.”

Frankly, it’s hard to believe they really haven’t had that discussion yet, but maybe they’re waiting to see how things go in today’s scrimmage. As Mason told the ABH, “I think it all depends on how I finish camp and how I finish these last couple of practices.”

Earlier in camp Bobo praised Mason’s “command in the huddle” and said he “liked a lot” what he saw in the young quarterback, who set Georgia state single-season high-school records for passing yards (4,560) and touchdowns (54) and a state single-game record for passing yards (552) last season.

So what do you think, should Richt and Bobo get Mason some early playing time? Or do you believe they should hold on to that redshirt unless it absolutely has to be burned?

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228 comments Add your comment

OEJ

August 25th, 2010
10:52 am

If hes ready hes ready, put him in to give Murray a rest. If hes not then he should red shirt. From what Ive been reading I think he should’nt red shirt. That’s just my opinion

Holy Cow

August 25th, 2010
10:52 am

Bryan

August 25th, 2010
10:56 am

I wonder if this is going to be a factor in keeping Lemay? I say play the kid.

KingDawg

August 25th, 2010
10:57 am

Easy call – burn the redshirt early. He needs experience before being thrown in to a 1st & ten from our own goal like Logan was last year in the Florida game.

turkeycaller

August 25th, 2010
10:57 am

You are going to have to play this kid. Who else is available? Exactly. Mason.

ant

August 25th, 2010
10:57 am

you have to red shirt him..let grey be the backup

Joe Mac

August 25th, 2010
10:58 am

A redshirt could happen by default if Murray stays healthy and there is no need to play Hutson.

If we get into a blowout either way I’d just go with Gray or a walkon. No reason to burn a year on mop-up duty.

guy

August 25th, 2010
11:02 am

if he’s as good as advertised he’ll be gone by his senior year anyways.

Pete

August 25th, 2010
11:03 am

Yank the redshirt off Hutson, we need the #2 to get reps in case he’s needed.

Jake

August 25th, 2010
11:05 am

Redshirting is about the future, but seems like the future is now for Richt, isn’t it? He can’t afford another year like last year. The impression I get is that at Alabama and Florida they re-load, but the QB situation at UGA makes it seem like a second-tier SEC program. It would be nice to see not just an attacking defense, but an attacking mind-set across the board. Mason may be a freshman, but the fact that he’s making this decision suggests he’s got the kind of attitude and approach that would be helpful as an active member of the team, not a spare part on the shelf.

Leadership

August 25th, 2010
11:10 am

Said Richt, “I guess we really haven’t thought much about it. … We haven’t really got close enough to where we say, ‘What are we going to do?’ it’s coming up, we’re going to have to talk about it pretty quick. We just haven’t had that discussion yet.”

If I’m a bulldog fan that type of “gee whiz, we probably should decide that soon” doesn’t inspire much confidence in the coaching staff. Now I don’t want to start an argument about Richt’s merits as a head coach; he has an outstanding record of success.

But I will say it just seems that Georgia isn’t as a tightly run a ship as some other programs. That could be due to Richt’s affable nature and honesty in interviews, or it could be due to the program finally being under some real stress during Richt’s tenure and the leadership feeling a little overwhelmed by some of the current challenges.

Ferndolin

August 25th, 2010
11:10 am

What is the rule? If he takes one snap is red-shirting no longer an option?

11Dawg

August 25th, 2010
11:11 am

With LeMay coming in, Mason will probably never be a starter. I say play him as a backup this year.

azdawg

August 25th, 2010
11:13 am

This is a no-brainer. If he has truly been this good in practice then there should be no redshirt. We have a new stud QB coming in next year to aid our depth(LeMay)and what will CMR do if Murray happens to get injured? Play Logan Gray who is getting all his reps at WR, is nursing an injury and has shown marginal skills at QB when he did get playing time last year? I can not live with that scenario. Hopefully Hutson lights it up in scrimmage today and all will be settled going forward.

burn it

August 25th, 2010
11:13 am

it doesn’t matter if he has an extra year or not. he’s never going to be the starting qb at uga after this year. burn the redshirt and give him mop up pt.

his best chance of seeing the field in legitimate time is an injury happening this year.

Ferndolin

August 25th, 2010
11:14 am

Can he be red-shirted down the road so long as he hasn’t played? Someone help me out with this.

burn it

August 25th, 2010
11:16 am

1 snap and his regular redshirt is burned.

if he gets a season ending injury in the first 3-4 games after playing at least 1 snap, he can apply for a medical redshirt ala sturdivant.

TommyP

August 25th, 2010
11:17 am

Play Mason in the 4th quarter and get him some reps. Lafayette isn’t deep enough to play the 2nd/3rd stringers in the 4th so Mason will still get a look at a lower Div.I defense as his first experience.

You DON’T want a true freshman taking over the team without any experience if Murray gets hurt. Let him play and see what you have. We have to accelerate the learning curve for this kid ’cause he’s an injury away from taking over in the SEC.

And Lemay will be here in a year so both Murray and Mason will be Juniors when Lemay is a redshirt frosh.

VA DAWG

August 25th, 2010
11:18 am

Play him in the fourth quarter of each game that is “in hand.” Lemay is still just a commit and hasn’t signed on the dotted line. Therefore, Hutson needs to get game experience this year even if Murray does not get hurt b/c we may be in same position next year. Give the kid a chance for success before just handing it over to a highly recruited freshmen. Just my opinion. GO DAWGS!

Ferndolin

August 25th, 2010
11:19 am

Burn it – Thanks. I say play him.

rduck

August 25th, 2010
11:19 am

I can’t see Mason staying as a backup for 3-4 years without transferring to another program. The kid seems to have alot of talent and it would be wasted as a #2 QB. If he has any hope of playing on Sundays, he will either have to redshirt this year or next, have Murray go down or leave early, or beat out Murray as the starter at some point in his career. The whole Lemay coming next year part will probably be the deciding factor in all of this…

ugaclassof2004

August 25th, 2010
11:19 am

I agree with you Jake.

I am big time worried about the QB situation especially the lack of depth at the position. It seems to me that Richt is really hitching his wagon to this Murray kid who has never played a down. And even if Murray turns out to be good, UGA has been very fortunate to not have had injuries at the QB position the last 9 years. Right now they are 1 key injury away from being 6-6. And I have zero confidence in Logan Gray. Gray’s a decent athlete and if we were running a spread offense like Florida or Oregon then I’d be OK with him as our QB. But in Richt’s offense, which features a lateral passing game, the QB really has to be able to make the throws and Logan doesn’t strike me as someone who can do that on a regular basis. I’m not sure if this Hutson kid is ready, but given the lack of depth at the position, Richt may have no choice but to take the Red Shirt off.

Remarkable

August 25th, 2010
11:22 am

Don’t they have 2 walk on QB’s? What about them as back ups if they redshirt Mason? Personally, I think he needs playing time. LeMay will be here next year and we will have a three way battle for the QB spot. Then we will have come controversy come the Spring Game.

FayetteDawg

August 25th, 2010
11:22 am

I don’t think Gray is a viable option to back-up Murray… Not given his transition and the fact that he didn’t look comfortable at all in the games he played last year. That being said, I really don’t see red shirting Mason as an option either. He’s got talent and the right skill set–he needs experience. Skip the red shirt and get the kid some playing time behind Murray. Learned this lesson with Ealey last season: if your current back-up doesn’t work, you burn the redshirt for the “future star.” Jake’s right. The future is now for Richt.

MATHDAWG

August 25th, 2010
11:23 am

If Mason is ready, play him. I don’t believe in red-shirting skill players because if they are good they won’t be here 4 years anyway. Example – Moreno. Big players like the linemen probably need an extra year to mature. When a players comes in early they should have had time enough to learn the plays and will need to play in a a game to really make progress. After all, what are these games against lesser opponents for anyway?

G Time

August 25th, 2010
11:23 am

Hutson Mason could end up starting, if Murray continues to struggle with interceptions or or if Murray gets injured again for the third straight year.

Ok with Gray too, but Gray only needs to be the #2 if Gray’s substantially better right now than Mason.

This year is critical for Richt. Too many red-shirts at QB in the past, there’s a lot of games where Mason could get reps, game 1, and games 4-8, so he could be ready if anything happens to Murray, or if Murray struggles.

Gray will be a difference maker at WR/SE, Georgia’s had a lot of injuries in that unit in the past, so I’d keep Gray with the receivers, although he is a very capable QB, and let Mason be the #2.

Georgia’s in good shape at QB, either way. Gray and Mason are both big time, highly touted QB’s.

larry

August 25th, 2010
11:24 am

play him and don’t look back…lamay is not here yet and hopefully murray has great year to make lamay sign somewhere else. not syaing i don’t want lamay. too many good qb’s is not a bad thing…go dawgs

NC Dawg

August 25th, 2010
11:24 am

Will Mason stay for 4 years? Will he leave after his junior year for the NFL like Stafford? I say play him now. Gray needs to play receiver or special teams.

DawginLex

August 25th, 2010
11:26 am

Play Hutson Mason early and often. No redshirt crapola. He is 1 of 2 scholarship QB’s taking reps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gray is a WR and will stay there.

Tell Lemay now that he will redshirt next year.

2012 QB depth

Murray-Jr
Mason-Jr
Lemay-RSfr

CHDawg

August 25th, 2010
11:28 am

One thing is sure: you couldn’t find a better pair to decide on this than Richt and Bobo. I would say let him play this year because of the lack of depth. It would have been nice to redshirt, but the situation has changed. If Mason ends up being awesome, he goes to the NFL one year earlier than he might have, but we could lose that year of eligibility anyway. If he ends up stinking, he will likely get beat out in a couple of years anyway.

awj

August 25th, 2010
11:30 am

Let him play! It does not matter if they burn a redshirt year or not with this kid. With Murray on one side and LeMay on another he has a long way to go before being the #1 @ UGA. He needs as much practical game experience as he can get NOW….If Murray goes down we need serviceable options….He needs to play as much as possible gainst LLaf.

Scott W.

August 25th, 2010
11:32 am

Hopefully last year has changed CMR attitude on redshirting. It wouldn’t have been a question of whether Hutson would be sitting out if his opinion was the same as last year.

DevildawgNC

August 25th, 2010
11:36 am

The fact that Mason is playing behind Murray in the walkthrough today, and not leading the “first”/third string of the scout team like Murray did last year, gives me hope that they will in fact give him some mop-up duty playing time against ULL. I see no good reason to redshirt the kid unless he’s gonna walk out there and throw nothing but pick-6’s

Hunker Down

August 25th, 2010
11:38 am

If UGA is to establish a lead against ULL you need to first protect your starter and put in someone for mop up duty. That person should be Hutson. If Murray goes down this year you better have someone with some game experience in there. The future is now with Hutson. We are too thin at QB to worry about redshirting and down the road mentality. This season hinges on Murray staying healthy and being productive but we better have a “what if” in place just in case.

CUNK ROGERS

August 25th, 2010
11:38 am

Sounds to me that Mason is ready to be 2nd string by what you guys have been reporting. Its not fair to Gray to be left out there guessing. I think Mason is going to surprise everyone. Murray will need a rest now and again and the DAWGS need their 2nd string man to gain some REAL GAME experience. Let Mason play some Sept 4th.

Sam

August 25th, 2010
11:50 am

Play him this year and then redshirt him (Matson) next year.

glercdawg

August 25th, 2010
11:51 am

azdawg got it right

Sam

August 25th, 2010
11:52 am

My gosh, you people already have Mason leaving early for the NFL!

DCJohn

August 25th, 2010
11:54 am

We need Hutson to play in the opener for two reasons 1) so he gets some real experience if we do need him later and 2) so Aaron will not get hurt if a scrub misses a block. Hutson with a redshirt = a redshirted Joe Cox with a Matt Stafford in front of him.

Which makes me think, how different would have Joe Cox’s career been, if he had played early and filled in for the Shock in Jacksonville instead of Joe T. III?

TallyDawg

August 25th, 2010
12:01 pm

If Murray is, in fact the real deal, we won’t get him for a senior season. Logan sucks as a QB. Keep Mason on the roster.

Cuz

August 25th, 2010
12:06 pm

Better give him some playing time in a safe game. If we don’t, what will we do if Murray stinks up the first half of the USC game, concede the whole season?

PMC

August 25th, 2010
12:07 pm

This is not a tough decision. Play him. They don’t have the luxury right now of redshirting a QB and it’s unlikely that he’s going to win the job over who they have now or in the pipeline. He’s a vital player to have available. Redshirting Mason would hurt him and the team.

PMC

August 25th, 2010
12:08 pm

It’s pointless to redshirt a guy who likely will be a backup for 4 years.

PMC

August 25th, 2010
12:11 pm

It’s fairly obvious that 4 years of practice didn’t prepare Joe Cox for game situations. He still struggled, get it over with as early as possible.

Dawggg

August 25th, 2010
12:15 pm

Play him. He needs to get at least some real game experience in case something happens to Murray and/or Gray.

DawginOH

August 25th, 2010
12:17 pm

Mason seems like he’s been progressing well in camp so I say let him take some snaps in the opener. He should be the 2nd string behind Murray this season and will need some experience. Plus, it’s only fair to Logan Gray to assign him a position and carve it in stone. Seems like he’s been making some pretty good catches at receiver so let him play where he is happy and can best help the team.

dawgfan

August 25th, 2010
12:17 pm

I think Richt is playing with fire the way he’s handling the back up QB situation. If Murray goes down we would be in BIG trouble. Gray isn’t even practicing as a QB anymore. I have no idea why. What an assinine decision. This guy didn’t exacly light the world on fire when he was practicing with the QBs. He would be a solid and serviceable back up if he were practicing at QB. The guy is catching passes in practice and he’s supposed to come in and be an SEC starter if Murray goes down? Laughable. It will be a disaster. And because of this mindboggling decision they are probably going to have to burn the redshirt on Mason. I guess he’s the backup. Who in the hell knows? They apparently haven’t thought about it much. Good grief.

I will defend Richt to the grave but I just don’t get this one. Sorry.

Hogwash

August 25th, 2010
12:19 pm

It’s a no brainer. If Murray goes down,who’s going to replace him. You have to prepare for the worst case. Get him ready to play. We can’t afford to redshirt him. That would be a stupid decision. Gray will never be ready to play or shall I say Bobo will never have him ready to play. Look at the results from last year. A total debacle.

59bulldawg

August 25th, 2010
12:24 pm

Gee coach . . . you might want to sorta get a plan before kick-off. Give him the reps and let him compete. Forget the redshirt. The future is now!

YoungDawg

August 25th, 2010
12:25 pm

Play him so he’s ready if needed