Quite often, too much is made of player stats in scrimmages, particularly in the spring, which is why the numbers handed out by Mark Richt after Georgia practices are labeled “unofficial.”
But since they involve players with whom some UGA fans seem obsessed, it’s worth noting a couple of story lines coming out of the Bulldogs’ first scrimmage of the spring Tuesday.
On a day when starter Aaron Murray was absent with permission for an awards ceremony, longtime backup Hutson Mason got his first ever undisputed shot at running the first-string offense.
Mason has never made any secret of chafing in his perennial backup role behind Murray. When the starter decided to return for his senior year, Mason admitted he was “frustrated,” and Tuesday he joked with reporters that he ought to get Murray signed up for some more banquets.
Given a chance to run the No. 1 offense, Mason’s numbers were decent but not anything to get particularly excited about: He completed 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards, with two interceptions (on a cold, windy day when Bulldog QBs threw six picks) and one long touchdown throw to Chris Conley against the No. 1 defense.
But from all reports he shook off some self-admitted jitters from not having played with the No. 1 unit in a long time and looked like he knew what he was doing. As Richt put it: “I thought he did a nice job. He’s very capable of running the show.”
And, as recounted by our Chip Towers, the feisty QB even got into a scuffle with linebacker Amarlo Herrera, with Mason throwing a punch after getting slapped on the helmet. Fortunately for Mason, his offensive linemen came to his aid. (That sort of thing sounds good in a scrimmage report and gets fans pumped up, but he better think twice about trying it in a real game.)
I’ve never understood the faction of UGA fandom that seems to have the deluded idea that Mason ought to be starting rather than Murray — ignoring Murray’s eye-popping real game stats in favor of Mason’s past G-Day numbers — but it’s good to know that, if the occasion arises where the backup has to take the reins, the Dogs shouldn’t have to worry too much.
The other player whose scrimmage results are worth noting is junior defensive end Ray Drew, whose play to date has never quite matched his recruiting hype but who appears to be finally coming into his own as he battles Sterling Bailey for a spot in the starting lineup.
Drew had two sacks and a tackle for loss Tuesday and the Athens Banner-Herald quoted Mason as saying, “From what I noticed, Ray Drew was really unblockable today.”
Despite the fact he was working with the second unit in the scrimmage, Drew’s confidence seems to be growing. He told the Banner-Herald he believes that “by the time the season rolls around, Sterling Bailey and myself will be sharing a good amount of playing time. I wouldn’t say that I deserve to be a one or Sterling deserves to be a one, but … I believe talent-wise we’re right there together and we’re both going to make an impact this upcoming season.”
Here’s hoping he’s right.
COMMIT TO THE G WEEKEND
UGA is increasingly pushing the weekend of the G-Day Game as sort of a spring equivalent of Homecoming to try and get more fans to make the trek to Athens.
Once again, the actual intrasquad game, set for 1 p.m. April 6 at Sanford Stadium, will be preceded at 11 a.m. by a flag football game featuring past lettermen, which is always a lot of fun. And the schedule as been arranged so that fans also can catch the faltering baseball team (which needs as much support as it can get) in an 8 p.m. game against Mizzou.
There’s also a lot of other action on tap that weekend in different sports (you can check out the schedule here), and for the G-Day game surface lots around the stadium will be open to the public and handicap parking will be available in the Tate Center and East Campus lots.
See you there!
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg