Dogs’ spring scrimmage spotlight falls on a couple of longtime backups

Hutson Mason has chafed at waiting for playing time. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Hutson Mason has chafed at waiting for playing time. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

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.

Defensive end Ray Drew had a good scrimmage Tuesday. (University of Georgia)

Defensive end Ray Drew had a good scrimmage Tuesday. (University of Georgia)

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!

Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

70 comments Add your comment

jrmdvm1

March 27th, 2013
9:58 am

Like to hear these good things coming from practice. Keeps me optimistic for next season.

Dawg_Mike

March 27th, 2013
10:01 am

If Ray Drew is unblockable who was he matched up against ?

GeoffDawg

March 27th, 2013
10:26 am

Don’t forget that Mason was recovering from a bout of Dengue Fever! That’s got to be worth noting.

Bulldawg35

March 27th, 2013
11:02 am

I just wish we would not talk a lot of junk before the season starts.Ray drew should not say a word till he proves himself on the dang field. I hope he doesn’t turn out to be a bust…because we will really neeed him this year…..he is a good guy though

Columbus Dawg

March 27th, 2013
11:08 am

Every Dawg I know is absolutely pumped for this season! Early games with Clemson an SC give it an early eighties feel! Glory, Glory!!!

CC

March 27th, 2013
11:15 am

Mason looked better than Murray, completed 61% in the wind, with the flu.

Murray threw 3 int’s vs. Florida, 3 int’s vs. Nebraska.

Anything’s an improvement over Aaron Murray.

Murray would have probably thrown 6 int’s and completed 40%.

CC

March 27th, 2013
11:17 am

Here’s a past history of Hutson Mason’s passing effic head to head with Murray in games they BOTH played in.

WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN WIN.

CC

March 27th, 2013
11:22 am

Hutson Mason in 2011 in 2nd half of games:
60% accuracy, 2 td\s, 0 int’s, 155 passer rating

Aaron Murray in 2011:
55% accuracy, 11 td\s, 8 int’s, 131 passer rating

CC

March 27th, 2013
11:28 am

In real games, Murray had 3 turnovers against Fla 2010, 3 vs Fla in 2012, 3 vs LSU in SEC Championship, 3 vs. Nebraska in Bowl game, 3 int’s vs Miss St in 2011,

58 passer rating in 2012 vs. SC,
91 passer rating in 2012 vs. Fla
125 passer rating in 2012 vs. Bama

Murray has a 1 win, 9 loss record vs teams that finish in the top 20.

Never understood why people think Murray’s so great.

Murray’s a turnover machine with 32 int’s, and a 90% loss record vs. top 20 teams.

CC

March 27th, 2013
11:40 am

According to Mason’s postgame interview, he only threw 1 int. Guess Richt kind of missed that.

Anyone surprised?

RP

March 27th, 2013
11:46 am

Preach it CC! I also heard that Hutson Mason has elected to sit on the bench for all these years to avoid injury. He is projected as the #1 overall draft pick in 2014 ahead of Jadeveon Clowney and does not want to risk that status. The patriots are rumored to be willing to trade tom brady and all of their 2014 draft picks in order to move up and draft mason at #1.

CC

March 27th, 2013
11:48 am

Aaron Murray\s numbers IN 2012 against the 2 best SEC East opponents as a 3rd year starter (SC/UF):

41% accuracy, 1 TD, 4 INT’S

Bill Arp

March 27th, 2013
11:54 am

real-game stats?!??!? Here’s a real-game stat that matters more than ANY other, W’s-L’s against calibre teams, how’s Murray doing with that??? What is he now, 1-11 against ranked teams? Yep, real-game stats that matter…..He’s simply awesome!

Now let me go back to reading this story..

RealDawg

March 27th, 2013
12:01 pm

Bill Arp,

What are you saying, you like or don’t like Murray, I really don’t know?

CC

March 27th, 2013
12:06 pm

Anyone know where Murray chose to spend his time on the windy day of scrimmage? What’s that, Murray chose to accept an individual award instead of competing against Hutson Mason?

Murray won’t be able to hide form Mason on G-Day, we’ll all see, ONCE AGAIN, who will have the better day, without Richt’s bogus spin on Mason interceptions. I always like to see them head to head, with my own eyes.

And so far, every GDay, in the public game where Richt can’t fudge about the stats, Mason always does better than Murray. Anything can happen, but my bet’s on Mason to keep his 9 game winning streak vs. Murray alive.

7576DAWG

March 27th, 2013
1:35 pm

CC
Next year Mason will probably get his chance and the first game he loses because of turnovers or not calling the right play’s will determine just what kind of Georgia fan you are. My bet is you will turn your back on Mason and wonder why Ramsey isn’t the starter. Nothing is good enough for you and you are the first to criticize if everything isn’t as perfect as YOU want things to be. I would really like to know how old you are and what background makes you such an authority on what is best for Richt’s team.

Bill King

March 27th, 2013
1:41 pm

CC:
Yes, Mason said he only had one interception. And Drew said he had three or four sacks. But players aren’t generally known as the most reliable keeper of stats. That’s why they come from the coach.

As for your statistical comparisons between Murray and Mason, please note that Mason’s numbers have either come in G-Day games or in meaningless garbage time.

That Florida game where Murray threw the three picks last year? Georgia won it thanks to Murray’s passing in the second half. They also won the bowl game.

And you neglect to note that Murray has thrown for more than 3,000 yards in each of the past three seasons (which no one else in the SEC has done) and is likely to draw some Heisman attention this season if the Dogs get past that tough September schedule with a winning record.

I’m not saying Mason isn’t a good quarterback. And he may well shine brightly when and if he becomes the starter.

But for now comparisons between his numbers and those of Murray are worthless.

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

March 27th, 2013
1:57 pm

Murray’s to blame; really????

give me a break

people need to lay off Murray

This coaching staff has continually lost big game after big game with 2 or more losses every year long before Murray got here with superior talent on the sidelines year after year

CC

March 27th, 2013
2:01 pm

Bill,

Thanks for your loyalty to the starting UGA Qb.

Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie.

Most of Murray’s stats are against inferior opponents, check out how Murray performed in the 3 biggest games of 2012: South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama.

Murray, against ranked teams, is 9th in accuracy in the SEC, and 14th in interceptions.

No doubt Mason, Lemay, Bauta, or Ramsey could do better than that, everyone in the SEC does better than 14th ranked in interceptions in the conference?

If Murray was as good as you think:
1) He wouldn’t be 1-9 vs teams that finish top 20
2) He wouldn\t struggle against a Bama defense that 1st year starters Mettenberger and Manziel shredded
3) He wouldn’t be committing 3 turnovers in his 3rd year as a starter against big time teams like Florida and Alabama
4) The NFL would have told him he\d go #1 in the 2013 draft (they didn’t, he was 3rd round at best)
5) Murray would have beaten Mason once out of their 9 head to head matchups. Instead of going 0-9 vs. Mason

There’s the 1% of the UGA fan base who are impressed by Murray’s inflated numbers compiled largely against teams like New Mexico State, then there’s the 99% of us who evaluate Murray on how he does against the best like Bama, Florida, South Carolina and LSU.

CC

March 27th, 2013
2:08 pm

No, UGA won the Florida game because of Jarvis Jones forcing turnovers, and the defense forced 6 turnovers in that game to bail Murray out for one of the worst games in his career.

CC

March 27th, 2013
2:11 pm

70% of Murray’s passing yards in 2012 vs UNRANKED teams.

WOW.

Bill King

March 27th, 2013
2:16 pm

CC:
I really hope you’re right and that Mason is a phenomenal worldbeater when he gets his chance to start. I just haven’t seen any evidence so far that points to that. As for the Florida game, yes, the defense played a very big part. But if Murray doesn’t complete the passes on that last Georgia scoring drive, when the pressure was on, the defensive effort would have been for naught.

CC

March 27th, 2013
2:18 pm

Murray’s 70th national ranking in accuracy vs. ranked teams is not a worthless number.

Nor is Murray’s 58th ranked in interceptions vs. ranked teams.

You neglected to point those out.

CC

March 27th, 2013
2:21 pm

Bill,

So Hutson Mason outperforming Murray in passer efficiency in ALL GDay games, in ALL regular season games, and in the one SEC Championship vs LSU Mason played in, all don’t show you any evidence?

All those head to head wins mean nothing to you and Murray’s 1-9 record vs teams that finish top 20 means nothing to you too?

CC

March 27th, 2013
2:22 pm

Mason wouldn’t be 1-9 vs. teams that finish top 20 teams, he gives UGA a better than 10% chance of winning, no QB could be worse than that?

CC

March 27th, 2013
2:25 pm

If Murray’s so great, why did he struggle against Bama, when 1st year starters like Mettenberger and Manziel had career best passing games?

CC

March 27th, 2013
2:28 pm

Murray’s stats and wins against UNRANKED teams are WORTHLESS.

Bill King

March 27th, 2013
2:34 pm

CC:
Murray’s wins worthless? You do realize, don’t you, that all SEC games count the same, whether the opponent is ranked or not.

CC

March 27th, 2013
3:07 pm

Worthless.

There are two ways to evaluate Murray:

Stats/wins against ranked teams
Stats/wins against unranked teams

99% of UGA fans think the SEC Championship losses against LSU & Bama are more important than the Kentucky wins.

Bill King

March 27th, 2013
3:18 pm

Georgia would not have been playing in the SEC Championship had not the Dogs beaten the likes of Kentucky, Vandy, Tennessee, etc.

T-Dawg

March 27th, 2013
3:38 pm

King and CC need to get a room!

Bill King

March 27th, 2013
3:44 pm

Yes, this is getting pretty silly.

Stan Helton

March 27th, 2013
4:17 pm

Bill – looks like you are ready to swing at a few linebackers today !!!! Way to get in the trenches !!! UGA Class of 75.

Dog4Life

March 27th, 2013
4:35 pm

Yes, every game counts when it is an SEC game–just ask Carolina (2 yrs in a row). I live here in columbia and they all grouse about beating UGA but not getting to the SECCG. My reply, you have to win them all or at least more than your opponent. Samething can be said of Fla, LSU, Bama–you have win all or most to get where you want to be–Atlanta!!!

LawDawg

March 27th, 2013
4:43 pm

CC: I guarantee you never played football above Pee-Wee. This is not baseball, stats do lie. All the time. The only real evaluation you can make of a QB is the eye test and while Murray has had some jittery games against ranked teams, there is a reason no other SEC QB has ever done what he has done. There is a reason he is a 2nd or 3rd draft choice. There is a reason he gets Heisman hype.

LawDawg

March 27th, 2013
4:44 pm

Bill,

I love your column. Can you tell us who worked with Swann in the first unit defensive backfield?

That is by far my biggest worry, so it would be nice to know who the staff is looking at right now.

Mr. Peabody

March 27th, 2013
4:59 pm

Bill, thanks for posting in your column, it’s nice to see that you follow the comments. CC, there’s no getting through to you man. Your not the coach so what’s your opinion matter? Murray is the starter and most of us stand behind the young man, he’s an asset to the University of Georgia and by all facts seems to be a caring young man who has a bright future both as a football player and a human being. I trust our coach to make the QB choice for the team, maybe Mason’s time will come as a starter and maybe it won’t, its up to the staff to figure it out. Murray led the Dawgs to back to back SEC championship games and ALMOST beat the Tide againist all odds. I was cheering and hollaring in my agency’s break room and had so much pride in the way the Dawgs played. I will remember that pride for a long time and I think all TRUE fans feel the same way. It’s a pretty sorry life you live to waller in negativity all day long. Go Dawgs!

Bill King

March 27th, 2013
5:34 pm

LawDawg:
Tray Matthews, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Sheldon Dawson, from what I hear.

Buzz-off

March 27th, 2013
7:56 pm

Who the heck is “CC”? He may be the most negative blogger I have ever seen…..and he doesn’t have a clue as to what he is saying. They make medications for folks like CC!!!

Buzz-off

March 27th, 2013
7:58 pm

I just figured it out. CC = techie

Bulldawg35

March 27th, 2013
8:02 pm

Bill king is right….cc is just not very bright. Richt knows qb’s and their is a reason Murray has started over mason for all these years

flintriverdawg

March 27th, 2013
9:16 pm

cc: your only distinction is that your remarks elicited more responce from bill king in your 15 min of fame than anyother fan (?) of the three yrs ive been reading this blog……….you the big dawg(not).

Dawg-Gawn

March 27th, 2013
10:19 pm

While I like the game passion displayed by the QB Hutson Mason… I question his smarts… first of all, throwing a punch at a LB.. with a helmet on! I am assuming the punch must have been an incomplete total miss or Hutson could have injured his throwing hand… more than likely the one reason why he’s the back up QB.

No mention of DL Jonathan Taylor or QB Faton Bauta two players who showed out on the scout team last year… what’s-up with that???

“BELIEVE” in the “G”

RED DOG 77

March 27th, 2013
11:30 pm

7576 DAWG………..CC is just a young ‘un tryin’ to run with the big dogs…………looks like you and several others pis@ed on his bush and sent him home squealin’ like a pig……….keep it up ……….RED

RED DOG 77

March 27th, 2013
11:40 pm

Now for statistics………..any QB or coach for that matter in the SEC who can manage the number of wins year after year that Aaron Murray and coach Richt have is no fluke………..they are the real deal…………….no doubt about it…………just look around the SEC and tell me who else has a better win loss record over their time as QB or coach………….Not many pretty rare, I’ll take “my Dawgs” any day…………..RED

NCDawg

March 28th, 2013
7:07 am

Just a helpful reminder to everyone… all wins are team wins and all losses are TEAM losses. Since it is a TEAM loss that means everyone, players and coaching staff own the loss. Often times it is a combination of factors that result in a loss. Coaches can make bad calls, players can forget assignments, coaches can make great calls and players can fail to execute them… playing the blame game is fruitless.

David

March 28th, 2013
7:42 am

Bill, why do you always have to take shots at a guy……numbers nothing to get excited about…blah blah blah…dont understand how some fans are obsessed with this and that……maybe its because Murray sucks in big games…..maybe its because murray throws as many if not more interceptions at the most inopportune times…maybe its because Murrays numbers are against mostly losing or average at best teams. last year in JAX, lets be clear- we won in SPITE of Murray. Fla and all their mistakes had more to do with it than anything Murray did. Yes, he is a good QB….but so is Mason.

Dog4Life

March 28th, 2013
8:06 am

David, fla did not make mistakes–they were forced errors caused by a punishing and determined defense. You make it sound as if fl made stupid mistakes (unforced errors) not true–those fumbles and ints were made by aggressive tackling and being quick to the point of contact. A mistake is a missed assignment, go the wrong way–but these were forced errors–can not blame fl, can only blame a strong determined defense. As for Murray–argue that point all you want, but stop trying to excuse the loss of fl on stupid mistakes–no, no, those were forced by an aggressive D.

BazookaJoe

March 28th, 2013
8:54 am

Give it a rest CC…… I think the coaches know a heck of a lot more than you do and if Mason was all that he would be starting instead of Murray. OOOOh Mason looked sooo good at G Day – give me a break. So Murray is 1-11 (or whatever) against some measure of quality teams, well you know what ? If Mason had started he would have been 0-for. You sound like the same loudmouth that used to sit behind me at games screaming to take Zeir out and put in Bobo. Is that you ?

NCDawg

March 28th, 2013
9:06 am

Anyone who pays even moderate attention to UGA football knows that Aaron Murray presses in big games. He tries too hard. It is also noteworthy that he played a pretty good game against Bama. The last drive was on his shoulders and he got the team down the field in big time fashion. There will be those that will blame his size for the tipped ball but that is bogus. That was a great play by the defender… a few inches in height would not have changed where the throw was going or whether or not it was tipped. Anyway… he played a good game and he did not kill our chances to win. That was the biggest game of his career and he preformed admirably. THAT is what I am carrying forward.
Those of you who want to play the statistics game and how it didn’t seem to change in his first few years and most of last season need to chuck the stats and look at the Bama game and the bowl game. How come you detractors don’t talk about the SEC championship game? Sure we lost but it wasn’t because of anything Aaron Murray did. Is it because it pretty much blows your “Murray ALWAYS chokes” theory out of the water? Maybe you need to reassess…