Quarterbacks, defense the main focus as Red and Black battle on G-Day

Todd Gurley didn't have to work that hard to be the best back playing Saturday. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Todd Gurley didn't have to work that hard to be the best back playing Saturday. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Saturday was a fine time to be in Athens, what with the absolutely gorgeous spring weather and a chance to spend a couple of hours watching football at Sanford Stadium with my brothers and 46,000 other folks. Plus frisbee-catching dogs!

So, now to the main questions asked by Bulldog fans who couldn’t attend this year’s G-Day game, won 27-24 by the Red team (featuring the first-string offense) over the Black team (with the first-string defense):

First, how did Hutson Mason look? Very good. He completed 18 of 27 passes (almost all in the first half and including his first five) for 241 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, continuing his trend this spring of strong play. (In fact, head coach Mark Richt said after the game that this was the worst of Mason’s three spring scrimmages — which I think qualifies as Dawg porn.) I liked the pace of Mason’s offense, which featured a lot of very quick passes.

What about Todd Gurley? He played more than I really expected, rushing six times for 32 yards and a touchdown, and gaining another 38 yards catching three passes. He didn’t appear to be really breaking a sweat and yet was still the best running back on the field, even if he did fumble crossing the goal line on one play, with the ball hitting the pylon, resulting in a touchback. Brendan Douglas and A.J. Turman also got some tough running yardage.

As for the revamping of the defense under an all-new staff led by Alabama-FSU import Jeremy Pruitt? Well, that’s still a very much a work in progress, as everyone involved admitted, but I liked the energy I saw out on the field and the fact that Pruitt was substituting liberally, with walk-ons Aaron Davis and Lucas Redd logging time with the first-string and acquitting themselves quite well. Basically, the pass rush looked awesome, particularly Leonard Floyd, despite the fact that all but one of the quarterbacks was in a no-contact jersey, and the linebackers also did a good job.

The secondary, the Achilles heel of last year’s Todd Grantham defense … well, it’s not really fair to judge because spring sensation J.J. Green and perennial should-be-great-if-only-he-was-healthy Tray Matthews didn’t get to play because of injury. Both the first- and second-string pass defenses gave up a lot of yardage, including a number of long balls, and drew a lot of flags — mostly for pass interference. Shaq Wiggins did have a notable pass breakup. But the biggest difference I saw from last year was they didn’t seem confused and their sins were a result of aggressive play.

The offense was expected to look better on this day, and it did. But the starting defense playing for the Blacks was much more effective in the second half, giving up 144 yards compared with 261 in the first half. Nothing to worry about unduly just yet.

Quarterback Faton Bauta had an impressive day for the Black team. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Quarterback Faton Bauta had an impressive day for the Black team. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

The other most interesting storyline of the spring took an interesting turn Saturday, as redshirt-sophomore Faton Bauta (pronounced Fa-TONE Bow-tah), who had lost some ground to redshirt-freshman Brice Ramsey in the earlier scrimmages, had the more impressive day at G-Day by a large margin, completing 16 of 28 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Black team back from a 24-10 deficit early in the fourth quarter.

Ramsey, who started out on the Black offense and then moved over and played with the first-string Red offense in the second half, completed just two of 13 passes for 78 yards (a total skewed by a 46-yard completion) and one interception. Ramsey did show his strong arm a couple of times, but in general overthrew or underthrew his receivers. (True freshman early enrollee Jacob Park also played briefly at QB, not surprisingly with negligible results.)

Richt indicated that this was “just one day” in the competition between Bauta and Ramsey for the No. 2 job, but on this day Bauta — who chose to wear a regular jersey, allowing him to be hit — looked much more like the QB you’d want going in if Mason couldn’t play. Known primarily for his running ability (which he did show off a bit with six keepers for 35 yards), Batau was surprisingly good through the air, showing a stronger arm than expected, especially on a fourth-quarter drive in which he completed a 47-yarder to Kenneth Towns and then a 41-yard touchdown to Uriah LeMay on consecutive plays.

Other G-Day observations: Despite the swapping around amid the continuing search for the starting five — which saw John Theus play about half the game at his old right tackle position in addition to his more recent left-tackle spot — the offensive line had a decent day. … A lot of folks had to resort to their programs to figure out who was that kid wearing the No. 38 jersey for the Black team (clad in white) who snagged five receptions for an impressive 75 yards, including a very nice catch early in the second quarter where he had to go up and fight for the ball. It was redshirt-sophomore walk-on Clay Johnson. Spring standouts don’t always carry on into the fall, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him catching some balls during the regular season. For the Reds, Chris Conley looked great as usual, catching six passes for 124 yards and Michael Bennett had five catches for 47 yards, including a fine third-down snag in the second quarter where he had to stretch out for the ball. Reggie Davis also contributed three receptions for 66 yards. Fan favorite Jonathon Rumph had a very quiet G-Day with one reception for 7 yards, and dropped a couple of passes, including a third-down play when he was wide open. Fullback-turned-tight end Quayvon Hicks, who sometimes split wide Saturday, had one very nice catch on a 22-yarder.

Finally, some nonfootball notes from Saturday: The frisbee-catching dogs were the halftime entertainment and made probably the most impressive catches of the day. … Some strange “mascots” approximating a peanut, a peach and a drink cup came out on the field to play around with Hairy Dawg at one point. Let’s hope we never see them again. … And the athletic department folks experimented with the now-legal use of pre-recorded music between plays, in addition to their standard use in the pregame and timeouts. However, the folks in charge might want to note that fans were covering their ears and even plugging them with wadded up napkins, which might indicate the volume level needs to come down a notch. Or two. Or three.

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

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

79 comments Add your comment

Hairy Dawg

April 13th, 2014
12:44 am

Hutson looks like he ready to step in and win. Gurley looked healthy. D knows what it doing now not like with Grantham. Pruit D didn’t show blitzing but much better tackles with wrapup than Grantham had them do. If D does that with Hutson and Gurley then Dawgs back to Dome again which means chance towin national champs. This year we more chance to stay healthy and may even have depths to overcome any injures like those that hurt last year.

HotDawg

April 13th, 2014
2:22 am

Hey Bill,
I listened to some on radio and also watched on CSS. The sound system could be heard blasting on both broadcasts. Both had trouble with interviews a few times due to being so loud. You could tell it was annoying and was over the top too much.
Hope they tone it down to a reasonable level during games. It sounded like it was overriding the actual event at times.

HotDawg

April 13th, 2014
2:57 am

As for the game….it is what it is. A scrimmage. Many that played today will not play again till next G Day.
It’s a nice “backyard” game for team. A day for coaches to continue to evaluate and work on gameday logistics.
A fun day for fans to visit campus in Spring, socialize, bask the hallowed grounds of Sanford Stadium, and see the Dawgs minus any pressure or hated opponent.
Glory, Glory

HotDawg

April 13th, 2014
3:04 am

it’s a fun day. Don’t put too much stock into the scrimmage. Many players today will not be playing until next G Day.
Always a nice appetizer, though.
Go Dawgs!

Bama Fan #2

April 13th, 2014
5:30 am

Hope Todd Gurley can stay healthy this season!! He is the
best RB in the SEC by far!!

Columbus Dawg

April 13th, 2014
7:29 am

HotDawg, I was there, sound system sounded very good, but very loud. I imagine it was kind of overbearing on TV. McGarity said Clemson will get pay back on piped music now that SEC rules have changed. I am not going to say another negative word aout Hutson Mason. He looks better on most things, the front seven gave him trouble at times, but that’s what they are supposed to do. Mason showed that he can go downfield just fine. OL will get better, making Mason’s life easier. Bobo did not run the ball very much, threw most of the time. This will change, much. Add a healthy Marshall, nd the new backs and full dose of Gurley II, and no beat missed. The D will catch up. Going to be a great year!

Bama Fan #2, Gurley no doubt great, and so is Bama’s Henry. Waiting on word of Auburn’s new run game. I just don’t see it as being as good as was with Mason, but no War Eaglet will admit such.

Pago Pago DAWG

April 13th, 2014
9:54 am

Ohio had 61,000 yesterday at $5.00 a head. Cryer was quoted.. most of the players on the field will never see the field again = boring practice.
Sad about the loud hip-hop rap noise…no class anymore.
Will The Redcoats be around in 10 years…or replaced by loud noise!

BoomDoawg

April 13th, 2014
9:56 am

1. Hutson didn’t have a bunch f his offense, he was missing Mitchell, Justin Scott, and Jay Rome for receivers, so he went to Conley and Bennett. At running back, he was missing Marshall, and the two 5 star running back recruits Michel & Chubb. Hutson completed 66% of his passes and no interceptions for about 250 yards, with a depleted receiver and running back corp. And most important, he got the win. He looked competitive out there, every time the black team got close, he stepped it up, seemed determined to win the game. It was a nice change to see a Qb so competitive, and focused on one thing, winning the game, instead of jacking his stats up.
2. I wouldn’t get worried about the defense, FSU scored 64 points on his defense in last year’s spring game, and FSU ended up leading the nation in scoring. Pruitt doesn’t like to show much in the Spring game, and likes to treat it another practice. One comment bothered me, when it was said that Pruitt wasn’t trying to win the game, according to richt. Didn’t like the sound of that, you play to win the game.
3. All in all, Mason and Conley and Bennett and Gurley looked solid, as did our defensive pass rush guys. Were missing key guys in the secondary like Matthews and JJ, they have a long way to go in a short time.
4. Our back up Qb’s looked so bad in the first half, Bauta looked good in the 2nd half. Sure hope Mason doesn’t get hurt, there’s nothing behind him.
5. liked the defense forcing 5 turnovers, nice change. And they stopped the run pretty well, but 3 big playmakers were out at running back in Marshall, Michel and Chubb.
6. Glad Pruitt is in charge of the secondary, tells me he’ll get it done. The rest of the defense looked solid, the front 7 is going to be much improved.
7. Gurley can end up All American if he doesn’t get hurt, we’ll see if he lives up to his potential, or flames out.

dawgfan

April 13th, 2014
3:02 pm

Are you surprised BoomDawg? It’s Mark Richt. He’s not a competitor. Never has been.

Never will be.

DawgVoiceofReason

April 13th, 2014
4:08 pm

Loud music blaring over loud-speakers. Very obnoxious and annoying because it’s too loud and disrupts regular conversation. Sounds a LOT like dawgfan.

DawgVoiceofReason

April 13th, 2014
4:10 pm

dawgfan: He’s not a worthy commentator.

Never has been.

Never will be.

dawgfan

April 13th, 2014
4:34 pm

DawgsVoiceofReason: I own him. Always have.

Always will.

DawgVoiceofReason

April 13th, 2014
6:15 pm

Boomdoag,

Your remarks are rendered meaningless by your remark about the most important thing being getting the win. While they do keep score and reward the “winning” team, it matters not one bit which team “wins” the spring game. The teams are not equal, it’s not played all out and it is not a regular game. It is also obvious that you were simply taking a shot at Murray based on your previous cheap shots against the guy under the many different handles you post under.

DawgVoiceofReason

April 13th, 2014
6:19 pm

dawgfan: Loathes coach Richt. Always has.

Always will.

Unable to admit it. Never has.

Never will.

Admits to depression. Needs help. Desperately.

Bane of the blog. Always has been.

Always will be.

Owen Scott, III

April 13th, 2014
6:32 pm

Missed the game, enjoyed the report. Thanks, Bill.

HotDawg

April 13th, 2014
6:35 pm

Bubba Watson….DGD!

HotDawg

April 13th, 2014
6:41 pm

Hutson Mason as interviewed on Dawg Report….”We’re doing our best. I’m doing my best to lead this team. Anybody that doesn’t want to be all in the Georgia way is gonna have to be gone. These guys are your best friends, but sometimes they need a kick in the butt.”

TheAnt

April 13th, 2014
7:29 pm

Ramsey kid slingin it a mile down the field on every pass, reminded me of our Qb, what’s his name. All about me Qb’s. Liked the way Mason & Bauta played, not greedy, just takin what the defense gave them.

Ramsey days are over at Georgia, he doesn’t get it. Ain’t about slingin it a mile on every pass, even if you’re accurate on the long ball, which he ain’t. Guess he figured if he hit on 1 of 5 of the long balls, he’d win the stat sheet contest. Can we get some team guys for a change around Athens? Come on, give me some Hutson Mason and some Faton Bauta, I’ll live with that if we lose.

TheAnt

April 13th, 2014
7:41 pm

Georgia’s yards per pass attempt national rankings:
#11 in 2010
#32 in 2011
#1 in 2012
#13 in 2013

Georgia’s passing interceptions national rankings:
#53 in 2010
#116 in 2011
#90 in 2012
#88 in 2013

Probably why we only won 67% of the games from 2010-2013.

TheAnt

April 13th, 2014
8:02 pm

Alabama usually ranks #75 or worse nationally in pass attempts per game. Won’t win the Heisman for their passing leader, but can collect some BCS trophies instead.

TheAnt

April 13th, 2014
8:17 pm

South Carolina only threw 4 int’s against ranked teams in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

In the same time span, UGA threw 19 int’s against ranked teams.

Peggy Sue

April 13th, 2014
9:29 pm

Mason will be better than Murray, that’s for certain. We can all agree on that fact.

DawgVoiceofReason

April 13th, 2014
9:58 pm

Peggy Sue hasn’t been worth squat since Buddy Holley sang about her. Knows nothing about QBs, but then that wasn’t what attracted Buddy to her. She just makes me blue when she posts about something she doesn’t understand, that Peggy Sue.

DawgVoiceofReason

April 13th, 2014
10:00 pm

TheAnt can’t move the rubber tree plant because he’s too busy spewing out worthless stats. But then he’s just an ant. He doesn’t know his hind section from his front section, or his middle for that matter.

DawgVoiceofReason

April 13th, 2014
10:03 pm

Amen (Corner) to that, HotDawg. Proud of Bubba. He lapped that former Tech guy and the rest of the field.

Babalu Skies

April 13th, 2014
11:21 pm

Why is #14 running away from Girly? Are you sure you want this guy on your defense?

RED DOG 77

April 14th, 2014
12:58 am

Bab…………yea…………that number 14 is the QB Hutson Mason, just following through after the hand-off…………I think all and all it was a pretty good scrimmage, kids had some fun and the grown-ups got a much needed football fix. I think Mason has been working hard as his posture seems more polished to me…………I just hope these Bulldogs can keep their noses clean and work hard this summer……….When I travel back to Athens in August I want to see some mean and nasty yard Dawgs whoopin’ up on Clemson…………..GO DAWGS………….. Oh Yea………..congrats Bubba……dgd

DAWGMAN

April 14th, 2014
1:58 am

Thanks, Bill
Glad to hear about Bauta. The Dabber Man from Clemson does not expect, nor intend to lose in Athens. He is a fierce competitor. Our HC is used to better coached teams pulling his britches down and spanking his fanny. And taking his lunch money ( about $300K per ).
Glad to hear that D seems more focused. They will need to be so.
Has Russ slimmed down? You know, pumping up the volume is liable is liable to interrupt nap time, or quicken the hardening of his arteries.
How ’bout dem dogs???

WWFDawg

April 14th, 2014
2:07 am

What Bama does, is they run the ball relentlessly, then they go all play action on you with the long one when they get up around midfield. It’s not the yards per pass attempt that’s been the problem for UGA, you want that to be over 10 yards per pass if you can, but it’s the number of pass attempts, and the number of interceptions. The way Bama does it, they run the ball more than UGA, throw less per game, but average a good pass per attempt because of the way the run sets up play action bombs. They are also coached to overthrow their receiver, lead the receiver, on long passes especially, and along with effectively running the football, and calling less passes per game, results in much less interceptions.

They really emphasize turnover margin at Bama in practices, all heck breaks loose if a Qb throws an interceptions, the coaches all go nuts on him. And if a defensive back misses on a fumble recovery or a db misses on an interception, the coaches unload on them.

Columbus Dawg

April 14th, 2014
7:46 am

I have now watched the game on DVR, Mason is the man. It is his offense now. I am sorry I doubted him. He looked great. No deer in the headlights look anymore. The OL and D will come together. Now I know why Richt is smiling.

Mutley

April 14th, 2014
11:47 am

The spring game is over and the Kool-Aid stand is open and business is booming at least until Clemson comes to Athens.

Buzz-Off

April 14th, 2014
11:51 am

@boom@9:56am (4/13)
Your last sentence in item #1 is total crappola!!! I quit reading your comments at that point because I realized you were a Murray hater and don’t have a clue about football

Buzz-Off

April 14th, 2014
11:56 am

Are “The Ant” and “Dog(no)fan” the same posters? They are both pessimists, obnoxious and clueless.

secfan

April 14th, 2014
12:49 pm

@boom@9:56am
Sir your comments prove that you know very little about football. Please keep posting as you make me laugh!!

dawgfan

April 14th, 2014
1:04 pm

I’m not a pessimist. I’m a realist. I also care a great deal about Georgia Football and want to see it reach its potential, unlike many who are more concerned about the coach. We aren’t reaching our potential under current leadership. Richt is outworked and outprepared by his peers. I’be got a solid 8 years of football backing me up on this.

Maybe it would help if someone from the Mark Richt Fan Club could show me where I’m wrong. Their responses to my posts are quite telling. They spend all their time attacking me and not my message. It’s called admission by silence. They are fakes and phonies.

They care more about the coach than the program.

I-DOG

April 14th, 2014
1:11 pm

Even the most ardent Mason doubters have to admit that the guy is having a good Spring. I have been saying all along that he will be better than most people think he will. There are two things I really like about him. He has been throwing for a high percentage and he takes care of the football. He has thrown very few INT’s this Spring.

I still have a lot of concerns about the upcoming squad and my best guess is that we will have a 3 loss regular season. However, if we can go from having one of the worst turnover ratios in the conference to better than average this season… that one stat could really give us a chance to win some of the tough games.

Murray has a better arm than Mason. I think we all can admit that. Murray was a damn good quarterback, but he did throw some inopportune interceptions (they just seem to come at the worst times and in the games we could least afford them). He also lost some really crucial fumbles when he got sacked. It is one thing to take an 11 yard sack and then punt the ball. It is another thing to give the other team the ball at our own 22 yard line by fumbling and worse yet have them pick it up and score a TD.

I’m not trying to Murray bash. I’m saying that maybe having a little less talent at the QB position isn’t a terrible thing as long as he can spread it around to the weapons we have and move the chains and TAKE CARE OF THE BALL. He seems to be really good at that.

Our Fanbase is filled with Morons

April 14th, 2014
2:34 pm

dawgfan

April 14th, 2014
1:04 pm

I’m not a pessimist. I’m a realist. I also care a great deal about Georgia Football and want to see it reach its potential, unlike many who are more concerned about the coach. We aren’t reaching our potential under current leadership. Richt is outworked and outprepared by his peers. I’be got a solid 8 years of football backing me up on this.

Maybe it would help if someone from the Mark Richt Fan Club could show me where I’m wrong. Their responses to my posts are quite telling. They spend all their time attacking me and not my message. It’s called admission by silence. They are fakes and phonies.

They care more about the coach than the program.
*******************************************************************

What a stupid post. Mark Richt is the coach of the team so that’s why he gets supported. you are an idiot to the max if you think that puts the love for the coach ahead of the love for the school and the program. I support the oaches because they are our coaches. You bash them because you love being miserable 100% of the time. I choose to not live that way. That doesn’t mean I’m any less of a fan than you are but it makes me a whole lot smarter than you that’s for dam sure

gtcaryd

April 14th, 2014
2:58 pm

I think Bill was being kind when he said the OL played “Decent”. I saw Thues get turned around a few times. And Mason is a good QB, but he is no AM.

Whiznot

April 14th, 2014
3:33 pm

Why was Brice Ramsey so inaccurate. I can only assume that he was trying to throw with both eyes closed.

FAN

April 14th, 2014
5:25 pm

What a stupid post. Mark Richt is the coach of the team so that’s why he gets supported. you are an idiot to the max if you think that puts the love for the coach ahead of the love for the school and the program. I support the oaches because they are our coaches. You bash them because you love being miserable 100% of the time. I choose to not live that way. That doesn’t mean I’m any less of a fan than you are but it makes me a whole lot smarter than you that’s for dam sure.

Best post I’ve seen. Dawgfan would rather us lose and be right than us win and admit MR did a good job. Dawgfan, seriously GFY.

Buzz-Off

April 14th, 2014
7:32 pm

@2:34 and 5:25

You guys are spot on!!!

gtcaryd

April 14th, 2014
7:57 pm

dawgfan

April 14th, 2014
8:52 pm

Past 5 seasons of Mark Richt Football:

6-17 vs. Top 25 teams.

2-10 vs. Top 10 teams.

2-3 in bowl games.

2-3 in season openers (0 wins against BCS level team)

I just want a coach that can do better than this. Is that so wrong?

Geez.

Wing Attack Plan R

April 14th, 2014
10:08 pm

Why does McGarity put up with this? It’s plainly a case of mediocrity with no end in sight.

RED DOG 77

April 14th, 2014
11:28 pm

our fanbase is filled with morons/ FAN…………..Gentlemen thank you both for bringing maturity back to this site…………truth is our fan base is really pretty dern smart, there is a fringe element that hangs around and slings it’s crud as much as it can……….me? you bet I’ve had some issues through the years with play calls, coaching choices, the whole thing, but it does not behove me nor does it help the university that I love to ramble on non-stop about what a loser coach Mark Richt is or isn’t…………..I support him, after that, lets talk football………..If you don’t like Richt, fine, tell us then let it go………I don’t want to hear about your problems because you weren’t breast fed, I don’t want to know what you do in your bedroom, and I damn sure don’t want to hear your constant squeal that you dislike Mark Richt…………I hear ya………..now try talking football, you might find you enjoy it, college football is a wonderful and exciting game…………..RED

Columbus Dawg

April 15th, 2014
5:45 am

Watched Richt’s comments up in the booth when Belue ask him about Michel and Chubb. Richt’s eyes lit up. I think he knows that these two are going to come in and really help the run game . There should NEVER be a drop off in the run game with the talent that will be available. Douglas is a DGD, but it will be really garbage time when he gets carries. I have heard from somone who spoke to Keith Marshall Friday night at the awards banquet. He is definately NOT going to agree to a redshirt for 2014. He said he would be ready to go all out for voluntaries in the summer. Much will be added to the offense for the fall. The OL will have to surely have to tighten up, but Mason looked like he has become more comfortable, and I think the linemen are now getting used to the tempo he likes. This is how Mason will roll. Bennett said it was wearing them out. I say to that , GET IN SHAPE!

Tomás Broun

April 15th, 2014
6:40 am

There are only about five games this year that the dawgs will definitely win, and they’ll get lucky in one or two others. At best, their record will be 7-5, plus the outcome of some meaningless minor bowl game. In other words, same ole same ole.

And so another lousy season will pass, and by this time next year, the Kool-Aid will be flowing again, and the fans will be all pumped up for another season.

On and on it goes with no change except the millions of dollars that keep piling up in Mark Richt’s bank account.

dawgfan

April 15th, 2014
6:41 am

Maturity Red Dog? You mean like making up lies about people because you can’t think of any other intelligent response? You mean crying like a little girl and hurling insults because someone is critical of your hero? Very mature big guy.

Good grief.

dawgfan

April 15th, 2014
7:52 am

Would anyone like to explain to me which part of my 8:52 PM post was not football related? Red Dog says I don’t talk about football.

Another lie I suppose. He’s good at that.

whiskeybreath

April 15th, 2014
8:02 am

The only bunch in the world that can celebrate a spring game like they actually won something.
Was there any difference in that spring game and 30 others? The defense was non existent.
I wouldn’t count on that defense stopping many teams. Pruitt got one on you guys. Way to go Bama
boy. I don’t care if Nick Saban was coaching defense at Ga, it wouldn’t stop anybody. The Ga Way.