Georgia freshmen: To play or not to play QB Hutson Mason

Georgia may have no choice but to play true freshman Hutson Mason this season. (Ledger-Enquirer photo)

Georgia may have no choice but to play true freshman Hutson Mason this season. (Ledger-Enquirer photo)

Georgia will tee it up between the hedges against Louisiana-LaFayette this Saturday. And it will do so without a lot of youth on the field.

The Bulldogs look like a relative old folks home compared to SEC East brethren such as Tennessee and Florida. Seventeen true freshmen are included on the Gators’ two-deep depth chart for Miami-Ohio while the Vols are expected to play 17 freshmen and redshirt freshmen in their opener against UT-Martin.

Nothing of the sort for Georgia. Much attention will be placed on redshirt freshman Aaron Murray, who will make his debut as the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs. But the only true freshman on the two-deep is quarterback Hutson Mason. Junior college transfer Jakar Hamilton will get the starting nod at one of the safety positions. Otherwise, it’s a relatively seasoned squad that will take the field for Georgia in the season opener.

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The biggest question surrounding the Bulldogs’ rookies will be whether commit to playing Mason right away this season or try to redshirt him.  Odds are pretty good that Murray will get his bell rung and have to come out of a game for at least one play this season. And with Logan Gray concentrating on receiver and missing extended time with an ankle injury, it seems even more likely they Bulldogs will need to have Mason ready.

Head coach Mark Richt has been evasive on the subject of playing Mason. “We haven’t told him anything yet,” he said. “That’ll be coming up here pretty soon. You might have to ask me after the game Saturday.”

Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said Mason is solidly entrenched as the No. 2 quarterback. “He’s No. 2,” Bobo said. “He’s one play away [from playing in a game]. If there was an injury, he’d be in the game.”

True freshmen Richt said he expects to play are safety Alec Ogletree, fullback Zander Ogletree (special teams) and cornerback Derek Owens — and said he’s not sure who else. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said OLB T.J. Stripling had a chance to see the field after he “showed me something” late in camp.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Michael Bennett of Alpharetta is listed as third-team split end, so he could definitely see some time.

This didn’t project as a high-impact recruiting class. In fact, it was the lowest-rated Georgia class under Richt, ranked No. 15 by Rivals.com and No. 21 by Scout.

GEORGIA CLASS OF 2010

  • LB Demetre Baker (6-0, 205), Orange Park Fla.: Likely redshirt
  • OT Brent Benedict (6-5, 275), Jacksonville, Fla.: Redshirt
  • WR Michael Bennett (6-3, 186), Alpharetta: Likely playing time
  • DE Brandon Burrows (6-3, 240), Marietta: Likely redshirt
  • DB Marc Deas (6-1, 185), Kissimmee, Fla.: Likely redshirt
  • DE Jalen Fields (6-5, 250), Dalton: DNQ. Attending Georgia Military junior college.
  • OT Kenarious Gates (6-5, 300), Grantville: Likely redshirt.
  • DB Jakar Hamilton (6-2, 196), Edgefield, S.C.: Impact player. JUCO transfer will start at safety in the season opener.
  • OL Kolton Houston (6-5, 270), Buford: Likely redshirt
  • QB Hutson Mason (6-3, 195), Marietta: Probable playing time. Likely will burn redshirt to have ready just in case.
  • RB Ken “Boo” Malcome: (6-0, 215), Decatur: Likely redshirt
  • DE Dexter Morant (6-7, 240), Manning, S.C.: Likely redshirt
  • DB Alec Ogletree (6-3, 215), Newnan: Likely playing time. Georgia’s highest-ranked signee will play safety and special teams.
  • FB Zander Ogletree (5-10, 207), Newnan: Likely playing time. A former LB, Dogs like him on special teams coverage units.
  • WR Lonnie Outlaw (6-5, 180), Rochelle: DNQ. Attending Georgia Military junior college.
  • DB Derek Owens (5-9, 180), Jacksonville, Fla. Likely playing time. Played his way up CB depth chart in camp.
  • DT Garrison Smith (6-3, 250) Atlanta: Likely redshirt
  • DE T.J. Stripling (6-6, 225), Decatur: Likely playing time. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said the SWD grad was impressive late in camp.
  • DT Mike Thornton (6-1, 280), Stone Mountain: Likely redshirt

>>>Georgia Tech freshmen: S Isaiah Johnson poised to make sudden impact for Jackets.

>>>Tomorrow: Freshmen of impact around the South

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72 comments Add your comment

rduck

August 31st, 2010
2:18 pm

Mason because Murray is injury prone. Not wishing it on him, just sayin’.

wesleywhatwhat

August 31st, 2010
2:18 pm

go ahead and play him. it won’t matter.

a soft schedule won’t prevent another LONG season in athens.

not a good year to be a georgia fan.

Axlrodes

August 31st, 2010
2:20 pm

Enter your comments here

Axlrodes

August 31st, 2010
2:20 pm

1st!!!

Ga State. We RUNT this state!

Sanford Drive

August 31st, 2010
2:22 pm

PLEASE play him!!! This year, more than last year, and more than ever, we need to create experience off the bench.

Murray scares me enough as it is, though I am comfortable with the thought of him taking leadership. Forget about years of eligibility. With LeMay coming in next season, and more than likely taking a red shirt himself, the depth is on the way.

I would LOVE to see the Murray/1st team show the entire first half this Saturday, then get some 2nd stringers in with a Murray/Mason platoon the 2nd half.

GO DAWGS!!!!!

And Dawg fans, check out why we NEED to cheer hard for Oregon State and Virginia Tech this September!! http://dawgdayafternoon.blogspot.com/

iknowgeorgia footbal

August 31st, 2010
2:30 pm

well….if i was in the coaches minds, i would guess that they’re thinking (or maybe hoping) that this will never have to be answered. If Murray stays healthy the entire season, there’s no reason that he can’t play an entire 12-14 game season. Sure, we have to consider the ‘what if’ scenarios in Georgia’s cupcake games–but, again, despite whatever totals the offense produces, there’s no reason why Murray can not still finish out games. So maybe you have Mason as your #2 but do not play him unless you absolutely have to.

Delbert D.

August 31st, 2010
2:35 pm

For the best chance of winning this season, Mason has to get playing time to mitigate disaster if Murray gets injured. Now, from a recruiting standpoint, with Murray and Mason both being Sophs next season, that looks to be the right situation for prospective 2011 QB recruits as well. There will be no defined succession of QBs lined ahead of them.

Axlrodes

August 31st, 2010
2:36 pm

I can’t find anywya to justify not playing Mason. We have Murray for at least two seasons, and will have LeMay man the helm after that. We have no long term plans for Mason, so why not let the kid cut his teeth and get some experience.

Also, it is inevitable that Murray will be coming out of games, so i think this conversation is a moot point. Do they plan on leaving Murray in when we are up by 3-4 touchdown on Saturday and the Rajun Cajun’s are shooting for his knees? Perfect time to bring Mason along and see what he’s got. If Georgia plays it conservative, and Murray gets ‘popped’ during a potential game-winning 4th Q drive, what do we do then? Do we want Mason’s first collegiate pass to be the difference between a W and a L?

I know several people on here are nervous about Murray. The kid has poise, but he does not have stature or experience you want from a starter. Want to know a secret? The kid is bigger than Eric Zeier, and i think every Georgia fan would take him any day of the week.

Dawgs97

August 31st, 2010
2:39 pm

There’s no choice but to play him as a Freshman. In fact, assuming this Saturday’s opener is a blowout by the 3rd Quarter (and it better be…) I would absolutely get Huston Mason in there to play almost the entire 2nd half. If Murray gets hurt at any point, you want Hutson to have already felt what it’s like to run the huddle and the offense, inside a real football game that’s got an actual opponent. (even if the opponent this weekend isn’t good).

As has been stated a lot, not only is Logan Gray showing well at wide receiver, if he had been ANY good as a Quarterback, he would be the Georgia Quarterback NOW. With Logan out of the mix, the only QB options after Murray and Mason are 2 walk-ons. With Christian Lemay in Athens next year, there’s no reason whatsoever not to have Mason in there as a full time 2nd string Quarterback now.

Frank Lane

August 31st, 2010
2:43 pm

Play them both. See who has the hottest hand.

JD

August 31st, 2010
2:43 pm

What’s all the fuss about? He’s going to play, period. This kid can be as good as he wants to be since Murray is going to take all the heat – good or bad. Let’s see where this goes and check back in 3 or 4 games….

Vinny D

August 31st, 2010
2:45 pm

nice breakdown! Will be interesting to see how it works out at the end of the year. I rather see Mason get some time against Lafayette.

jimmymack

August 31st, 2010
2:54 pm

we have to get mason some snap’s.if murray get’s banged up or is out we need him to at least have a clue.

Jealous of Dawgs

August 31st, 2010
2:54 pm

how do you ascertain that Murray is injury prone? because he had a broken leg in a highschool game?

Sam

August 31st, 2010
2:56 pm

Place Mason this year, redshirt him next year unless he really lights it up. Funny how on another blog there was all this talk about Mason leaving early. A little early to forecast that!

poopdawg

August 31st, 2010
2:57 pm

If Mason wants to play understanding how little playing time he might get, i say play him. Sometimes you gotta say “What the heck.”

BigTimeTECHFan

August 31st, 2010
3:03 pm

Reggie Ball started his 1st game as a true freshmen. Actualy played better then Chris Leak his first year, but he never got better. Leak got a lot better.

10SEConds

August 31st, 2010
3:06 pm

Axlrodes, yours is at least as good an analysis of this situation as I’ve read anywhere. Personally, I’ve been on the fence on this–as if my opinion matters to Coach Richt!–but after reading your cogent analysis, I think you’re exactly right. Having a deeply experienced back up over the next few years is by no means a bad thing, as we know from the Jackson/Johnson and Greene/Shockley experiences. LeMay may turn out to be the best thing since mint juleps on crushed ice, but depth is never bad.

DAWGS#1

August 31st, 2010
3:11 pm

Sanford drive I went to the link and found it intersting however I have a hard time believing the bcs will overlook an SECOND champion who is undefeated.

DAWGS#1

August 31st, 2010
3:13 pm

*SEC Champion

Frank

August 31st, 2010
3:23 pm

Burn the shirt.

THWGT!!!

Eisendawg

August 31st, 2010
3:30 pm

I would definately play him. In fact, I’d play him some in the first game. That game should be well in hand by the 4th quarter, so give him a few snaps. That would be better than waiting til a possible injury, and throwing him out there in a high profile game with no experience.

Bull

August 31st, 2010
3:44 pm

They need to get Mason some snaps in non pressure situations. Get him learning early….

Destin Dawg

August 31st, 2010
3:53 pm

Play him !!!!! Great passer and he’s been working hard to be ready.. needs some playing time, depth is on the way … LeMay and Marshall if necessary next year

BullDawg Rick

August 31st, 2010
3:56 pm

Play Hutson Mason!! Give him some snaps in the opener.. Gotta be ready for anything…

GO Dawgs!!

Mobile Dawg

August 31st, 2010
3:56 pm

Makes no sense not to play him. First we need a back up. Second, Richt has a pretty good track record of recruiting QB’s, and good one’s aren’t going to sit on the bench for 3 years like Cox and Shockley did. I personally don’t see a problem with a rotation of QB’s so long as they are both sound. Go with the one having success. Third, Richt needs to start doing what’s best for the team vs the individual, see the second reason. He pampered Stafford to the point that we had no experience when Stafford left early for the NFL. Fourth, with the experience surrounding the young QB’s we can be much more conservative with them, if necessary, if this team, IMO, is coached properly on the offensive side of the ball.

MountainDawg

August 31st, 2010
4:00 pm

Mason is a very talented kid w/ lots of pocket savvy. He needs snaps/PT to develop his skills & experience. Given time, he could be an All-SEC QB.

GTPhenom

August 31st, 2010
4:03 pm

G-T-Phe-Non! I’m in the house!

Who cares? Seriously. These dudes are gonna get crushed when they face Tech. What difference does it make? My guess is that they’d rather redshirt than be hummiliated by the Robot and his crew.

G-T-Phe-Non! I’m in the house!

GTPhenom

August 31st, 2010
4:04 pm

G-T-Phe-Non! I’m in the house!

MtnDoggie, the only pocket-savy these guys have is in picking pockets. Whoa, no I didn’t. Oh yes I did.

G-T-Phe-Non! I’m in the house!

Yikes!

August 31st, 2010
4:07 pm

Its always a good year to be a Georgia fan, Wesley

August 31st, 2010
4:16 pm

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you, Georgia opponents

Super Star

August 31st, 2010
4:25 pm

UGA is very young and even more inexperienced at QB than anyone could have imagined. I just don’t think they get the job done and Richt’s seat
gets even hotter…

shane#1

August 31st, 2010
4:33 pm

Mason will play, sooner or later. It is always better to play a QB a little too late than a little too early, and Murray needs all the reps he can get, so I don’t think Mason will get any snaps Saturday. Mason will play however. The red shirt list looks about right to me, mostly linemen, and red shirting seems to help linemen and QBs more than anyone else. Malcome may play this year. He seemed to hit the wall about half way through camp so he will have to get his legs back under him and block better to get some PT.

Einsteindawg

August 31st, 2010
4:41 pm

Of course you play him. If he’s that good, he’ll be gone in three years so what’s the downside. Besides, look how the inexperience of Joe Cox and Logan Gray worked out. CMR is on the hot seat as many of us long-time, loyal fans don’t believe we’re getting our moneys worth ($3M p/year for mediocrity).

sogadog

August 31st, 2010
4:46 pm

CMR and CMB should have played Murray last year for two reasons. One, Cox was struggling and throwing ints and two, Murray would have had some experience to start this season. It is a shame AJ Green has not had a good, experienced quarterback to throw to him for what should have been his two most productive years, 09 and 10. If he had an experienced QB throwing to him this year he could have a shot at the Heisman trophy. I hope the coaches dont let this happen again and they do a better job recruiting and preparing quarterbacks. Only two of CMR’s recruits have panned out at QB; DJ Shockley and Matt Stafford. They should play Mason ASAP, hopefully a whole quarter against LaLa so he can gain some valuable experience if Murray goes down.

Jason

August 31st, 2010
4:50 pm

why all this talk ab out red shirting? UGA has a stud coming in next year in LeMay…no need to keep Mason in the bank when we need to be spending now. Don’t make the same mistake we made last year and red shirt a guy who should be out there on the field when the time comes.

Floyd

August 31st, 2010
5:07 pm

OF COURSE you play Mason…you ALWAYS play the second string QB. If Mason is indeed one play away from seeing legitimate game action, then this decision is a no-brainer.

Einsteindawg

August 31st, 2010
5:09 pm

Mark Richt should be saying “of course Mason is going to play”. If experience is the great teacher, how does not playing work out? Had CMR done this with Joe Cox in 2008 & 2009, Murray would be lights out this year with the experience he got last year. And, we probably would have won 10 games, too.

2dog

August 31st, 2010
5:09 pm

play him! we don’t need a 3 QB debacle like we had a few years ago (remember Joe T- Stafford – Cox in 2006?), but we definitely need 2 QBs ready to take the field at any time. all it takes is one hit to the side of a knee, and your starting QB is warming the bench.

Tide Roll

August 31st, 2010
5:12 pm

Nobody in their right mind backs up a redshirt freshman with a true freshman from Lassiter High! It,s going to be Logan Gray who isn,t that bad.You should havesigned Cam Newton, the top rated Juco QB in America, who attended Atlanta Westlake,and after he leads you to two SEC crowns, you then start Aaron Murray, who by now would be a sesoned red shirt junior, The same way Florida and Alabama, two national title programs, brought along John Brantley with Tim Tebo,and Greg McElroy with John Parker Wilson. By Richt and Bobo not going after Newton, they have effectively empowered a hated rival with a physical freak of nature and allowed them to do the very thing Uga should be doing. Auburn can now bring along Barrett Trotter at a reasonable pace and have him ready when Cam leaves for the NFL. This inexperienced quarterback scenario at Uga could have easily been avoided, and is simply a ploy to keep Richt and bobo on the gravy train for three more years. Everybody ges it but you cool-aid drinking Georgia fans.

I-DOG

August 31st, 2010
5:13 pm

I see the prediction above about Michael Bennett getting playing time this year. I would be surprised if he did with a fair number of WR’s ahead of him on the depth chart and I don’t really recall the players or coaches talking about him doing anything special yet in practice or the scrimmages.

Have to play Mason in the 1st game and would be smart to give him 1 series in the first half. It not only provides some help this year if he is needed, but if Murray doesn’t pan out or gets hurt NEXT YEAR, we will be glad that Mason has SOME game experience. Even if it is only 40 plays and 10 passes this year. Can you imagined going into next year with a starting QB with 0 game experience again? If Murray stays healthy and plays well, you can always redshirt Mason another year.

1eyedJack

August 31st, 2010
5:33 pm

Get him some time under center when it counts and maybe later you can count on him when you really need him.

dawgster

August 31st, 2010
5:40 pm

Tide Roll…your logic again amuses me…but see if you can follow this..Cam Newton would not have been allowed into georgia due to his missteps at Fla….but even if he had, what would the fan base have said had we been able to get him into school…and no its not quite the same as a high school kid making a silly mistake..I’m not saying the Newton kid doesn’t deserve another chance, he has gotten that and it has worked out for him, but the info that i have heard and read is that he would not have been admitted, so why waste the recruiting efforts…you blame Coach Richt for that but had there been the possibility to get him in school they may have pursued that..Did you ever consider that he may not have wanted to be a dawg….Also, it is well known that Coach Richt doesn’t go after JUCO players that often as he would like them in they system longer than that…You assume that he is going to be all world just because he did so well in JUCO..Well this ain’t JUCO, its the SEC…lets see how it plays out….Why did your precious Bama and the great Saban not pursue Mr. Newton…or why didn’t alot of other schools pursue him, Tenn, SC, USC, LSU…nothhing against the kid, but its possible that the schools shyed away from him due to the problems that he had….Try to think for once in you life Tide Roll…

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dog daze

August 31st, 2010
6:19 pm

Is not your pre-season game just for the non-free (jailed) or “on-leave” guys and to play everyone?

M R Jokes

August 31st, 2010
6:19 pm

Mason is lucky he even got an offer.

If he plays a single down for the dawgs then they are in deep doo doo.

Rabun Dawg

August 31st, 2010
6:34 pm

I certainly concur with what has been said about playing Mason.How can you not play him? Look at last year, the debacle with Cox. Murray should have been taking many snaps in ‘09, as it was obvious that Gray was not the answer at Qb. Richt should have learned his lesson about redshirting after what he did with Moreno. Play Mason, and from the get-go, meaning early on vs LAL. JMHO. And Tide Roll, I really doubt that Newton could have gotten into UGA, and my guess is that he did not even want to!

DawgByte

August 31st, 2010
6:43 pm

Of course play him! We all know the QB in waiting is the High School dropout coming in next year. He will give us quality depth and likely add to our Fulmer Award to boot.

SKB

August 31st, 2010
6:53 pm

Wait till Lemay gets here, use Aaron for now before, trading him for Lemay.

Seachange

August 31st, 2010
7:09 pm

Let’s cut the “red-shirt”, and go “red-panty”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!