JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ‚Äî Hutson Mason may only have two starts under his belt, but Georgia‚Äôs new quarterback has already endured a whirlwind of up and down emotions.
Stephen B. Morton/AP
Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason (14) fumbles the ball during the second half of the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game against Nebraska, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in Jacksonville, Fla. Mason recovered his own fumble. Nebraska beat Georgia 24-19.
The redshirt junior nearly complemented the come-from-behind feat he led at Georgia Tech in Wednesday‚Äôs Gator Bowl before the Bulldogs fell short on fourth-and-3, just 16 yards from the end zone in their 24-19 Gator Bowl loss to Nebraska.
Mason finished 21 of 39 for 320 yards with a touchdown and interception. Comparable to Georgia‚Äôs outing against Georgia Tech, Mason and the Bulldogs started a little slower than he would‚Äôve liked, he said. Georgia crossed midfield five times in the first half but yielded three field goals before taking a one-point deficit to the locker room.
Mason said he had some trust woes in his offensive line and receivers, which he also endured against Georgia Tech. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said those are natural jitters for a young starter, especially at quarterback.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs an instinctive player and, a little bit, wouldn‚Äôt pull the trigger the last couple games,‚Äù Bobo said. ‚ÄúYou‚Äôve got to trust your guys to go make plays because when you throw it late or don‚Äôt trust it, that‚Äôs when sacks come. You‚Äôve got to trust it and rip it. But that comes with playing. That comes with taking those live reps, the timing with the ones.‚Äù
Bobo also said that Mason will improve on his play at the line of scrimmage, particularly in playcall adjustments. The coach also noted that Mason‚Äôs offensive makeup is much different than Aaron Murray, who was known to often shout audibles. Mason‚Äôs game doesn‚Äôt necessarily allow for that, Bobo said.
‚ÄúYou don‚Äôt want to give a new starter so much that he doesn‚Äôt feel comfortable,‚Äù Bobo said. ‚ÄúYou want him to just go play. That‚Äôs our goal for him. … He likes to go fast pace, where there‚Äôs not a lot of checking.‚Äù
Mason responded in the second half with only 10 completions, but those went for 171 yards and Georgia‚Äôs first touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter. The score brought the game to within five points and swung momentum before Mother Nature reared again and dropped the heaviest rain of the afternoon.
The Bulldogs got the ball back another three times after the score but subsided on a few fourth down plays that resulted from the precipitation.
Mason and the Bulldogs displayed a down demeanor afterwards, but the quarterback sought positives in heading to next year. He believes that earning two starts before the 2014 season opener made a lasting impact on his teammates as well.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs huge for going into next season,‚Äù Mason said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs huge when you talk about (if) guys believe in you. For my career here, I‚Äôve been kind of known as a practice player. For guys to see me perform in two games, I believe they believe in me.‚Äù