Georgia‚Äôs quarterbacks combined to throw for 709 yards in the Bulldogs‚Äô second preseason scrimmage on Friday night, but a pair of freshmen in the secondary who already were making waves continued to come up big.
Safety Dominick Sanders returned a Hutson Mason pass 54 yards for a touchdown and had four tackles. Cornerback Rico Johnson, contending for a starting spot, also had an interception, a pass breakup and four tackles.
Mason completed 22 of 31 passes for 204 yards with two touchdowns and the one pick in the closed scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.
Mason hit Chris Conley on the opening drive for a touchdown on a drive of about 11 plays, but coach Mark Richt was none too pleased with the sloppiness he saw offensively that followed.
‚ÄúFrom then on, not to say there weren‚Äôt good plays offensively, but the execution deteriorated kind of as the day went on,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúWay too many fumbled snaps or poor shotgun snaps. Too many guys jumping off sides. Just too many guys having to be babysat out there as far as getting lined up right.”
Richt said it slowed down the pace and called it ‚Äúfrustrating,‚Äù for what was preseason practice No. 17. And he told the team just that.
‚ÄúMaybe there was too much pressure on this scrimmage,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúMaybe they felt it more. I was making sure everybody knew how important it was in deciding everybody‚Äôs fate as far as playing time. Maybe some guys got a little uptight about that. It‚Äôs going to be a lot more pressure when there‚Äôs 90,000 and a few million people watching the game I would think.‚Äù
The good news for Georgia is Richt said most of that came from the backup offensive line.
The scrimmage again matched the No. 1 offensive and defensive units against each other and the No. 2 offense versus the No. 2 defense.
If there‚Äôs any movement in the race to be the backup quarterback, Richt wanted to confer first with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo before revealing that.
Redshirt sophomore Faton Bauta completed 10 of 17 passes for 152 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Redshirt freshman Brice Ramsey was 13 of 17 for 187 yards with a touchdown and interceptions.
‚ÄúStatistically, both had a pretty good day,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúI think they‚Äôre both capable, I‚Äôll say that.‚Äù
Freshman Jacob Park went 11 of 16 for 166 yards.
‚ÄúWe probably had more snaps in this scrimmage than we may have ever had in the past,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúThe stats favor offense in throwing the ball because the quarterbacks aren‚Äôt live. Now Faton was live, so they got a chance to play ball with him‚Äù
On a night tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall didn‚Äôt get much work (combined for 22 yards on eight carries), here were the leaders in receiving yards: walk-on Kenny Towns with 10 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown, freshman tight end Jeb Blazevich with 5 catches for 112 yards, freshman Shakenneth Williams with two for 72 and sophomore Brendan Langley with 4 for 71 and a touchdown.
‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt need to see much from them,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúWe wanted to see the younger backs perform and they did a nice job. They ran the ball, they secured the ball, they pass protected.‚Äù
Freshman Sony Michel was the top rusher with 39 yards on four carries and caught 3 passes for 20 yards. Freshman Nick Chubb had 30 yards on nine carries with a touchdown.
Outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins was the top tackler with nine, including four for loss and two sacks.
Johnson, from Swainsboro, picked off Ramsey when he was trying to throw it of bounds, but didn‚Äôt throw it away far enough.
‚ÄúThe guy just leaps up and makes a beautiful grab and lands in bounds and make a nice pick,‚Äù Richt said.
Sanders interception off Mason came on what Richt said looked like a busted play.
‚ÄúHe was trying to take advantage of the defense having only 10 on the field and I think Dominick just kind of came out of nowhere on him and made a beautiful play and took it to the house,‚Äù Richt said of the Tucker product.
Richt said any long passes came on bombs in single coverage.
‚ÄúIt wasn‚Äôt like guys were catching the ball and splitting the defense and going for a touchdown,‚Äù he said.
No statistics were recited for two outside linebackers expected to be impact players: Leonard Floyd and Lorenzo Carter.
Georgia opens the season in two weeks against Clemson in Sanford Stadium.