With Murray away, Mason had his long-awaited chance to run the first-team offense in Georgia’s first spring scrimmage on Tuesday at Sanford Stadium.
Mason, a junior who redshirted in 2012 so he wouldn’t be in the same class as Murray, completed 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Murray, the senior three-year starter, had an excused absence to receive the “Peach of an Athlete” role model award in Atlanta. The award recognizes excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community.
“I’m going to see if he can sign up for some more banquets and pass the reps around,” Mason said with a laugh.
Mason, expected to be Murray’s top backup, said it was crucial to have the full day with the starters.
“It was important,” Mason said. “It feels like honestly I haven’t played football in so long coming off the redshirt year. Getting back out there and getting in with the ones, you’ve kinda got that new feeling. I had the jitters a little bit because I’m not used to going out with the ones.”
Mason (6-3, 206) appeared in four games as a freshman in 2010 and four games in 2011, when he completed 18 of 30 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Most of Mason’s practice time has been with the backups, so he said he enjoyed the rare chance to throw to such starters as Malcolm Mitchell.
Coach Mark Richt said Mason is ready when needed.
“Hutson I thought did a nice job,” Richt said. “There were some balls that just got blown sideways for everybody. But Hutson has got a good feel for what we’re doing and getting everybody lined up. This is going into his fourth year in the system. He’s very capable of running the show and I thought he did a good job today.”
All the quarterbacks fought the windy conditions at Sanford Stadium.
Christian LeMay was only 1-of-11 passing for 13 yards. Freshman Brice Ramsey was 6-of-10 for 51 yards with three interceptions, and Parker Welch was 5-of-10 for 33 yards with an interception.
“There were a lot of picks,” Richt said. “It was a rough day to throw and catch, and there were quite a few drops.”
Mason wasn’t about to complain about the cold or wind.
“It felt awesome,” Mason said, adding “I had a little more time in the pocket” behind the first-team offensive line.
“With the conditions, I thought we moved the ball well,” he said. “I thought we ran the ball great.
“There were things we need to improve on, things I need to improve on, but for our first scrimmage I thought it was definitely a positive day.”
Keith Marshall was the leading rusher with 11 carries for 71 yards. Todd Gurley had only two carries for 15 yards.
Mason’s touchdown pass was to Chris Conley, who had three catches for 72 yards. Mitchell also had three catches. Freshman Blake Tibbs had four catches for 42 yards.
Ray Drew, Jordan Jenkins and T.J. Stripling each had two sacks. Cornerback Sheldon Dawson had two interceptions and returned one 67 yards for a touchdown.
Linebacker Ramik Wilson led the Bulldogs with seven tackles.
“What I liked was they played physical, they played with a lot of energy out there,” Richt said. “There was some emotion. There were a couple scuffles, nothing serious, but they showed that they were getting after it.”