March 26, 2013

Dawgs hit the field



A couple of items immediately jumped out from Georgia's first scrimmage of the spring Tuesday at Sanford Stadium.

One was the fact that backup quarterback Hutson Mason received all of the first-team snaps.

With starter Aaron Murray in Atlanta to receive the 2013 Peach of an Athlete Award, Mason ran the first team and responded by completing 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs, whose scrimmage was pushed back to today after Saturday's originally scheduled session was cancelled due to rain.

"Hutson I thought did a nice job. There were some balls that got blown sideways for everybody, but Hutson has a good feel for what we're doing and getting everybody lined up," head coach Mark Richt said of Mason, who did throw two interceptions. "It's his fourth year in the system so she's very capable of running the show."

Mason was pleased with his effort.

"It felt awesome. I don't get too many reps with the one so getting out there felt good. I had a lot more time in the pocket," he said. "I thought we did well with the conditions. We threw the ball well, ran the ball, so it was a good day, although there are things we obviously need to improve on."

Redshirt sophomore Christian LeMay got the majority of snaps with the second team and completed just 1 of 11 passes for 13 yards during the scrimmage, which was played with winds blowing approximately 15 mph.

"There was a bunch of dropped balls today, I don't know if they were all LeMay's that were thrown, but there was enough dropped balls that I'm sure was part of his statistics," Richt said. "The thing I like about Christian is he's getting a better feel for how to run the show and get guys lined up. He spent a lot of his time today helping some of the young receivers get lined up and where they were supposed to be, changed some protections at the line, made good decisions in the run game so he's really improving."

Running back Keith Marshall appeared to be in mid-season form, rushing 11 times for 71 yards. Todd Gurley also played, but only had two carries for 15 yards.

"With Todd sometimes it's just a matter of the play that's called when they're in there, but I don't know if there's any significance to that," Richt said. "I know Gurley had a good many plays."

Defensively, senior linebacker T.J. Stripling, sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins and junior defensive end Ray Drew each tallied a pair of sacks. Junior linebacker Ramik Wilson led the Bulldogs with seven tackles and sophomore defensive back Sheldon Dawson grabbed a pair of interceptions, returning one 67 yards for a touchdown.

"Sheldon has got a lot of ability and hopefully he'll continue to improve," Richt said. "But there's still going to be some competition because there's some other kids coming in who will get a chance to compete as well. But Sheldon has done well."

For Wilson, the fact he just has to focus on playing Mike instead of bouncing between the outside and inside has made a huge difference.

"It helps me out a lot. I can just learn one position and keep going from there," Wilson said. "I don't have to do double duty, just focus on my time at Mike. It's coming real good."

Richt agreed.

"Wilson has moved inside after playing outside linebacker last year and this seems to be a little more of his natural spot," he said. "He is making a nice adjustment in there."

Richt also singled out freshman safety Tray Matthews for his play. Matthews had four tackles and broke up a pass in the end zone.

"(Matthews) had two early tackles on Keith Marshall that I thought were outstanding stops," said Richt. "They were runs I thought could have broken a little bit longer but he aggressively came up and made a couple of nice open-field tackles."

Richt was also pleased with what he saw from the young defense as far as the players being to line up correctly and being in the right place at the right time.

"I thought they did very well. Of course, you've still got a guy like Amarlo (Herrera) directing traffic in the middle and he's pretty much a veteran of getting everybody lined up," Richt said. "I heard a lot of really good communication."

That wasn't all.

"I liked was they played physical, they played with a lot of energy, and there was some emotion out there," Richt said. "There were a couple of little scuffles but nothing too bad."

NOTES: Richt said he expects starting right tackle John Theus (foot) to be able to resume practicing with the team by the start of next week. … Drew said he received most of his reps at second-team right end while Sterling Bailey got most of the looks with the first team. … Georgia will practice again on Thursday and Friday afternoon before holding its second scrimmage Saturday morning in preparation for the annual G-Day game on April 6.

Statistics

Rushing: Marshall 11-71, Green 6-6, Harton 5-5, Gurley 2-15, Karempelis 3-21. Passing: Mason 14-23-186-2-1, LeMay 1-11-13-0-0, Welch 5-10-33-1-0, Ramsey 6-10-51-3-0. Receiving: Mitchell 3-30, McGowan 2-21, Scott-Wesley 2-40, Erdman 2-29, Conley 3-72, 1 TD, Tibbs 4-42. Tackles: Norman 3, Wilson 7, Matthews 4 (one pass breakup), Rankin 2, Herrera 2, Stripling 2 sacks, Redd 1 sack, Drew 3 tackles, 2 sacks, Smith 2 tackles, Harvey-Clemons 3 tackles, Jenkins 2sacks, Carter 2 tackles and an interception, Deas 2 tackles, S. Dawson 2 interceptions, Mayes 2 tackles, Atkins, 1 TFL and a sack.