March 27, 2013

Mason grateful for opportunity

Hutson Mason from Anthony Dasher on Vimeo.

Hutson Mason joked that he might see if Aaron Murray can't hit the banquet circuit more often.

With Murray in Atlanta Tuesday to receive his Peach of an Athlete Award, Mason was able to take all of the reps with the first-team offense and responded by completing 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown.

The former Lassiter star, who is slated to be Murray's top backup this fall, said it was important prove to himself he could handle the opportunity.

"It was important. It honestly feels like I haven't played football in so long with the redshirt year, so getting back out there, getting back with the ones, it sort of gives you that new feeling," Mason said. "I had the jitters a little bit because I'm not used to going with the ones. You've got to get used to how guys like Malcolm Mitchell, who I don't throw to too much, Artie Lynch … there's different timing on different routes, but I thought for us and those guys who don't get a lot of reps, I thought we did some great things."

Mason's touchdown came on what he said was a 45-yard pass to Chris Conley.

"It was a double-read for us. We were working third-and-long situations, and I just liked my matchup with Chris. It was really a progression on the left side of the field, I was working the left side, saw nothing open so it was boom-boom," he said. "Chris was actually my last progression and he did a great job. It was probably one of our longest plays of the day, probably 45 yards on a long ball. It's always good to see those end up in the end zone."

Mason admitted Tuesday's conditions weren't the best.

Winds that reportedly gusted between 15 and 20 mph made it difficult at times, and resulted in a number of interception by Bulldog quarterbacks.

Head coach Mark Richt reported that two were thrown by Mason, although the quarterback said that wasn't quite true.

"I had one pick, I knew Brice (Ramsey) threw a few, but that's kind of expected. The one I threw was a bomb down the field. I really didn't get to see it because I got hit and knocked down, and when I got up I realized the guy had picked it off," Mason said. "I'll have to go back and watch it on the film, but I'm not going to say that the wind knocked it down. That would be a cheesy excuse."

Added weight has given Dawson confidence

When he first arrived at Georgia in June of 2012, cornerback Sheldon Dawson barely weighed 175 pounds.

Now, at 192, the Memphis native says the added muscle has contributed to him being a more confident player and something he hopes will help him earn a starting role come fall.

"I'm bigger, stronger and I can fight with the receivers. I'm aggressive, I can get good jams, put contact on them, run with them," Dawson said. "My freshman year I was not as confident or as comfortable and I used to get ran by and not touch a receiver. But now, I know if I touch them and bump them, then I'll slow them down and with my speed I'm able to recover real fast."

With Damian Swann the only returning starter at cornerback for the Bulldogs, Dawson obviously has a wonderful opportunity.

Dawson certainly didn't hurt his cause after picking off both Mason and Ramsey during the Bulldogs' scrimmage Tuesday.

"I believe I'm definitely showing I can play, but like I always say it's a game of competition. I could easily show up one day, miss a couple of steps and not be ready and somebody else will come and take the job," Dawson said. "It's great to have competition and I believe that's the best thing to building a team, a good winning team because you need guys competing at this level, going back to back and going hard because it's going to show that somebody's hungry and show that we really want it."

Jenkins determined to improve

Jordan Jenkins already has a goal of 10 sacks for the fall, but that's not all.

"My goal is to fit better against the run, get my pad level down a little bit and just strike guys more than catching them," Jenkins said. "I'm trying fine-tune some of my pass rushing to get better and use my hands more than I have in the past. I just want to fine tune things so I can get as close to Jarvis (Jones) as possible."

Although he's just a sophomore, coaches are looking to Jenkins to be one of the leaders for the young Bulldog D.

So far, he likes what he's seen.

"My impression is just what I thought it would be in January. We've got young guys on defense swarming and making tackles, we've got guys hyped up, nobody's loafing and everybody's trying to make plays," he said. "Guys are hungry for it and when somebody goes down, we build that person back up. We're all getting after it."

Drew says he and Bailey will make a good team

Junior defensive end Ray Drew says he and Sterling Bailey will both be seeing a lot of time at right end for the Bulldogs next fall.

"I believe by the time the season rolls around, Sterling Bailey and myself will be sharing a good amount of playing time," Drew said. "Sterling is a heckuva player, so I believe talent-wise were right there together and we're both going to make an impact this season."

Bailey received most of the reps with the first team Tuesday, although Drew was credited with two sacks.

Drew also said that early enrollees John Atkins and Chris Mayes are making strides.

"Chris and John both have a lot of the same attributes, they're what you call country strong. I believe with a few more weeks in the system and getting the plays down, I believe they'll be very good players, especially with the size that they have and they bring up front," Drew said. "It's already hard to block those two because of their body mass and their size but once they get everything down, assignments and technique, they're going to have an awesome year."

Healthy, Conley ready to take that next step

Junior receiver Chris Conley has plenty of reason to smile.

"It's the first off-season I've had when I've been able to do everything," said Conley, whose last two preseasons have been hampered with various injuries. "The fact that I've been healthy has definitely elevated my game and allowed me to focus on the little things I need to work on."

When healthy, Conley has certainly shown what he's capable of, like he did in the Capital One Bowl win over Nebraska when he finished with 136 yards and two touchdowns against the Cornhuskers.

He's also being a leader off the field. It's a role he definitely enjoys.

"I do enjoy it because I can remember being where the young guys are not too long ago," he said. "I know what they're thinking, how they're feeling so it's kind of an honor to sit down with one of them, have a meeting with one of them, help them get through the rough weeks but also tell them not to make the same mistakes that I made."

Freshman running back J.J. Green is someone Conley has his eye on.

"He's done extremely well. He started out playing receiver with us but once we saw what he could do with the ball in his hands he started playing running back," Conley said. "He's a very hard-nosed, down-hill runner even though he's small. He runs the ball with authority. He runs like he's 6-1, 210 pounds. He makes a lot of plays for us and we're expecting him to make more because coaches are giving him more opportunities."

Wilson glad to focus on one spot

Being able to focus on one position has made life a lot easier for Ramik Wilson.

After splitting time between outside and inside linebacker, Wilson is situated firmly at Mike this spring, something he seems very grateful for.

"It helps me out a lot. I can just learn one position and keep going from there and not go double-duty, just focus on my time at Mike," Wilson said. "Coach sees something in me to have me play there."

But although the position requires him to set most of the defensive calls, Wilson laughed that he lets Amarlo Herrera do all the talking at Moe.

"I'm more of a silent leader because Amarlo does all the talking," he said. "I let him talk, I just help make the calls. I'm just about making plays and having that hungry fire."

Marshall's hamstring just fine

Running back Keith Marshall said his hamstring made it through Tuesday's scrimmage just fine.

"It felt good," Marshall said. "This was the first practice where I've been hit full speed, and it went all right. I was definitely a little rusty, but I think I did well."

Marshall missed Georgia's first four practices of the spring while recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered running track.

He finished Tuesday's scrimmage with 11 carries for 71 yards.

"I felt good about today, but I've got to watch the film and see what I need to work on," he said. "There were a couple of runs I wish I could have had back."

Because?

"You don't want to leave yards on the field and there were a couple of runs I think I could have picked up more," Marshall said. "Coach always says don't leave any yards on the field."