A few weeks ago I discussed the backup quarterbacks in Athens and mentioned that occasional DudeYouCrazy Contributor Andy Crawford disagrees with me regarding Hutson Mason. Here is Andy’s response. Frankly: it’s good. As a challenge to the readers, if you ever send me any article that is this good I will post it and give you the credit. Seriously. Good stuff. Jump in:
A couple weeks back Andrew went DudeCrazy (Dude’s note: there’s a distinct difference between “DudeYouCrazy” and “DudeCrazy”. I trust that you can deduce the discrepancy.) for Hutson Mason, while invoking my name as one of the (I suspect) thousands of UGA fans who don’t feel warm and fuzzy at the idea of Hutson Mason taking the reins if Aaron Murray should choose to forgo his senior season. Andrew made it clear he thinks Hutson Mason is a quarterback who will follow in the tradition of Greene, Shockley, Stafford, and Murray, (Dude’s note: These are some my exact words – Does it mean that Hutson Mason is going to be great? Certainly not. But I think it goes a long way in proving that Hutson Mason is – at the very minimum – capable of playing quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs, even in a starting capacity. Andy just makes things up like a lawyer!) and he summed up my opinion as: “To hear Andy speak…Hutson Mason played eight-on-eight flag football with such poor proficiency that no school other than the University of Georgia expressed any interest.”
To be clear, I like Hutson Mason. I think he is an adequate backup. He did, however, rub me the wrong way when he considered transferring to get more playing time Dude’s note: I feel that). What did he think was going to happen if he came to UGA? Did he think he was going to beat out Aaron Murray and start for one of the top programs in the country? If he wanted playing time he should have jumped on one of the plethora of directional schools that offered him a scholarship in high school.
Andrew seems to think Mason deserves more regard though. He thinks if Mason was named the starting quarterback UGA would instantly catapult to number 1 in the AP (Dude’s note: I wish!), Jarvis would stay for his senior year (Dude’s note: I wish!), and Georgia would finally claim a BCS trophy to put in Butts-Mehre next to Hershcel, Sinkwich and Mason’s Heisman trophies (Dude’s note: I wish!).
Andrew’s argument for Mason as some kind of second coming of Johnny Moxon (Dude’s note: I just watched that movie!) can be broken into three parts: 1) He was a stellar high school quarterback; 2) Mason has played well as a backup; 3) he is at least as good as Joe Cox. Let me dismantle these one at a time.
But first, let me outline how I group Georgia starting quarterbacks in the Mark Richt era. They divide into three tiers: Tier 1- Greene, Shockley, Stafford, Murray- These are the special quarterbacks. They are usually highly touted out of high school, and have apparent talent. With the exception of Shockley, they take over as the starter early in their career. They have a high ceiling, and can be counted among the elite in the nation. Tier 2- Joe Cox- Good, but not great. The most Georgia could hope for with this quarterback is a 9 win season; ten if the defense and running game compensate for average QB play (which Cox definitely did not have). He knows the offense inside and out, which somewhat compensates for a lack of talent. Tier 3- Tereshinski- While he knows the offense, he has a low ceiling for which his acumen cannot compensate. He is probably better suited to start for a Sun Belt team. He will be supplanted as soon as a younger quarterback is healthy and knows enough of the offense.
Mason in High School
Hutson Mason is lucky to have a shot at starting for UGA Let’s go back to December 2009. Joe Cox is leading UGA to a ho-hum 8-5 season. Washaun Ealey and Caleb King have just coined the phrase, “We Run This State.” And UGA was preparing for an Independence Bowl against Texas A&M, which would help A.J. Green make an easy $1,000 in a few months (Dude’s note: STILL too soon – one of my first ever articles addressed this issue).
Georgia was closing up one of its smaller, and at the time, less impressive recruiting classes. Staring down the New Year the Dawgs had scholarships to burn. The previous year’s recruiting class brought in Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, two Elite 11 QBs, who had entrenched themselves as the number 1 and number 2 QBs for years to come. After Cox graduated the only other QB on the roster would be Logan Gray, who wanted to move to wide receiver.
Hutson Mason was offered a scholarship by UGA in December 2009 after a loss in the Georgia HS playoffs (where he threw 0 tds, and 5 ints). As Andrew points out, he put up impressive numbers that season (4560 yds, 54 tds, 10 ints), however, it is important to keep these statistics in perspective. Mason was a system QB. He wasn’t always standing in the pocket, reading defenses, and firing downfield. The offense was largely built on short, quick passes. He played in a spread offense, throwing
the ball 434(!!!) times his senior season. That is more than UGA has thrown the ball in any season, well, ever. So those numbers are skewed. His success in that offense means about as much as Graham Harrell’s success at Texas Tech meant to his NFL career (nothing). All those numbers show is that he can throw all the bubble screens you could ever want. This doesn’t make him a bad prospect, but it doesn’t automatically make him a good one either. (Dude’s note: Keep in mind, Andy is saying that because Mason threw the ball a lot in a “system” his high school performance should be discredited.)
By December 9th, when Chip Towers reported that Georgia offered Mason, the Lassiter QB had received scholarship offers from Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Virginia, and Mississippi State. Florida State (a school who hasn’t exactly been known for their quarterbacks in recent years) offered right after UGA. Mason made the easy choice and almost immediately committed to UGA, the first elite program to make an offer.
Georgia decided to offer an average in-state recruit to add some depth for the coming years. He was never meant to be the next Tier 1 guy. He was meant to be, at most, a one year Cox/Tereshinski type stop gap between the Murray/Mettenberger era and the “the next guy” era.
While Mettenberger’s libido took him out of the picture (Dude’s note: I’m so glad there weren’t pictures of his libido taking him out of the picture. Am I right?), Mason has continued to fill the backup/possible stop gap role for Murray ever since. The only way Mason would ever start would be if Murray got injured or left before the next Tier 1 QB was ready.
We have no idea how good (or bad) Hutson Mason is
Andrew points out that Hutson has put together solid, albeit limited, numbers at UGA. His career numbers are as follows: 27-47, 356yds, 3tds, 0 ints. Andrew adds the following: “But, ‘that passing has been intermittent,’ you say. Yes, but does that necessarily discredit his performance? Probably not.”
Yes. Yes it does. Mason has never played any meaningful football at the college level. He’s played proficiently during mop up duty (Idaho State, Vanderbilt, Coastal Carolina, etc). His career stats read like the stat line for a single pass happy game against a cupcake opponent.
Andrew mentions that Mason’s career QB rating (142.13) would be 40th in the country this year. What he forgets to mention is that QB rating is only an accurate statistic if the quarterback has an adequate sample of passes to evaluate. In order to even qualify to be listed for a QB rating on ESPN’s stats, the player must average 14 pass attempts per game. Obviously, Mason falls far short of that threshold, and his QB rating is rendered meaningless. It is just as likely to be statistical noise as it is an accurate representation of what he could do on the field against quality opponents on a consistent basis.
All we know about Mason is what we knew when he was a freshman fielding offers from mid-major schools. As Scout.com noted in 2009, he’s a smart and accurate passer who is hampered with weak arm strength and field vision. (That sounds eerily like Joe Cox, does it not? More on that in a bit.) I think I speak for most Dawg fans when I say I’m not looking forward to another noodle-armed quarterback leading us to an 8 win season- and this time AJ Green isn’t there to make him look good.
Mike Bobo and Mark Richt develop college quarterbacks better than anyone in college football. They can coach any hardworking quarterback into a proficient field general. But all the coaching in the world can’t give Mason a stronger arm or any of the golden boy talent that was so apparent in Stafford and Murray as soon as they arrived on campus.
Andrew’s right about one thing- Hutson Mason is probably as good as Joe Cox (Dude’s note: I am right about everything, but not all at once.)We don’t have much by which to compare them yet, but my gut tells me Cox and Mason are pretty similar. Both went to stellar high school programs (Independence and Lassiter, respectively), both have been career backups behind stellar starting quarterbacks, and both have similar size and speed. Cox had better college offers, but they were from mediocre schools such as Maryland, Duke, and UNC. It’s also interesting to point out that they both wear #14, and each threw their first touchdown on a post route in the east endzone (Mason to Gray against ULL, and Cox to Milner against Colorado) (Dude’s note: Andy Crawgord is dropping knowledge right now!).
And let’s assume that Andrew is right, and that Mason’s QB rating is an accurate representation of what he can do. Mason would be 40th in QB rating this year, close to Cox, who finished 42nd in QB rating in 2009.
Just to be clear, I liked Joe Cox. He played his heart out for the Dawgs, and, as most people forget, won a quarterback duel against Ryan Mallet (with some help from A.J., of course). He was an adequate stop gap quarterback.
I also like Hutson Mason. As I mentioned above, he struck me as delusional and entitled when he considered transferring to get more playing time. I guess I can’t blame the guy too much for wanting to play though, and he has been a dependable backup. And make no mistake about it, he is the ONLY backup QB I would feel comfortable taking meaningful snaps if Aaron “Murr-Man” Murray were to get injured. But I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I would rather not have to deal with a one year steward (Dude’s note: I agree!), simply managing the offense until a high caliber quarterback is ready. I would like to seamlessly go from one Tier 1 quarterback to another.
My hope is that Murray stays for his senior year to shatter some records and make another SEC Championship run, allowing Brice Ramsey a year to learn the system and take over as a redshirt freshman. That would allow a seamless transition from Murray to Ramsey, who by most accounts, is the real deal (Dude’s note: Keep in mind Ramsey hardly ever threw in high school! Mason was discredited for throwing too much (434 passes as a senior), but the guy with 289 career pass attempts gets a pass?)
Once again, go back to 2009. Wasn’t it kind of a lost year? (Dude’s note: I wrote about this way back in October of 2010, but I think 2009 would have been a disappointment even if Stafford was still around. Tennessee, Florida and Kentucky scored 45, 41 and 34 points respectively against the Dawgs that year.) Didn’t it feel like UGA was in a holding pattern waiting on “the next guy”? I don’t want another lost year, if it can be helped. And with Mason, I think that’s exactly what we would get.
– Andy Crawford, J.D.
Again, thanks Andy!
That’s all I got/
Aaron Murray has been on a whirl-wind Southeastern conquering tour over the past few days. After throwing for a career-high 427 yards and five touchdowns (and two interceptions) against Nebraska en route to winning the Capital One Bowl MVP Trophy and wishing DadYouCrazy a happy birthday (see below), Murray headed to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. Last night he made a prominent appearance on College Gameday where he played the role of analyst with a style and poise that David Pollack is yet to master. On the set he broke down Florida’s defense, the National Championship game and his Draft decision, saying that the NFL Draft committee graded him out as a second or third round prospect.
Murray has been a leader on the team and a media favorite for several years, so his partaking in extracurricular media opportunities isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary. Nonetheless, one can’t help but wonder if he might just stay on the road for the next few months as he prepares for the NFL Draft, rather than stay in Athens, GA. But in between the Capital One Bowl and birthday wishes and the appearance at the Sugar Bowl for College Gameday, something happened. Or, perhaps I should say someone happened.
Aaron Murray spent the day with Archie Manning in New Orleans. At 3:08 PM Murray took to Twitter to and offered the following:
Josh and I got to hang with Archie Manning all afternoon. Great guy!
I don’t know what Aaron and Josh (his older brother, who played professional baseball before joining his baby bro on the UGA football squad in 2010) did with Archie Manning, but I’m sure it was something worthwhile. And I don’t know what Archie might have said to Aaron during the day – but I’m pretty confident he didn’t insist that Murray leave Georgia early.
Archie Manning was one of the most decorated quarterbacks in SEC history until his son came along and he was re-assigned to “Peyton’s Dad” status. Archie was drafted in the first round of the 1971 NFL Draft with the second overall pick. Peyton Manning flirted with leaving Tennessee after his junior year before ultimately sticking around for a fourth year and becoming the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. Then Eli Manning showed up in Oxford, MS; he stayed there for four years. He was drafted first overall.
I’m not pretending to know what Aaron and Archie talked about. I’m certainly not trying to put words in Manning’s mouth and I’m not claiming to understand the type of decision Murray is wrestling with. But I think I’d like him to hang around the Manning family a little more often. Because those guys hung around their college campuses for a while, and I hope Murray does the same.
That’s all I got/
I’m about to begin the trek home and will have a full recap of the Capital One Bowl up tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest. In the mean time here is some footage I captured yesterday following the game. Enjoy.
Georgia players celebrate as Geno Smith begins to frantically look for the hats and t-shirts.
Aaron Murray high-fives the crowd on his way out of the stadium.
Jarvis Jones explains Alec Olgetree’s big play during the post-game press conference.
Aaron Murray talks about Georgia’s high-powered offense.
Mark Richt discusses the future of Georgia football.
Is this the end of an era? Mark Richt, Aaron Murray and Jarvis Jones leave the Bulldogs’ final press conference of the season.
That’s all I got/
Aaron Murray could have a big day tomorrow. A very big day. Here are some Georgia records he can chase and the likelihood that he’ll catch (or, should I say, pass…) them:
- Completions in a Season: The all-time mark belongs to Mike Bobo at 269. Murray is sitting at 231 and likely won’t throw enough passes to match that total (that would be an oddity), but he should pass his own mark of 238 which ranks fourth in school history.
- Murray is cemented as third in the all-time record book in career completions. He’s need 80 or so to pass Eric Zeier, so I’m thinking he’ll stay third.
- Aaron Murray has a very realistic pass of setting the Georgia record for passing yards in a game (of course he was aided by an extra outing in the SECCG). Currently he has thrown for 3,466 yards and the record sits at 3,525. I’d expect that to topple in the first half.
- Less likely to fall: David Green and Eric Zeier’s spots atop the career passing list. I don’t see Murray throwing for 1500-2000 yards – even against Nebraska.
- The Murr-man has connected on 65.439% of his passes this season, which is a single-season Georgia record – if it holds. He can’t drop much though, as Honey Bobo Child is the current leader at 65.03%.
- His 61.748 career completion percentage also ranks first, but I’m hoping he has another year to build on that.
- Four touchdown passes by Murray tomorrow would tie his own single-season record of 35. He has thrown four or more TD passes seven times during his career.
- Murray has already smashed the Georgia career TD mark of 72 – he’s sitting at 90.
- Barring a disaster of a game, Murray will finish with the best single-season passer rating in Georgia history. His 172.4 pace is comfortably ahead of the school’s record set by Mike Bobo in 1997 (155.80). In fact, Murray’s career rating of 157.27 is better than any individual season in Georgia history. That’s beyond impressive.
A few odds and ends:
It should be noted that if Murray can pass the 3,525 mark he would hold the Georgia records for passing yards by a freshman, passing yards by a sophomore and passing yards by a junior.
Again, if Aaron Murray were to return for his senior year he’d be a lock to shatter all of these records.
Murray only needs to throw 25 touchdown passes in the Capital One Bowl to set the SEC All-Time Career record. If he can’t do that, he has to come back.
That’s all I got/
We all know how explosive the Georgia offense could be in 2013 if Aaron Murray sticks around (and for some reason I am growing increasingly confident that he will – again, for some reason). If the signal-caller returns he’ll likely be behind the same starting offensive line as this year (Kentarious Gates, Dallas Lee, and Chris Burnette are all Juniors, David Andrews is a Sophomore and John Theus is a freshman). And, those guys will be backed up by essentially the same platoon (Austin Long is a Junior while Watts Dantzler and Mark Beard are both Sophomores). He’ll have Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall and Ken Malcome back to hand the ball to (although Malcome has seemed frustrated at times and could meander elsewhere).
Alexander Ogletree and Merritt Hall will both be back at fullback. He’ll lose Marlon Brown (who’s sadly already been gone due to injury) and Tavarres King, but still have leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell (a sophomore), seasoned veteran Rantavious Wooten (redshirt junior) and a talented group of young guys lead by Michael Bennett (Sophomore), Chris Conley (Sophomore) and Justin Scott-Wesley (Freshman).
The offense shouldn’t skip a beat, and if the receivers can continue to develop and tight-ends Arthur Lynch (Junior) and Jay Rome (Freshman) can elevate their game the Bulldogs might actually be better on offense in 2013 than they were in 2012. If, of course, Aaron Murray comes back.
But could the Georgia Bulldogs –as a whole – be better in 2013? Yes they could. It’s hard to picture the Special Teams being any worse (I know that sounds harsh, but methodically, where does Georgia get worse?). Collin Barber punted well as a freshman – 41.6 yards per punt average – and improved during the year (he averaged 39.38 yards per kick in his first 8 games, 45.7 in his last five). Should I anticipate him giving up field position? Marshall Morgan was terrible this year (missed four extra points, only 3/6 on kicks between 30 and 49 yards). Can he be worse and keep his job in 2013? I doubt it. And, I don’t foresee the return game or the coverage game changing dramatically in either direction.
The big question mark will be the defense, and if Murray remains in Athens the defense will be the primary concern all offseason. With Cornelius Washington, John Jenkins, Sanders Commings, Shawn Williams, Bacarri Rambo and Branden Smith all graduating and heading to the NFL along with (most likely) Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and (possibly) Kwame Geathers, there’s going to be a shakeup for Grantham’s defense. Michael Gilliard and Christian Robinson will also be going (with doubtful NFL futures). Everybody seems to be going, and I probably left somebody out!
But, this defense drastically underperformed expectations in 2012. This defense allowed Missouri, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky and Alabama to out-gain their per-game total yardage averages. This defense allowed an average in excess of 353 yards per game against FBS opponents. This highly-touted defense held only three opponents – Florida, Ole Miss and Auburn – to under 300 yards while allowing three schools to go over 400 yards – Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Alabama.
I don’t know that a change in personnel is necessarily a terrible thing for Georgia’s defense. Todd Grantham had tremendous talent this season and that talent underperformed by just about every standard – even the standard set by themselves – for most of the season. He has a lot of young, hungry talent waiting to take over. I don’t know that this new, young talent will be a huge drop-off from the NFL-heavy 2012 roster in actual production.
I’ll preview the 2013 season at length over the coming months, but while everyone is still thinking about football and before we enter the dark, depressing post-season period in which a “preview” article seems entirely too premature, I thought I’d share this thought. Georgia could very easily be better in 2013. If Aaron Murray stays.
That’s all I got/