One of the good things about Georgia blowing out Appalachian State is the reserves got to see a significant amount of action.
One reserve who fans wanted to see is Hutson Mason, and he got to play all of the fourth quarter. Mason was solid, throwing for 160 yards, one touchdown and one interception. So fans got a good glimpse of what’s in store for the Bulldogs in 2014.
But can Mason really do what D.J. Shockley did in 2005 and win an SEC title in his first and only year as the full-time starter, or will it be more like what Joe Cox did in 2009 where he led the Bulldogs to a sub-par season?
Here are some realistic expectations for Mason in 2014.
Mason likes to throw the ball around, so to say that he can throw for 3,000 yards would not be far-fetched.
He should have Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and Justin Scott-Wesley back in the fold in 2014, so he will have a veteran group of receivers that will do whatever it takes to make plays for him.
The one thing Mason will have to watch for is the offensive line. Chris Burnette, Kenarious Gates and Dallas Lee will not be with the team next year, so Mason will have a new group of linemen to work with.
But as long as he can make good quick decisions in the pocket, the offensive line should keep Mason’s jersey clean all season.
And if Mason throws for 3,000 yards, it’s a safe bet he will throw at least 25 touchdown passes.
Not only will Mason have an experienced group of receivers, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will be back as well.
Those two will not only help Mason open up the pass with their running ability, but they also have the ability to catch the ball in the backfield.
So with those two, along with the receivers, Mason will have a ton of weapons to throw to. Also, with him watching how Aaron Murray spreads the ball around the last four seasons, he should have no issues doing the same thing.
If Mason is able to have a good year throwing the ball, then he should lead the Bulldogs to at least nine wins.
He will have a big test to start the season as the Bulldogs will host Clemson. That game will set the tone for the rest of the year.
Even if the Bulldogs were to lose that game, there is no reason they can't get to nine wins with Mason at the helm. He knows the offense too well to have the unit take two steps back. In fact, it would not be a surprise if they were to take three steps forward in terms of scoring and playing error-free football.
Even though 2014 will be Mason’s first season as the full-time starter, he should be looked at as the leader of the team.
He has been on the team just as long as Murray and he has the ability to come in and take over the offense if he needs to.
There will be other players that will be looked to as leaders, like Michael Bennett, Todd Gurley and Ray Drew. But because Mason is the quarterback, he has to be the one to put everyone in place and make sure that everyone has the same mindset each time they step onto the field.
Mason is walking into a difficult situation, but he’s also walking into an easy one. It’s difficult because Mason is replacing the most prolific quarterback in SEC history. But Mason has been ready for this since he came on campus four years ago and has looked solid in mop-up duty.
Will all the preparation lead to a successful 2014 season? Only time will tell, but based on the way Mason looked in the Appalachian State game on Saturday, fans should be excited for what’s in store for the Bulldogs next year.