The Gator Bowl is right around the corner and the Georgia Bulldogs are looking to get their second straight win over Nebraska.
And in order for them to do that, they will need Hutson Mason to have a big day under center.
Mason played well against Georgia Tech and with a month to prepare with the first-team offense, he should improve. However, he is going against a Nebraska defense that while is not the unit what it was back in the '90s, it can still make plays, especially in the secondary.
Here are four ways Mason can take advantage of the Blackshirts.
The first thing Mason needs to do is to give the ball to his running backs as much as he can.
The Cornhuskers only give up a shade over 200 yards per game through the air. But when it comes to the run game, Nebraska gives up 161 yards per game and 21 rushing touchdowns.
Todd Gurley ran for 125 yards on 23 carries against the Cornhuskers last year, and with a month to rest his ankle, there is no reason he can’t do it again.
But even if Gurley could not play, Brendan Douglas and J.J. Green proved they can carry the load if needed. Green has the speed to break away from the Blackshirts and Douglas has the strength to run over them.
In order for the Bulldogs to run the ball as well as protecting Mason, they need to attack defensive end Randy Gregory as much as possible.
Gregory finished the season with 9.5 sacks, which led the Big Ten. He had at least one sack in five consecutive games and his best performance was against Michigan where he posted three sacks.
With Georgia’s offensive line being up-and-down all year, it has to make sure it doesn't let Gregory run wild on New Year’s Day. It needs to attack him by using pulling tackles and double-teams.
Two other players Mason needs to watch are cornerbacks Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Both players each have four interceptions and a combined 16 pass breakups.
So what Mason has to do is attack inside and not outside. If he can get his receivers to play away from the corners and get them working with the safeties, Mason should find some success.
And if that happens, he will have a chance to take a shot down field once in a while.
But the most important thing Mason can do is the same thing he did against Georgia Tech and that’s be patient.
Mason does not need to worry about making a big play on every snap. If he will take what the defense gives him, his playmakers will do the rest.
The Cornhuskers will be motivated to go out there and jump on the Bulldogs early and often, especially on defense, as they got ran over last year. Mason just needs to weather the storm at the start of the game because emotions will be running high. If he does that, he will have a great New Year’s Day.
Mason will not have a cakewalk against the Blackshirts. The defensive unit knows how to make plays through the air and they were a big reason why the team went 8-4.
But Mason showed in he can fight through adversity and utilize all his pieces in order to win.
With this game being an outlook to the 2014 season, it’s almost vital for Mason to play well in all phases of his game. He already did it once against Georgia Tech. Can he do it again against a more aggressive defense?