- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- Hutson Mason knows he is in a unique position.
Georgia’s backup quarterback hopes to redshirt this season but knows if starter Aaron Murray gets hurt, it would become a judgment call between himself and coaches Mark Richt and Mike Bobo as to whether he should play -- particularly if an injury to Murray came midway through the fall or later.
In the meantime, he continues to share time with redshirt freshman Christian LeMay during preseason practice.
Mason shared his thoughts on that unusual situation and on other aspects of Georgia’s offense after Monday’s practice. Here is what he had to say:
On his redshirt plan: My redshirt is just a little different than most people that are redshirting. It’s not really a year off for me. Most likely I’ll be traveling. I’ve still got to be ready early in the season in case Murray gets hurt. So in the back of your mind, I’m hoping to get the redshirt, but it’s like you’re preparing like you might get the opportunity. So no, nothing really has changed at all.
On when the plan was conceived: I talked to Coach Richt in the spring and Bobo in the spring about it and that was the last time we’ve talked about it. But they just said they would offer to redshirt me, but they said they still want me to be ready early in the season in case Murray goes down.
On how they might proceed if the redshirt plan is still in place after camp: It really depends on when he gets hurt. I’d say I’ll probably sit down with Coach Richt and Coach Bobo after camp ends and probably discuss if we can get a feel. Because we’re not going to 100 percent find out what the right answer is. If we’re undefeated and Murray gets hurt and can’t play, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, maybe, to play in the SEC championship game or something like that. It’s just kind of something where we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but especially early on if he gets hurt, most likely I’ll probably be going in depending on how long he gets hurt for. But later in the season, we’ve got to figure out a deadline where it’s not really worth it.
On moving on after making the decision to stay at Georgia: Having that peace of mind, it’s easier to just go out and just play football and have all that garbage that was on my mind last year after the bowl game about transferring and stuff like that. I plan on being here for the rest of my career, so we’ll see how it works out.
On when they need to start giving LeMay more practice reps: I just think that the coaches -- just like me and Christian -- are in a difficult situation. Usually you know who the No. 2 guy is, and it’s set in stone, and he goes with the twos, and he gets his reps, but right now me and LeMay are both preparing to be the No. 2 guy. So those coaches are trying to get equal amount of reps to get both of us prepared.
On Georgia’s success with the no-huddle offense last season: I think we took the most snaps in the SEC last year by far. I think it was a huge amount, and I think that’s awesome, because I never thought I was going to come to Georgia and run the no-huddle. At Lassiter, we were five-wide all the time and Georgia being such a prolific offense, but I think it really has its advantages to defenses now. It’s not going to be as much of a surprise to everybody because everybody knows we ran it last year, but we added little nuances to it. But it’s difficult for a defense no matter how good a shape you’re in. When it’s 95 degrees out and you put a 10- or 12-play drive together with the no-huddle, you’ve got to be in pretty good shape to handle that -- and vice-versa with our offense. We’ve got to be in better shape than anybody else out there, so I definitely think it gives us an advantage.
On the pace of Georgia’s brand of no-huddle: We have different tempos that we can go. We can go just normal no-huddle which doesn’t allow defenses to change in and out. And we have what we can go is just give a right and left call, which kind of puts all the responsibility on the QB. And then we can go really, really fast where we know the play and we know everything and right when the ball is set we can say, ‘Set-hut,’ and we’ve got so many of those plays, we can run it all the way down the field. So we have several different tempos that we can use.
On how Georgia will use the tight ends this fall: Georgia’s kind of changed tight ends. The type of guys that we’ve had in the past couple of years, you think of Orson [Charles] and Jay [Rome] and even Ty [Smith] -- smaller-body-type guys, but extremely athletic -- which I think fits our offense really well now. When we go four- and five-wide and no-huddle, we can throw balls out there and let them make a move. Where if we have big-body tight ends like Artie [Lynch], he’s great for blocking and goal line and stuff like that. So it’s always good to have your mix of tight ends, and I think that’s what we have this year. We have Artie, who’s a huge kid, he’s powerful, he’s got good hands. But then we have Jay, who is a mismatch versus DBs just because he’s so big and athletic, just like Orson.
On freshman tailbacks Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley: Oh man, they’re outstanding. Those two guys have got their head on their shoulders and I think they’ve got a bright future. I don’t think they’ll be one-and-done for any reason. You can just tell by a kid’s demeanor if he’s got his head on his shoulders, and Keith’s just a really smart kid and Todd is really quiet, kind of sticks to himself, but I think that’s what we need in the backfield now after everything we’ve gone through.
On tailback being a high-profile position for a freshman to play: I don’t think they really know how big they’re going to become until the fall hits. They’re going to play this year. What kind of impact they have, no one knows yet. But as long as they stay healthy, I expect them to have a big impact because they’ve got to play. And you know once you start playing for Georgia, you become a household name and people start recognizing you. I expect those two kids to keep their head on their shoulders, because you can just tell they’ve been raised right, and they’re different than most guys that we’ve had around here at that position.