Fifth-year senior Hutson Mason’s opportunity finally to run the show at Georgia came a little earlier than expected, as Mason was inserted in the 11th game last season after Aaron Murray was lost with a knee injury. Mason rallied the Bulldogs from a 20-0 deficit to a 41-34 double-overtime win at Georgia Tech, and he almost delivered a Gator Bowl comeback over Nebraska but was plagued by dropped passes.
Mason does not have the scrambling ability of Murray and doesn’t throw quite as hard, but he loves operating a quick tempo. Redshirt sophomore Faton Bauta and redshirt freshman Brice Ramsey are so close in the competition for the No. 2 spot that coach Mark Richt said it might be a week-to-week decision all season.
Junior tailback Todd Gurley had 1,502 rushing and receiving yards in 2012, and he had 1,430 last season despite missing three games and portions of three others. Gurley became a pass-catching weapon a year ago and, if healthy, could easily live up to projections of being the SEC’s top Heisman Trophy candidate.
Fellow junior Keith Marshall is returning from an ACL injury, and the Bulldogs will be introducing two more top-50 national prospects with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Getting overlooked right now is sophomore Brendan Douglas, who rushed for 345 yards a year ago, while redshirt freshman A.J. Turman is behind due to injury.
The Bulldogs do not lack for veterans with fifth-year senior Michael Bennett, senior Chris Conley and redshirt juniors Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley. Mitchell and Scott-Wesley are the top two deep threats and are coming off knee surgeries, so they may not be available in the early going, which would leave sophomore Reggie Davis as the top speedster.
Senior Jonathon Rumph is hoping to produce after failing to contribute much in his first year out of junior college, and the tight end position has been hampered by Jay Rome’s slow recovery from a foot injury. Redshirt freshman Jordan Davis and freshman Jeb Blazevich could get early playing time, as could junior Quayvon Hicks, who was the starting fullback a year ago.
Georgia spent all spring trying to “find the best five” up front and has continued that practice this month. Senior David Andrews provides great stability at center, and it appears that junior John Theus may at last be developing into that quality left tackle. Kolton Houston is the likely right tackle with Greg Pyke and Brandon Kublanow as the starting guards, but that could change.
Senior Mark Beard was the left tackle at G-Day and is expected to provide relief for Theus, or Beard’s entrance could shift Theus to right tackle and Houston to left guard. Senior Watts Dantzler from Dalton has cross-trained throughout his career and is eager to contribute, while guard Isaiah Wynn has been impressive as a freshman.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...