August 6, 2012

Mason stays focused



Yes, in a perfect world, backup quarterback Hutson Mason will redshirt this fall.

As long as starter Aaron Murray doesn't get hurt, that will be the case.

But after the Bulldogs wrapped up their first day in full pads Monday morning, Mason said he's still preparing like he'll be on the field.

"It's not really a year off for me. Most likely, I'll be traveling and I still have to prepare in case Murray gets hurt," Mason said. "In the back of my mind, I'm hoping to get the redshirt, but at the same time I'm preparing like I might get the opportunity."

So is redshirt freshman Christian LeMay.

"What I've been told is to keep working hard and do what I've been doing," LeMay said. "Either way, nothing is going to how I've been working every day and try to get better. You can't better others without bettering yourself so when I do get out there I can lead the team."

Mason said he has not spoken to head coach Mark Richt or offensive coordinator Mike Bobo any more about his situation since the end of spring practice.

Neither LeMay nor Mason said they've been given any specifics on what might happen should Murray go down for an extending time.

"It just depends on when he gets hurt, I think," Mason said. "I'll probably sit down with Coach Richt and Coach Bobo after camp to see if we can get a feel. I know we're not going to get a right answer, 100 percent, because if we're undefeated and Murray gets hurt and can't play, then that's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play in the SEC Championship. It's just something where we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but if it's early most likely I'll be going in, but later in the season I guess we'd have to come up with a deadline to determine when it's not really worth it."

First full day in pads results in injuries

Monday's first day in full pads did not come without a cost.

After practice, it was revealed that backup safety Marc Deas suffered a right hamstring sprain, defensive end Ray Drew a concussion and defensive end Abry Jones a left knee contusion.

Although Deas is listed as day-to-day, it was not revealed how long Jones and Drew will have to be out.

Also, it was revealed that walk-on tight end Hugh Williams suffered a 3rd metacarpal fracture on his left hand and will be out for 10-14 days after undergoing outpatient surgery Monday at St. Mary's Hospital.

The team also revealed that both starting offensive guard Chris Burnette and walk-on receiver C.J. Wyatt missed practice with an undisclosed illness. Burnette is expected back on Tuesday with Wyatt back on Wednesday.

Monday's announcements were part of a new policy by Georgia, where head trainer Ron Courson will release a daily injury report to the media following each practice session.

So far, so good for Dawgs

Although Georgia is just five days into preseason drills, Richt opted to give a "state of the team" address following the Bulldogs' first practice in full pads.

"My impression of the team is I've got no complaints to this point about their effort. I think their effort has been outstanding," he said. "I think we need to become more disciplined in the penalty area, although we have made improvements. I think we're doing a good job of coaching and disciplining that."

Ball security and special teams continue to be a daily point of emphasis as well.

"There have been very few balls that have been fumbled by a back, a wide receiver or a tight end. I can't even think of one right now, although there have been fumbles on the QB-center exchange, which isn't good," he said. "We've had some interceptions. You can hardly go through a day of practice without somebody making a play on defense.
"We still have too many missed assignments, that's another thing that can get you beat, but our effort on special teams so far has been outstanding. I see a lot of guys who are eager and we're becoming as good as we can possibly be in that area."

The Bulldogs used Monday's first session in full pads to get their first full contact of the preseason.

"We did tackle to the ground for the first time a little bit. Our three-on-three drills, the offense won 5-4 in what was really great competition in that regard," Richt said. "It came down to the last drill and Richard Samuel came through with a great physical run to finish strong, scored a touchdown by maybe a foot or so to win the drill."

Samuel will continue to split time

Speaking of Samuel, Richt said the senior will continue to get 50-50 reps between fullback and tailback.

"I sat down with him and we talked just the other day to tell him what we were thinking and just to help him understand," Richt said. "What I told him was 'you've got to know both because we're going to need you at either spot."

Richt added he's got no doubt Samuel has the ability to play both positions well.

"I told him continuing to get reps at tailback would not keep him from being our starting fullback," Richt said. "But the other beauty of him playing those two positions is he's in the meeting room with the fullbacks and tailbacks, so anytime he's coaching the fullbacks he can be listening to that and anytime he's in the room with the tailbacks. He's smart enough and he knows the offense so he can do both."

Special teams a big focus

Special teams continue to be a daily focus at practice, but on Tuesday - the first scheduled two-a-day - it will get a session all to itself.

That includes coaches taking a closer look at freshman kicker Marshall Morgan and punter Collin Barber.

"Colin as a freshman from what I've seen - is what I thought he was. He's got a knack for getting tremendous hang-time, and of course he can kick it for distance as well," Richt said. "Even his kicks that aren't just right he gets plenty of hang-time so the gunners can get underneath it, which I like a lot."

Morgan has also impressed.

"Morgan is what I thought, too, in that the ball gets up very quickly, Richt said. "He doesn't have to give a lot of effort to get the short to mid-range kicks. He's been very accurate so far."

This and that

Richt said freshman receiver Blake Tibbs is starting to turn some heads. "From what I've seen from him, he is a very smooth athlete, a very smooth route runner - a natural," Richt said. "I told him when we had our meeting that I think you can help us this year, but it's going to be up to you. You've got know what to do as far as knowing the offense and ball security." … Richt said former UAB commitment Kenny Towns isn't quite ready to make an impact at wide receiver yet with the Bulldogs. But he's glad he's on the team. "Kenny is not ready to jump in and play right now from a knowledge standpoint," Richt said. "But I think we did very well with him." A freshman, Towns originally committed to UAB but had his scholarship pulled after the Blazers changed head coaches. … Count Murray among those who have been amazed by the performance of Allison Smith, fellow UGA student and gold medal Olympian. "I had a class with her when I graduated mid-year," Murray said. "I'm so proud of her and great seeing her do what she did. But when she gets back, she'll be a normal student, going to Rankin … going to study hall. She's a good girl."