LINCOLN — Aaron Murray’s record-breaking career was good for just about everybody involved with Georgia football but Hutson Mason.
Mason appeared in just eight games his first two seasons as the backup quarterback in Athens, redshirted a year ago and twice considered transferring. The junior then was seeing minimal time again this fall.
That all changed Nov. 23 when Murray suffered a season-ending knee injury and Mason was left to finally run the Bulldogs’ offense.
“Hutson has been preparing a long time for this opportunity, and we think he’s ready to play well,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday night. “We know he’s going to make mistakes along the way being a first-time starter, but he’s been working for this moment, as have a few other guys that have gotten a chance to play because of some injuries.”
Mason’s next challenge comes when Georgia meets Nebraska in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, exactly one year after Murray was the MVP of the Capital One Bowl with 427 yards passing and five touchdowns in a 45-31 win over the Huskers.
It will be only the second career start for Mason, who came to the Bulldogs as the 2009 Georgia Gatorade player of the year and a Parade All-American out of Lassiter High in Marietta.
Mason went the distance in a two-overtime, 41-34 win at Georgia Tech on Nov. 30 in which the Bulldogs fell behind 20-0. The 6-foot-3, 202-pounder completed 22 of 36 passes for 299 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception.
“This is what it’s about,” Mason told reporters after that game. “I mean, every time when I was thinking about leaving, when I was thinking about transferring, and I was sitting in Coach Richt’s office, and just being here for four years. This is the game, these types of games are the kind you dream about being a part of.”
Mason first stepped in for Murray on Nov. 23 against Kentucky when the SEC’s only four-time 3,000-yard passer tore his left ACL in the second quarter. Mason went 13 of 19 for 189 yards, throwing a 24-yard TD pass to Todd Gurley for a 35-10 lead just before halftime and adding a 1-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
“Hutson is a guy that has been with our program for quite some time now,” Richt said. “He’s been practicing a lot. We think that Hutson is going to be a heck of a player, and it was good to get him a little experience against Georgia Tech.”