THE MONDAY REWIND
Sorry that I’m getting this out later than usual today. Monday is technically an off day for me (never really is this time of year) and I had some domestic duties. But anyway, here ya go. …
1. Nick Chubb got a lot of credit for lifting Georgia to victory against Missouri and deservedly so. After all, he was the one stepping up in the absence of Todd Gurley and had 174 yards and a touchdown on 42 touches (including 38 rushing attempts) in the 34-0 victory.
But this past Saturday also represented Hutson Mason’s finest hour as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback. And that’s not just because he completed 22-of-28 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. No, Mason’s most valuable contribution came in an intangible form and, mostly notably, before the game was even played.
Georgia has a pregame tradition that has been in place since Mark Richt arrived as head coach. After the team is suited up and about to the take the field, the Bulldogs – players only, no coaches or administrators – circle up in the shower of whatever locker room they’re in and, with the lights off, talk, say a prayer and one leader or another might share some words about that day’s game.
It was in that forum, we’re told, that Mason “went off.”
In an impassioned speech the likes of which nobody had heard from him this season, the fifth-year senior shouted to his teammates that he was “tired of the all the negativity and doubt” surrounding the program, that Georgia is “not a one-man team,” that there were “10 other offensive players and 11 on defense and 11 on special teams” that have been getting it done all season and they were going to out and “get it done today.”
“I didn’t sit on the bench at Georgia for four years to come out and lose my senior year,” Mason cried. “And we’re not going to lose today.”
2. There was an edge about Mason’s play during the game as well. He actually ran the ball more than ever in his career, “pulling the ball” on Georgia’s zone-read play several times – including on an 11-yard touchdown run — and tucking and running for first downs twice on pass plays. His 14-yard pass to Michael Bennett on a deep out to the back, right corner of the end zone was as fine a throw as you’ll ever see.
“I don’t know what it says,” Mason said after the game. “I’ll just let (the media) talk about that. I’m just proud of my guys. It was very emotional before the game. We had a chip on our shoulders. Everyone counted us out, including (the media), including our fans.”
3. One of the underplayed storylines of the Missouri game was the return of Brendan Langley to the starting lineup on defense. The sophomore from Kennesaw started the first four games of his freshman season at cornerback but was abruptly moved to offense AFTER spring practice last May.
Langley hadn’t been able to work his way into the lineup as a receiver and was quietly moved back to defense the week of the Vanderbilt game. After getting in for a couple of plays against the Commodores, Langley started at left cornerback against Missouri and played most of the game. He finished with three tackles and a tackle for loss as the Bulldogs recorded four interceptions, their most since the 2008 Sugar Bowl win over Hawaii.
Langley could have had an “I told you so” attitude, but that’s not what he displayed after Saturday’s game.
“It was just a mutual thing between me and the coaches,” Langley said of moving back to defense. “I really didn’t think anything of it. They just called my number and I knew I had an opportunity to go make plays and I did. I needed to progress and make plays during the week and I did. I guess I did well.”
Langley said he didn’t find out until Friday afternoon that Jeremy Pruitt intended to start him at left cornerback.
“I just thought, ‘it’s my time to go out there and show everybody what I can do,’” he said. “I just went out and played my game and tried to make plays. The opportunity was presented to me and I felt like I took advantage of it. I guess I did all right. Not too bad for my first time back.”
“You know what, he did a nice job considering he hadn’t gotten an awful lot of work,” Richt said. “The switch happened relatively quick and, before you know it, he’s out there starting. Overall he did a nice job. There were definitely some mistakes he made that have to get cleaned up. But I don’t think we could have expected him to have no missed assignments at all.”
4. Speaking of Brendans, Georgia’s other one had a pretty doggone good game as well. Sophomore tailback Brendan Douglas had 65 yards on 13 carries against the Tigers. Of course, his somersaulting leap into the end zone at the end of the 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was a SportsCenter highlight delight and a play that will live on for years in UGA annals.
It led to one of the best calls so far in Scott Howard’s career as Georgia’s play-by-play man: “Give him 10 for the flip and 6 for the score!”
5. And finally, if you haven’t had a chance to join the “Free Gurley” movement, there’s still time. An official petition has been created on the White House website asking for President Obama to “pardon Todd Gurley for any possible wrongdoings and (order) the NCAA and UGA to cancel any investigations.”
The petition, which requires 100,000 authenticated signatures, was closing in on 10,000 late Monday afternoon. The petition remains open until Nov. 8th, but I’m thinking fans — and the Bulldogs — would hope to have a resolution before then.