Q&A: Mason says fans need to stick with the Bulldogs

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason attempted a season-high 42 passes this past Saturday against Florida and completed 26 of them for 319 yards and a touchdown. But he was disappointed in the offense's play in the 38-20 loss to the Gators. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason attempted a season-high 42 passes this past Saturday against Florida and completed 26 of them for 319 yards and a touchdown. But he was disappointed in the offense’s play in the 38-20 loss to the Gators. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS — Hutson Mason knows it’s out there. But he’s not listening to it. In fact, he’s going out of his way to avoid it.

Georgia’s starting quarterback says he knows the Bulldogs’ fans are disappointed in this past Saturday’s 38-20 loss to Florida and that some are highly critical of the program and the leadership at the moment. But neither does he believe it or want to hear it.

“I’m not on social media, which is the devil’s playground,” Mason said Tuesday afternoon. “So when you’re not on social media I think that helps out a lot. You don’t really know who’s saying that stuff. That may be your brother behind that screen name, you just never know. It’s just good for me and I think every athlete really to avoid that. The quarterback position is a little different because you’re like the head coach. You take more heat for the losses and you get more credit than you deserve when you win. So you just kind of take it with a grain of salt.”

The Bulldogs had a tough day both offensively and defensively in Jacksonville. The defense have up 418 yards rushing — the most allowed by a Georgia team since 1978 — and the offense scored just 20 points, its fewest of the season and less than half what it was averaging coming into the game.

“I understand people are upset,” Mason said. “No one’s more upset than me. No one has higher expectations on this team than these guys in here and us as players. We don’t prepare and put in all this hard work and go out there and want to lay an egg. We’re fully preparing and doing everything we can. Sometimes you just get beat. Sometimes in life you hit adversity. What are you going to do? Are you going to lay down or you gonna get up and keep chugging along?

“I promise you, we’re not going to quit. We got beat, you know? Move on. There’s still a lot to play for this year. We can still win an SEC Championship if things go according to plan. It can still be a great season for us.”

Mason commanded a lot of attention from reporters covering UGA’s Media Day on Tuesday. Here’s more of what he had to say on a variety of topics:

On what happened to the offense this past Saturday …

“I don’t know if I can give an accurate answer. We had two great weeks of practice. If you were to tell me we’d come out and just lay an egg, I would’ve been very shocked. But, you know, that’s what happened. Florida’s over. We’re moving on from it. We’re worried about Kentucky.”

On possibility of still reaching the SEC title game …

“It’s still an unbelievable goal to accomplish. Any time you’re in that game or you win that game, it’s definitely considered a successful season. We know we’re right there. Obviously we’re looking at some other teams hoping they will lose one or two games. But when you’re in that situation is control what you can control and we can control how we play against Kentucky and the next game. If it works out for us, it does; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

On the annual expectations at Georgia …

“This is the University of Georgia. It’s a premier place to play college football. It’s got a lot of history. When you think of big-time college football programs, you definitely think of the University of Georgia. The state of Georgia is kind of a hot bed for recruiting. We’ve got a lot of recruits around, a lot of top talent.

“I know based on my five years here the expectations have been high to win a championship every year. I don’t think there’s anything else we talk about besides winning a championship. First off, it’s SEC championship. We know if we’re in that game then statistics and history shows you’re probably going to be playing for the national championship. The expectations every year are to go to Atlanta, and then it’s just known your probably playing for the national championships.

On his adjustment to being the starting quarterback …

“Obviously, I have quite a bit of experience now playing in some games. Playing in that game against Kentucky last year and going back and looking at them since then helps. But they’ve kind of changed their system a little bit on defense. They’re doing a little different stuff watching their games this year compared to last year. But it helps doing what we did last year, but they’re pretty different.

On no longer controlling destiny in East …

“You go back to that same mentality we had after we lost to South Carolina.  … It’s still a long season, still a lot of games to be played. So you just go back to controlling what you can control. I know that’s not always the most popular answer or the most fancy answer. But it’s all we can do right now. If at the end of the year we win out and Missouri wins out, kudos to them. But we feel pretty confident that if we take care of our business we should have a pretty good shot of playing in Atlanta.”

On awareness of other teams’ paths to Atlanta …

“No doubt you’re looking up to see who Missouri’s got the rest of the year. You’re just more aware of who they’re playing. If you’ve got time to watch them, that’s definitely what you’re going to be watching on TV.”

On chances now of winning it all …

“I don’t think it’s unrealistic at all. I think it just comes down to your mental makeup as a team, from everybody, the coaches to the players.”

On what it will take ...

“Not being content – and I’m not saying we were – but every week that goes by are you just as hungry for the next one as you were for the last one? That’s really what it comes down to. Are you as hungry for the one coming up in the way you prepare and practice? Do you have the motivation to be a champion on a weekly basis? One person can’t  control everybody on the team. I get a feel for the offense and what our focus is every week. On special teams and defense, I really don’t know. You don’t know what guys are going when they go home after practice. Hopefully, they’re getting their best rest and preparation. But you just don’t know.”

On passing game being more of a factor …

“I’m fine with whatever it takes to win, man. I would’ve liked to have performed better and just played better in a lot of games. I’d like to have some balls back. But that’s behind me. I thiknk there’s a lot of things, moving forward, I can do better at. My mental approach every week is to prepare like I’m going to throw the ball 40 times a game. If we don’t end up throwing the ball 40 times, well, OK, at least I was prepared. If I am in that situation, I know I’ll be ready to go. So, you know, we’ll do what we need to do to win. It’s all about execution.”

On field position playing role in offensive struggles this past Saturday …

“When you’re playing a really good defense like Florida – they’re definitely the best defense that we played this year – it’s challenging to the take the ball 80 yards. You’re not going to take the ball 80 yards every time against a really good defense like that. But our defense gave us a really good opportunity on that turnover and we didn’t make any points out of it. We’ve just got to do a better job at, when we get turnovers, whether it’s one or four, getting at least three points out of it.”

On Kentucky’s defense …

“I see a team that’s play with a lot more passion, a lot more energy. You see a team that has goals right in front of them. They understand every game is important. Usually this time of year when we go to Kentucky they’re kind of down and the season may be over for them. But these guys are trying to get to a bowl game. So I fully expect their crowd to be in it. They’ve had some big wins this year and played some big teams really close. So it’s a different team and it’s a kind of new approach. I think they’ve had 13 picks this year, which may lead the conference. They’re at the right place at the right time.

On people who want coach Mark Richt fired …

“They’re not true fans.”

 

 

 


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