Q&A: Mason discusses UGA QB race

ATHENS, Ga. -- Hutson Mason might not play a down this season but says he is completely at peace with his decision to return to Georgia after admitting last year that the decision over whether to transfer often kept him up at night.

“Sleeping 100 percent better,” Mason said with a laugh. “In bed every night by 11, just sleeping all the way through.”

The rising junior quarterback will likely redshirt this fall to gain a year of class separation between himself and fellow junior Aaron Murray. But while Mason’s general plan is to sit out the season, he continues to prepare as if he will play -- just in case.

Mason visited with reporters last week and discussed a wide range of subjects, including the progress of young quarterbacks Faton Bauta and Christian LeMay and the difficulty in playing his position as a true freshman.

Here are some highlights from Mason’s interview session:

On the possibility of a redshirt season:

“A lot of things I discussed with Coach [Mark] Richt when we met and I was thinking about transferring was what if Aaron gets hurt, but there was a lot of things that we couldn’t decide right there in his office. Hopefully that won’t happen and we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get there, but I definitely think the plan right now if Murray doesn’t get hurt and he doesn’t have to come out that it’s 100 percent that I’m planning on redshirting.”

Mason said the plan to redshirt should not affect his attention to detail in preparation, however:

“I think it’s a day-by-day process. I’m just enjoying right now going out there. It’s actually working better for me because I’m getting a lot more reps with the ones. Since the reps are being split up more, I go some with the twos, but I’m getting a lot more reps with the ones, which I love that. I love going with the first-string guys, showing what I can do with the first group. But that’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t want to take that mentality because if I start to take that mentality, I’m going to mentally get worse. I don’t want to get lackadaisical and decline in what I’ve learned so far so I’m not taking that approach at all.”

Mason is one of the few true freshman quarterbacks to have played at Georgia under Richt, having arrived on campus in the summer of 2010 and played that fall because of depth issues at the position. Mason said Bauta, who enrolled in January, will benefit from the extra few months of preparation, but that playing as a true freshman is still a daunting task.

“It’s difficult. It is. I think he’s got a little more of an advantage from me because he’s going to be here longer. When camp rolls around, it will be his second time installing plays. When I first got here, I had camp and then right into the season. He should be a little bit more comfortable with the offense, which is big for freshman quarterbacks. I remember when I was a freshman, I used to second guess myself all the time just because you weren’t 100 percent sure. But Faton is a really bright kid. I think picking up the offense won’t be a problem for him. It’ll just be about relaxing and just going out there and believing in his skills and confidence and producing.”

On how redshirt freshman LeMay and true freshman Bauta are absorbing the offense:

“In LeMay’s perspective, he’s getting better every single day and you’re seeing those improvements from him. About this time when I was here for a full year was really when I started to grasp everything and things started to slow down. He’s been here about a year and you can really start to see in his decision making and the things he’s doing he’s getting better every single day. I think he’s got a bright future and he’s going to be a talented quarterback to compete with. For Faton right now, I think it’s like every other quarterback that comes in the meeting room, his head’s probably spinning a little bit just like mine was. But Faton’s an extremely bright kid. If you sit in the meeting room with Faton, he picks it up like that, which speaks high of his intelligence and everything else like that and a guy that can pick it up quick and get on the field as soon as possible.”

On whether walk-on Parker Welch might factor into the backup quarterback race and where he might rank in the pecking order:

“I think 100 percent he is. No doubt. I think if you probably asked Coach [Mike] Bobo that, he’d say, ‘Yeah, Parker’s improving a lot.’ It’s so hard for me to say just because I’m so worried about myself right now. I get to see a little bit of what other guys are doing out there at practice, but I’m so focused on me getting better. I’ve got to be ready in case Murray goes down in the first game, so I’m trying to be as ready as possible and trying to improve every single day for myself.”

Mason said that has been his approach since he arrived on campus and continues to be the case despite the redshirt plans:

“The big thing that Coach Bobo preaches is that whenever you get your opportunity, you’ve got to be prepared. That’s something that I’ve been doing and been practicing ever since I got here. You never know when you’re going to get your shot and a lot of times that comes in practice. You’ve got to show your coaches and your teammates that you’re reliable. So whenever your opportunity comes, you’ve got to step up and that’s what I’m focusing on -- being consistent and just being dependable for my teammates and my coaches and whenever my number’s called, just being able to make plays.”