College football coaches typically detest dealing with hypothetical questions, but it's unavoidable in the case of Georgia backup quarterback Hutson Mason.
Mason has played his true freshman and sophomore seasons as Aaron Murray's backup yet plans to redshirt this season to put a year between him and Murray, who is a redshirt junior. Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said last week that if something happens to Murray before the season that Mason would be elevated, but at what point this fall would Richt feel comfortable with redshirt freshman Christian LeMay if Murray went down?
"I think it really just depends on how we're doing," Mason said. "If we're undefeated and Murray gets hurt and he's out for the season, that's quite the opportunity to step in and hopefully lead the team to an SEC championship. I'll obviously have to sit down with Coach Richt at some point and determine when is too late.
"If he gets hurt for one game, it probably wouldn't make much sense for me to lose a redshirt, but it depends on what that game is. If he gets hurt in the SEC championship game and we're going to play in the national championship game -- those are things you can't really get a feel for right now."
Richt's dismissal of Zach Mettenberger, now the starting quarterback at LSU, in the spring of 2010 put Mason on a fast track when he arrived that summer. The 6-foot-3, 196-pounder from Marietta is the only true freshman quarterback to play in the Richt era other than Matthew Stafford in 2006.
Yet the quick opportunity put Mason in the same class as Murray, who redshirted the '09 season, and left Mason wondering last December if he should transfer to another school for more playing time. Richt provided Mason the opportunity to redshirt in January, but even Richt isn't sure when or if that will be cemented.
"The question is how long into the season do you say that Hutson won't play if something happened," Richt said. "If you are midseason or beyond, you probably have to have a good discussion and everybody be on the same page and have everybody's heart where it belongs."
Mason's heart remains with the Bulldogs, which is why he has no regrets about his decision to return. He has played in eight games through two seasons, completing 27 of 47 passes for 356 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
"When Coach Richt offered me the chance to redshirt, I felt really comfortable of still hopefully having two years to start if Murray has a good year and goes pro," he said. "It's just like anything else in that you don't know what is going to happen. All I can control is my effort and my attitude, and I just hope the cards play out right and that Murray stays healthy for one more year and lights it up like he's done so far in his career here."
The Bulldogs practiced in full pads Monday. They will practice twice today and will scrimmage for the first time Wednesday. ... Sitting out Monday were right guard Chris Burnette (sick) and defensive ends Ray Drew (concussion) and Abry Jones (knee contusion). ... Junior tight end Arthur Lynch has weighed as much as 280 pounds but is down to 255. ... Richt on the first five days: "I have no complaints whatsoever about the effort."
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