Georgia quarterbacks combined to throw six interceptions Tuesday afternoon as blustery conditions stole the show in the first spring scrimmage.
"It was a rough day to throw and catch," coach Mark Richt said, "and there were quite a few dropped balls in that mess."
Starting quarterback Aaron Murray was given permission to miss the scrimmage so he could go to Atlanta and accept the 2013 Peach of an Athlete Award. Redshirt junior Hutson Mason got most of the first-team snaps and, according to statistics kept by the coaches, went 14-of-23 for 186 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Early enrollee Brice Ramsey completed 6 of 10 passes for 51 yards but was intercepted three times, and junior walk-on Parker Welch had an interception as well. Redshirt sophomore Christian LeMay was not picked off but completed just 1 of 11 passes for 13 yards.
"There were some balls I let go that the wind just took," Mason told reporters afterward.
The 6-foot-3, 206-pounder from Marietta redshirted last year after completing 27 of 47 passes for 356 yards in his first two seasons as Murray's backup. He was told Monday that Murray would be absent and that it was his offense to guide.
"Hutson did a nice job," Richt said. "There were some balls that got blown sideways for everybody, but Hutson has a good feel for what we're doing. This is his fourth year in the system, so he's very capable of running the show."
Said Mason: "I don't get too many reps with the ones. Getting all the reps felt good. There's a lot more time in the pocket."
Sophomore tailback Keith Marshall, who missed the start of spring with a hamstring pull, rushed 11 times for 71 yards. Fellow sophomore Todd Gurley had only two carries, netting 15 yards.
Leading the receivers was junior Chris Conley, who had three catches for 72 yards and accounted for the lone offensive touchdown. Redshirt freshman Blake Tibbs had four catches for 42 yards, while junior Malcolm Mitchell had three for 30.
"We had some good things happen offensively, but putting long drives together and scoring a bunch of touchdowns didn't happen today," Richt said. "The defense did a good job and the weather conditions also did not allow many deep balls. What I liked about today's scrimmage is that the guys played physical."
Junior inside linebacker Ramik Wilson led the defense with seven tackles, while freshman safety Tray Matthews was next with four. Sophomore outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, junior defensive end Ray Drew and senior outside linebacker T.J. Stripling each had two sacks, while sophomore cornerback Sheldon Dawson had two interceptions.
Dawson returned one interception 67 yards for a touchdown.
"It's way different than last year," Wilson told reporters. "We're much faster and quicker. We've got a point to prove. We lost a lot of guys, but we've got a lot of guys ready to step up."
Richt praised Wilson for making a nice adjustment after playing at outside linebacker last season.
The newcomer who drew the most adulation was Matthews, the most touted member of this year's signing class. The 6-foot, 194-pounder from Newnan, Ga., had a pass deflection to go along with his four stops.
"He's not playing like a freshman," Marshall said.
The Bulldogs will practice again Thursday, when right tackle John Theus is scheduled to work out for the first time. They will hold their second scrimmage Saturday.