Georgia seeking enhanced passing game

Georgia seeking enhanced passing game

September 4th, 2014 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Quarterback Hutson Mason makes a pass during Georgia's game with Clemson in Athens, Ga., on Aug. 30, 2014.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Footballs were flying all around when the Georgia Bulldogs opened their 2013 season.

In games against Clemson, South Carolina, North Texas and LSU, the Bulldogs had at least four different receivers collecting catches of 20 yards or longer. That was not the case in last Saturday's 45-21 opening triumph over Clemson.

Though his running game pounded out 328 yards on 41 carries, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said this week that the passing game needed to provide more of a punch. Quarterback Hutson Mason completed a respectable 18 of 26 passes, but the Bulldogs gained just 131 yards through the air.

"We've got to do a better job of pushing the ball down the field and extending the protections a little bit better and trusting our protections," Bobo told reporters. "That's part of learning to play the position. I know it seems like he should be able to walk out there and be a natural because he's a fifth-year senior, but there are still a lot of things you do in a game that you can learn from.

"I expect a big improvement this week, because we've got to get better at throwing the ball down the field."

Michael Bennett had Georgia's only reception longer than 20 yards, catching a 23-yarder on the first possession of the second half that helped set up Marshall Morgan's 27-yard field goal that put the Bulldogs ahead to stay at 24-21. Bennett also had a 19-yard catch in the first quarter, meaning the other 24 pass attempts by Mason resulted in just 89 yards.

The Bulldogs were without Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley, two receivers with knee injuries. Head coach Mark Richt said after Wednesday's practice that Mitchell is jogging and considers him "day-to-day" for next week's game at South Carolina, while Scott-Wesley will play "when I think he's ready."

Scott-Wesley was arrested last October for marijuana possession, and Richt has been vague on his return.

"I know we can throw and catch well here at Georgia," Richt said in a news conference. "The game was a little unusual in that we got in a position in the second half where we could hammer the ball. I don't think we threw the ball in the fourth quarter."

Odds and ends

Left tackle John Theus has an ankle sprain, but Richt expects him back for Monday's practice. ... The Bulldogs will work out today and then have the weekend off. ... Richt said he was encouraged by how few mental errors there were in the secondary. ... Richt on having open dates before South Carolina and Florida: "They're in as good a place as you could ask."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.