March 26, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- With temperatures hovering in the low 40s and gusty winds blowing, Georgia's football team scrimmaged for an hour and a half at Sanford Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
This first scrimmage of the spring marked the sixth practice as the Bulldogs have seven more sessions scheduled before the annual G-Day game on April 6 at 1 p.m. Tuesday's scrimmage served as a make-up after the one scheduled for this past Saturday was canceled due to inclement weather.
Following the scrimmage, head coach Mark Richt was encouraged by the defensive effort and explained how it was tough for the offense to connect on many long passes with the 15 mile-an-hour winds.
"We had some good things happen offensively, but putting long drives together and scoring a bunch of touchdowns didn't happen today," said Richt. "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. There were a couple scuffles, nothing serious, but they showed that they were getting after it."
Junior quarterback Hutson Mason worked with the starting offense since senior Aaron Murray was in Atlanta to accept the 2013 Peach of an Athlete Award. This honor was given to the Tampa, Fla., native for his excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community.
"We gave Aaron permission to miss today since getting this kind of award is a big deal," Richt said. "He was a little concerned this would take him out of the running for an Iron Dawg Award, which is given to guys who do not miss any practices, workouts, classes and a couple other things, but I assured him it would not count against him."
Mason completed 14 of 23 passes in Murray's absence for 186 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, sophomore Keith Marshall carried the ball 11 times for 71 yards (6.5 average) while junior Chris Conley finished with a game-high 72 yards receiving and a touchdown on three catches.
"Hutson did a nice job and has a good feel of what we're doing," said Richt. "He gets everyone lined up and is capable of running the show."
Defensively, senior linebacker T.J. Stripling, sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins and junior defensive end Ray Drew each tallied a pair of sacks. Junior linebacker Ramik Wilson led the Bulldogs with seven tackles and sophomore defensive back Sheldon Dawson snagged a pair of interceptions, returning one 67 yards for a touchdown.
"Wilson has moved inside after playing outside linebacker last year and this seems to be a little more of his natural spot," Richt said. "He is making a nice adjustment in there."
Richt also singled out freshman defensive back Tray Matthews for his play. Matthews had four tackles and broke up a pass in the end zone.
"(Matthews) had two early tackles on Keith Marshall that I thought were outstanding stops," said Richt.
Also of note, Richt mentioned that sophomore tackle John Theus is expected to practice on Thursday after the Jacksonville, Fla., native had foot surgery during the offseason.
The Bulldogs kick off their season at Clemson on Aug. 31. Georgia hosts South Carolina in its Southeastern Conference opener in Sanford Stadium on Sept. 7.