WATCH: Former Georgia QB: ‘Kirby at a crossroads … with offensive identity’
ATHENS — Hutson Mason has been there before, a star recruit, a reserve Georgia quarterback, and then finally a star who led the Bulldogs to a 10-win season in 2014.
But not even Mason, an SEC Network analyst and 680 The Fan co-host, can understand what’s happening with the Georgia offense right now with Stetson Bennett under center.
“They’ll win against the Kentuckys, and I think they can beat Florida and win out,” Mason said, supposing Bennett stays under center. “But they won’t beat the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world, that’s just the reality of it.
“Kirby is at a crossroads, re really is, with offensive identity.”
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs are struggling to get the ball to their best playmakers and have a curious quarterback situation that’s left unanswered questions entering into the game at Kentucky on noon on Saturday.
Coach Kirby Smart has not deviated from his tendency to play personnel matters close to the fest. That management style has clouded the issue of how a former walk-on and fourth-string QB could still be playing ahead of a celebrated transfer from USC who is purportedly now healthy.
“There’s a lot of things that don’t make sense, but what you can rest on is that Kirby is going to play the guy that gives him the best chance to win,” Mason said during the Ingles On The Beat Show on Monday night.
“If we don’t see D’Wan Mathis or JT Daniels against Kentucky this week, then I don’t think we’ll see them this year,” Mason said, “because really the bye week … is the best time to make a quarterback change and give a guy some reps with the ones.
“But it doesn’t sound like from the rhetoric Kirby is using in the media that a quarterback change is coming.”
Indeed, Smart has been short when asked about the quarterback position and insistent that a key for the offense is for the players around Bennett to play better and give him more help.
Mason sees some shortcomings in those respects, as well.
“It’s been flat-out unacceptable how little of a factor (George Pickens) has been in these games, and you’ve got to have explosive plays in modern college football, and they’ve really got to come in the passing game,” Mason said.
“I think Todd Monken has to do a much better job of moving Pickens around, I think they have to do a much better job of developing receiver talent,” Mason said. “ Alabama took way George Pickens and Kearis Jackson, and we just didn’t have an answer. (Jermaine) Burton is still evolving, he had some big drops.
“ We are getting some of these top-notch recruits at receiver, what’s happening when they get to campus? Is there a developmental problem? Is it a scheme is it a system problem. Part of it is a quarterback problem, too.”
Mason, who once set the Georgia High School season passing record at Lassiter High School in Marietta, indicated that even if Mathis or Daniels does see action against Kentucky, expectations should be tempered.
“’I’ve been there before,” said Mason, who backed up the SEC’s all-time passing leader, Aaron Murray.
“As the No. 2 guy during the week, there’s barely enough reps to get ready — 85 to 90 percent of them go to the No. 1 guy.”
Smart indicated Bennett got all the No. 1 reps during the bye week.
2020 vs. 2019 offense
4th Bulldogs (2019), 30.8
5th Georgia (2020), 33.0
5th Bulldogs (2019), 408.1
6th Georgia (2020), 418.5
5th Bulldogs (2019), 223.0
7th Georgia (2020), 253.3
4th Bulldogs (2019), 142.4
9th Georgia (2020), 126.19
5th Bulldogs (2019), 185.1
5th Georgia (2020), 165.3
3rd Down efficiency
4th Bulldogs (2019), 41.2 percent
8th Georgia (2020), 45.5
Red Zone offense
2nd Bulldogs (2019), .946
11th Georgia (2020), .765