ATHENS - Hutson Mason had the same reaction as pretty much everyone else when he saw Aaron Murray being carried off the field. More than anyone else, however, Mason had to shift focus.
"You're kind of in shell shock. And then you're like: Oh I gotta get ready," Mason said.
It was the first time Mason, in four years at Georgia, has even taken a snap in the first half. He did well, leading Georgia to a few more scoring drives to put away a 59-17 win over Kentucky.
Now Mason, a redshirt junior who has been Murray's understudy since 2010, is almost certain to make his first career start, at Georgia Tech next Saturday in the regular season finale.
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While terrible for Murray on his senior night, if Murray is going to miss the Georgia Tech game (as seems virtually certain) it was a boon to Mason and Georgia to get as much action as he did against Kentucky.
"I think it was huge, I really do," Mason said. "The biggest thing is really just getting in there and playing in front of the big crowd. Because execution and gameplan, stuff like that, I know how to run the offense. It's just a different feeling when you're playing in front of a ton of people."
Mason has always been frank about his status as the backup, and he was again on Saturday night.
"There's many times through the week where I'm like: Should I even prepare? I got voices in my head saying: I might not prepare, I might not even play, is this worth it?" he said. "It just goes to show you to always prepare like you're going to play, because you never know when it's going to come."
Mason's final line: 189 passing yards, one touchdown pass and one touchdown run, and completed 13 of 19 attempts.
"Without watching the film or anything I thought I made good decisions," Mason said. "And I felt comfortable. I felt great out there operating the offense. There's always things you can learn from, and I'll see that when I watch the film. But I feel good."
"Hutson's a great quarterback, and he's been waiting for his moment for four years," tailback Todd Gurley said. "So he's definitely prepared. And that showed us a lot, that he could go out there and perform like he did."
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said the playcalling shifted just a bit when Murray went out and Mason went in.
"We were really spread the whole tonight. We felt spreading them out was the way to go," Bobo said. "When Hutson's in there, he's a little bit more of a spread guy and we hit a little bit more of what he could do. He did a nice job."