The fifth-year senior from Lassiter High School cemented his place atop the depth chart in Saturday’s G-Day spring football game, leading the Red first-team offense to a 27-24 win over the Black.
Meanwhile, it is a free-for-all on defense where new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has wiped the slate clean.
“The guys on defense will all tell you that no one knows who is going to play where, who is going to start and who will do what,” coach Mark Richt said. “This offseason will determine a lot.”
Mason completed 18 of 27 passes Saturday for 241 yards and one touchdown. All but three of the Red team’s 27 points came with Mason at the helm. He might have had another touchdown but junior tailback Todd Gurley fumbled through the back of the end zone on the opening drive of the game.
“He had a good day (Saturday),” said Richt of Mason. “His other two scrimmages were better than (Saturday). He is very knowledgeable and comfortable. He is accurate. He is a competitor. I know he is excited about this next season.”
Mason thought about transferring while Murray was setting records.
“My pride was telling me one thing and my heart was telling me something else,” Mason said.
With Mason directing the offense, the Reds drove to a 34-yard Marshall Morgan field goal, a 10-yard TD pass to Reggie Davis, a 2-yard scoring run by Gurley and a 1-yard dive by Brendan Douglas.
Redshirt freshman Brice Ramsey came on late to lead the Reds to another Morgan field goal, this one from 30 yards.
But redshirt sophomore Faton Bauta had his best day at the spring, completing 16 of 28 passes for 232 yards and two TDs, with one interception.
“Faton made a wise decision to wear a regular-color jersey,” Richt said. “He was able to show what he can do athletically.”
Leading the Black team, Bauta matched Mason point for point. A.J. Turman had two short rushing touchdowns, and Uriah LeMay caught a 41-yard scoring pass from Bauta. Thomas Pritchard kicked a 29-yard field goal.
The other quarterbacks wore black shirts, a signal they were off limits to the defense. Richt felt it robbed the defense of some momentum.
“I kind of feel their pain when they can’t hit the quarterback,” said Richt. “You never know they might get a sack or a strip that might be a momentum swing.”
Sam linebacker Leonard Floyd agreed.
“It is different when you get close and have to slow up,” said Floyd. “I tried my best to stay away from tackling to quarterback.”
Floyd might have had a couple of sacks on a normal day. As it was, he had six tackles and two passes knocked down.
The defenders were generally pleased with their effort but agree there is much room for improvement.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Will linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “We have to keep working.”
“We had a couple of mental errors,” Mike linebacker Ramik Wilson said. “We have a long way to go. We will get better. Coach Pruitt is trying to figure out who can help us.”
“He was not trying to win the day,” Richt said. “He was trying to put our guys out there to evaluate them.”
Only backup offensive lineman Eddie McQuillen was injured, and Richt said the unspecified leg injury was not serious.
Two defensive backs were scratched from the game for injury: converted tailback J.J. Green and Tray Matthews, both sophomores. Matthews is one of four players arrested this spring for theft by deception.
The game drew 46,073 fans.