“We challenged Hutson this week, and he rose to the challenge,” Richt said. The head coach acknowledged that Mason had not been performing the way the staff had hoped - particularly against Florida.
“He’s held the ball too long. But he stepped up today and let the ball rip,” Richt said.
Mason was as efficient as he’s been in his Georgia career - ending the day with more touchdowns than incompletions.
Georgia jumped out to a 21-0 lead and rarely allowed the Cats within two scores after halftime. It was the most points the Bulldogs have scored in SEC play since 1942, and a stunning reminder at the ease by which these Bulldogs can score against average defenses.
“We scored every single drive,” Richt said. “We didn’t punt. Just an awesome day.”
Isaiah McKenzie jumpstarted Georgia with a 100-yard kickoff return to start the game. He followed that up with a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
“That opening kickoff was awesome,” Richt said. “And we kept stoking that fire.”
Richt also changed the Bulldogs’ post-halftime routine. The Bulldogs typical take the field and go straight to the sideline to warm up. But Richt hasn’t been satisfied with the way the Dawgs have played coming out of the half.
“We’ve scored over 90 points in the first quarter; Over 90 in the second quarter; and something like 100 in the fourth quarter,” Richt said. “But we’ve had about 30 in the third quarter. We haven’t started fast in the second half. So we changed a bit of our routine to get everyone out there and run some sprints and get the blood flowing.”
Georgia forced a turnover; then scored. Forced a three-and-out; then McKenzie scored the 59-yard punt return to put the Dawgs up 49-24 and essentially ending the game.
“The way we came out in the second half was probably more impressive than the first,” Richt said.
Now the Bulldogs wait for Auburn to arrive in Athens. Georgia lost a heartbreaking game last season at Auburn. For all practical purposes the Bulldogs will have to defeat Auburn to win the SEC East. Even a win doesn’t guarantee the SEC East title for the Bulldogs, who chase one-loss Missouri in the standings.
However, if Georgia beats Auburn (and the Tiger have not won in Athens since 2005) and Missouri loses one of its final three games, the Bulldogs will be SEC East champs.