You probably noticed that, except for one brief stretch in the second quarter…
The senior quarterback completed 9 of his 12 passes, tallying 104 of his game-total 147 pass yards in that quarter. Perhaps the most promising drive of the whole game — for the passing game at least — came on Georgia’s second-to-last possession of the half. Mason connected with Gurley, fullback Taylor Maxey and wide receiver Reggie Davis before completing his only touchdown pass of the game to freshman Nick Chubb.
… Georgia’s passing game against Tennessee was a complete mess. There’s plenty of blame to go around, and the parties involved are more than willing to throw it.
“I don’t know today execution-wise on my part and everybody’s else part offensively if we can really say that this would win us a ballgame again even if we played Tennessee again or even games down the road,” Mason said. “It’s a lot more fun to learn from your mistakes after a win. … It’s just a little frustrating when you rep stuff all week, and you don’t execute it right.”
“We’ve got to place the ball better,” Richt said, “and we’ve got to get off the jam better and give a better target. … The reality is we need to get a little separation out there too. We need to get some guys that give you something a little more exciting to throw to than just a back-shoulder throw. Obviously, you can say ‘out-of-sync.’ I don’t know the words to use, but we’re definitely not clicking and throwing the ball like we like around here.”
“We’re doing what we need to be doing,” Bennett said. “We aren’t trying to force anything, but we’re taking what is given to us. We were taking some shots down the field. We just need to execute them. I had a few chances deep. Chris (Conley) had a few chances. We just need to execute. I feel like a few tweaks here and there and we’ll get it going.”
“I do have confidence in him to do that,” Conley said. “It just comes down to us being consistent. Without consistency you won’t have a quarterback who trusts you. And right now that’s something that we have to work on as receivers.
“It’s not always his fault. A lot of times it’s us.”
They’ve played in their fourth game of the season, with a fifth-year senior at quarterback and senior wide receivers, and they’re still struggling mightily with communication issues.
“Even the touchdown pass I threw to Chubb really wasn’t the right route. I see him running the other route and just had enough protection where I could sit in there and hit him on it,” Mason said. “So yeah, there’s still some miscommunication between guys.”
In weeks past, the stagnant passing game has been justified by mistake-free football. Going into Saturday’s matchup, Mason hadn’t thrown an interception all season. Against Tennessee, he threw two.
While it’s easy to blame Mason for two untimely throws, Conley held himself responsible for his quarterback’s second turnover, which Mason referred to as “just an average one-on-one jump ball for Conley.”
“I was wrong on my route, and I caused that interception,” Conley said. “I was supposed to be able to adjust by the way I ran it off the line. I messed it up at the line, and it gave the corner position. It’s one where I’m supposed to beat my guy at the line, and I’m supposed to establish a cushion at the sideline. What I did at the line didn’t establish that cushion.”
I don’t get why this is happening. And to me, it’s an even bigger concern than Hutson Mason’s arm strength. Just ask the head man.
“We’re definitely not clicking throwing the ball like we like around here,” Richt said. “But like I said before, part of it is when you throw it as hard as we have been, it’s hard to abort running the ball just to sling it around to prove you can. We’re trying to win games around here.”
I don’t know if that’s a general observation, or a more specific criticism of whatever Bobo was up to in the third quarter yesterday, but either way, it’s certainly frustrating. And I don’t know that getting injured receivers back, or even changing quarterbacks (NOTE: I’m not calling for that, just using it as an example) is going to make any difference in the short run, if timing and communication are the big problems. But it’s something Bobo and Ball better get a handle on soon.
UPDATE: Tyler has some additional thoughts.