No. 13 Georgia to face QB Freebeck, Vanderbilt
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Vanderbilt and No. 13 Georgia bring different quarterback questions into Saturday’s game.
Vanderbilt freshman Wade Freebeck is expected to make his third start as Patton Robinette misses his second straight game with a concussion.
Meanwhile, Georgia coach Mark Richt has fielded questions this week about the possibility senior starter Hutson Mason could share snaps with backup Brice Ramsey.
Mason threw two interceptions in last week’s shaky 35-32 win over Tennessee and acknowledged he needs to play with more confidence.
Georgia (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) has leaned on star tailback Todd Gurley’s big plays. The Bulldogs have overcome the nation’s 111th-ranked passing game to score 45.2 points per game.
Vanderbilt (1-4, 0-3) is looking for its second straight win over Georgia but is a big underdog.
The Commodores have allowed 11 sacks this season, including four in last week’s 17-7 loss to Kentucky. Coach Derek Mason said he will make changes to ensure Freebeck has better protection.
Right guard Spencer Pulley said Freebeck wasn’t rattled despite taking a lot of hits from Kentucky’s defense. “His confidence was the same the whole time, and I thought that was a great thing,” Pulley said.
Richt said this week he is open to playing two quarterbacks, as he has earlier in his career. Richt, however, said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo prefers to stick with the starter.
“I was kind of used to it, but over time I don’t think Mike felt quite as strong about it, so we kind of got away from it, but it’s not a bad thing to do,” Richt said.
Hutson Mason said he needs to relax and “rip it” instead of being too cautious with his throws.
He said he wants to make good decisions “but I think there’s just got to be a new mindset this week where I just let it fly to the best of my ability. ... I think some of my problem in the past has been putting too much pressure on myself as far as trying to get everything right. I think that kind of has slowed down my ability to play.”
Here are some other things to watch for in Saturday’s SEC East game:
NO PROMOTION NEEDED: Richt said Gurley’s play is the only promotion necessary to generate support for his Heisman Trophy chances. The junior has been receiving consistent mention among Heisman hopefuls. “The Heisman campaign is just watching him do his thing,” Richt said. Derek Mason needs no convincing. “He’s arguably the best running back in college football,” Mason said. “Gurley does it as good as anyone. He’s a downhill runner, has great vision, is strong, and reminds me of Adrian Peterson.”
WELCOME BACK: It’s homecoming for Georgia — and also for many Commodores. Vanderbilt has 18 players from Georgia, more than any other state — even Tennessee (17).
GIVE SIMS THE BALL: Vanderbilt is last in the SEC with only 85 points. Darius Sims is responsible for three touchdowns on returns. He returned two kickoffs for TDs against South Carolina and scored on an interception return for the Commodores’ only points against Kentucky. Mason said the Commodores plan to get the ball to Sims.
OPENING DAY: Wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley are expected to make their season debuts, providing a boost to the Georgia passing game. Mitchell may be limited. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in last year’s opener at Clemson, needed arthroscopic surgery after re-injuring the knee in August and was protected from contact in his return to practice this week. Scott-Wesley also had knee surgery last year and also was recovering from a preseason ankle injury while serving a suspension for a marijuana arrest.
TAILBACK INJURIES: Brendan Douglas, who has only eight carries this season, is expected to play as Georgia’s third tailback, behind Gurley and Nick Chubb. Keith Marshall (knee) and Sony Michel (shoulder) are recovering from injuries.
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