New quarterbacks but still plenty of excitement

dshirley@macon.comJune 13, 2014 

Pigskin_Preview

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason talks with the media gathered for the Pigskin Preview at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

Last year, we had Aaron Murray-Tajh Boyd talk to get us through the slow summer months and prepare us for the Georgia-Clemson season opener.

They were two of college football’s top quarterbacks. They were veteran starters, both wrapping up long tenures with their senior seasons. And Murray and Boyd each was arguably the best quarterback his program has ever seen.

Hutson Mason versus Cole Stoudt just doesn’t have the same feel to it.

But it doesn’t have to.

Just like last year when Murray and Boyd were in similar situations, Mason and Stoudt are this season. Mason has taken over as Georgia’s starting quarterback after Murray started for four seasons. Stoudt has stepped in for Boyd after Boyd served as Clemson’s starter for three seasons. And both Mason and Stoudt will get one season as a starter to prove what they can do.

That changes the tone of this year’s game. It’s not a showcase for the two starting quarterbacks. Instead, the focus likely will be on two improved defenses, two pretty good running games and whichever special teams unit that can help determine the outcome.

That’s not a bad thing. Actually, that sounds a lot like the old-school Georgia-Clemson games of the 1980s, and those games were really exciting throughout the entire decade.

Georgia-Clemson just has a good ring to it, especially to start a season, and hopefully it’s the kind of game we’ll see more of as we move into the College Football Playoff. Strength of schedule will play a huge part in determining the teams for that postseason field, and these kind of rivalry games should fit right into the equation as we move forward.

Georgia and Clemson aren’t always going to play every year; we will never be lucky enough to go back to the days of this being an annual rivalry. But at the very least, these two teams could play in a rotation with other big games they can pick up to fill out their schedules outside of conference play.

Both programs should be applauded for playing this game (especially when so many others only play cakewalk games outside of conference), and it’s a great game to kick off the season, no matter who is under center for the two teams. Murray and Boyd were both terrific college quarterbacks. They both had negatives on their resumes, for sure (Murray never won a conference title or played in a BCS bowl game, and Boyd couldn’t beat rival South Carolina), but they both left their marks on their programs in a huge way.

That’s what Mason and Stoudt are stepping into this season, especially in the season opener as they try to make their own way leading their programs. And it’s going to be exciting to see how they play and how that game plays out.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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