ATHENS - In the locker room afterwards, the starting quarterback found himself in an unusual position.
Hutson Mason was alone. And when someone finally did approach to ask him a question, it was hard to think of what to ask, and just as hard for Mason to respond.
Mason and the Georgia football team beat down Troy, 66-0, a team so overmatched that the Bulldogs didn’t know quite how to feel.
“I don’t really know what it did for us,” Mason said. “Because no offense to Troy or anything, but the competition in this league is gonna be better than what we played (Saturday). (Saturday) was all about just taking care of business.”
Saturday did not hinder or advance the cause of this Georgia team. Everything that was known about this team was simply reinforced, the strengths still a strength, the questions left to linger another week.
Yes, it was a win on an historic level: Georgia’s largest margin of victory in 56 years, and its most points scored in 20 years. But afterwards, the Bulldogs, who split their first two games against fellow top-25 opponents, were searching for a takeaway.
“I can’t sit here and say this prepared us to play Tennessee (next week), other than sometimes it’s good to keep playing ball, and having games, and trying to improve as you go,” head coach Mark Richt said.
Mason entered this game hoping to pad his stats, and some confidence, after a quiet first two games. Instead, the tailbacks once again took over.
Freshman tailback Sony Michel led the way, scoring three touchdowns and racking up 155 rushing yards, on just 10 carries. Heisman candidate Todd Gurley hardly played, getting 73 yards on six carries in the first quarter, then not playing again.
“The game was getting out of hand, and there’s no point in continuing to give the ball, I didn’t think,” Richt said. “He did a good job while he was in there, and I’m glad. But we’ve got some other backs that are very capable, and I just didn’t see any point in keeping him in there.”
Through three games, Georgia is averaging 304 rushing yards and 7.7 yards per carry.
The passing game, on the other hand, is averaging just 167 yards per game — but also zero interceptions.
“It’s kind of been the story the first three games: Our rushing attack has kinda carried us, and we’ve done what we need to do to give us a chance to win in the passing game,” Mason said. “Maybe that’s how it’s gonna be all year. You never know, it may change game to game. But it just seems like that’s been the story for the first three games.”
Georgia’s defense also pitched its first shutout in two years. But Troy did have two chances inside the 10, chances snuffed out by a missed field goal and an interception by Georgia’s Tramel Terry.
“Whether or not who the opponent is, we still got better (Saturday),” said outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who recorded his first sack of the season. Georgia put up points on its first eight drives and also had a 52-yard punt return touchdown by freshman Isaiah McKenzie. Georgia’s first punt didn’t come until six minutes into the second half.
Mason passed for two touchdowns, finishing the day with a mere 97 passing yards, as once again nothing more was needed. The backups played most of the second half.
“I know it’s really difficult for him because, obviously, the coaches are thinking about the game next week once you get up by 30,” Conley said. “So they pull him out, not because he’s playing bad but because they want him to be fresh. And they do the same thing with Todd.”
The last time Georgia outscored its opponent by more was a 76-0 win over The Citadel in 1958. The last time it scored more points was a 70-6 win over Northeast Louisiana in 1994.
The second half appeared to be the biggest positive that Richt took from the game. Some blowouts, he said, see the backups struggle and the game pull closer. That didn’t happen this time.
“You could go into a game like this and be so upset when it’s over, even when you win sometimes,” Richt said. “Sometimes in the second half when you allow some other guys in the game, it turns into a mess. But everybody did a good job when they got their opportunity, that was nice to see.”