Our columnist Jeff Schultz gives his take on the game.
1. Mason not there yet. Expectations should not have been too high for quarterback Hutson Mason in only his second start, even following the comeback win over Georgia Tech. Not surprisingly, his inexperienced showed early. Mason threw for 320 yards, but he wasn’t always accurate (21-for-39, interception) and was sacked three times, and Georgia scored one touchdown in six red-zone possessions. In Mason’s defense, he had at least four passes dropped. But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said the quarterback needs to trust himself more next season in certain situations. We’ve probably all gotten a little spoiled watching Aaron Murray check into and out of plays, but that’s the bar for Mason to strive for.
2. Another bad sign for the defense. So when does the Georgia secondary show signs of improvement? The Bulldogs had Nebraska backed up inside its 1-yard line and facing a third-and-14. So what happened? Cornerback Shaq Wiggins let wide receiver Quincy Enunwa get too far behind him in zone coverage, and free safety Quincy Mauger missed a tackle. The Cornhuskers score on a 99-yard touchdown and took a 24-12 lead. That touchdown turned out to be the difference. Wiggins said “that kind of thing has been happening all season,” but he seemed confident the mistakes will be corrected. Question: Why is defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s defense still making mistakes like that in Game 13?
3. Where’d everybody go? Empty seats at bowls games have become an increasing problem in recent years, and the Gator Bowl was a perfect example. Bowl officials announced “tickets distributed” as 60,712, but several thousand must’ve been distributed into a dumpster because the stadium (76,000 capacity) was half empty. Georgia and Nebraska each was required to purchase 15,000 tickets, but half of those might have gone unused. It’s clear fans from neither school were interested in this bowl rematch, and Nebraska fans were not excited about having a third consecutive bowl game in Florida (Capital One twice and Gator Bowl). It has been said and written before: There are too many bowl games, and that waters down the matchups. College football will begin a four-team playoff next year, but there’s no reason to believe that will have any ripple effect on second- and third-tier bowl attendance.