ORLANDO, Fla. -- Here are some quick hits from Georgia and Nebraska’s preparations for the Capital One Bowl. There is a news conference this afternoon featuring Aaron Murray, Jarvis Jones and both coordinators. Check back for more updates.
THE BIG NEWS
Heading into bowl practices back in Athens, with the 32-28 loss to Alabama still fresh on their conscious, Georgia coaches declared a full-scale open competition on the offensive line. But as the workouts phase from competition to walk-through stage here at the bowl site, it looks like the Bulldogs will line up pretty much the same way.
“I think we’ll probably be like we were toward the end of the season,” Georgia line coach Will Friend said before Saturday’s practice at Celebration High School. “We had good practices in Athens and we had good practices here. They got to compete every day and I thought it was good to kind of open it up. But it’ll be pretty much like we ended the season.”
One of the reasons the Bulldogs opened up the competition was an attempt to reward the improvement junior Austin Long showed late in the season. But Long broke his right hand in one of the last full-contact practices in Athens. Georgia also liked the line’s look with Mark Beard playing left tackle and left tackle Kenarious Gates moving inside to play left guard toward the end of the year
“Ken will start the game,” Friend said of left tackle. “Mark’s going to play a bunch, though.”
Now that the weekend has arrived, Georgia fans are slowly starting to trickle into Orlando and are a more prominent presence in the surrounding amusement parks. There is clearly more of them than Nebraska, at least at this early juncture.
According to UGA officials, the Bulldogs have sold approximately 10,000 of their 12,500 ticket allotment for Tuesday’s game. Tickets remain on sale and can be purchased online at georgiadogs.com.
“Our sales have been pretty stable the last two weeks; no real spike,” said Tim Cearley, Georgia’s director of ticket operations. “We’re utilizing 10,000 when it’s all said and done. We went down there in 2009 and the numbers were pretty comparable. We probably sold another 500 to 700 more that particular year.”
Of course, Georgia has a slightly disappointed fan base. Cearley said 17,000 tickets were pre-sold for the BCS National Championship. In the end, the Bulldogs’ support for this bowl is about par for the course.
“When we’re in a BCS bowl or in Atlanta at the Chick-fil-A Bowl we generally sell out,” Cearley said. “These numbers are pretty typical for a non-BCS game.”
The Bulldogs’ numbers are a lot better than Nebraska’s. According to media outlets covering the Cornhuskers, they have sold less than one-third of their 12,500 allotment. That’s unusual for a program known for selling out every home game. Then again, Nebraska is coming off a 70-31 loss in the Big Ten title game.
The Bulldogs practiced for two hours in off-and-on rain Saturday morning at Celebration High School.
“We got it in without too much rain today,” Richt said. “It could always rain on game day, although it’s not predicted to right now. But a little rain never hurts. It’s good for ball concentration. You watch all these bowl games and you see a lot of ball security issues and a lot of special team issues. It’s almost like playing the first game again in some ways because you spend so much time between games. So we’ve been working real hard on the habits of securing the ball. Hopefully we’ll do a good job there.”
After practice the Bulldogs were scheduled to visit all the Disney properties. With more than 75,000 visiting the parks daily during the holidays, their VIP status is especially coveted.
“I’ve been having a good time,” freshman tailback Todd Gurley said. “I remember coming to Orlando when I was in about the third grade and going to all the parks. I’m just trying to enjoy this moment because it’s free and I’m trying to take advantage of everything while I can.”
THEY SAID IT
Georgia coach Mark Richt could not suppress an out-loud laugh when asked Saturday if he was having fun during his stay in Orlando:
“I’d have more fun if the game was today or tomorrow. After a while you’re like, ‘let’s just play the thing.’ You’re into Practice 12 or 13 or 14 in the gameplan. You’ve been here having a good time, for sure, but after a while you’re, like, ‘let’s just play.’ As a matter of fact, I’d be for practicing maybe three days, play the game, then hang around another three days afterward and really enjoy the thing. But our wives and children are having a good time. We as coaches, we’re working pretty hard throughout with the practices, the film study and the recruiting stuff on the phone. So we stay busy.”
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo on quarterback Aaron Murray at Saturday’s Capital One press conference:
“On the way over here Aaron said he was ready to get this over so he could go see Mickey Mouse.”
Nebraska senior linebacker Will Compton feels like the Cornhuskers will get at least some support from the local residents of Orlando:
“Since we’ve been down here we’ve already had a few people walk up to us and say they hope we beat Georgia because they’re for Florida. You can definitely feel that rivalry down here.”