Published Thursday, December 27, 2012 AT 12:30 PM / Updated at 4:59 PM
Capital One Bowl: Nebraska and Georgia practice quick hits
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

ORLANDO AND CELEBRATION, Fla. — Nebraska returned to major practice and preparation for the Capital One Bowl Thursday at Freedom High School in Orlando. Georgia actually got a head start, working out for an hour Wednesday at Celebration (Fla.) High School. Here’s collected notes from both teams:

>> Center Cole Pensick — expected to be the starter for next week’s game in relief of the injured Justin Jackson — did not travel with the rest of the team because of a lingering virus. Pensick will arrive Thursday night and practice Friday. Mark Pelini — Bo’s nephew — is the other center that will play for NU.

“Cole was probably lined up as the starter for most of bowl practice, and Mark had a good day today. We feel confident in both those guys.”

>> Georgia defensive end Abry Jones returned to practice Thursday in a limited role, according to the injury report Bulldog coaches released during practice. Abry’s return is a big addition for Georgia, considering the loss of nose tackle John Jenkins (academic issues) for the game.

>> NU coach Bo Pelini said the Huskers had to shake off some of the rust from a holiday break, but otherwise had a strong workout. Nebraska installed its plan for attacking Georgia last week.

“It’s a pretty mature group,” Pelini said. “I think they understand the challenge we have ahead of us … they understand the balance you need to have obviously between enjoying the city and enjoying the time you have down here, but also keeping in the mind that the big picture is being ready to play a football game.”

>> UGA coach Mark Richt said Georgia’s moved on from a 32-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game.

“I don’t think they’ll forget about it,” Richt said, “but life goes on. They’ve gotten back to work.”

>> Pelini said the break between a 70-31 blowout loss to Wisconsin and the Capital One Bowl helped the Huskers rebuild their stamina.

“You look back at the last game that we played and for whatever reason we did look a little leg weary. Maybe the last second half of the season took a bit of a toll on us? I don’t know. It was a physical, tough grind. Hopefully our guys have their legs back underneath them.”

>> Running back Rex Burkhead and defensive tackle Chase Rome both said Nebraska’s older players and starters are treating this bowl game more like a business trip and less like a holiday getaway.

“I’d hope so — especially after last year,” Rome said.

Burkhead said that many of older players are trying to get off their feet, relax and lock in on Georgia.

“You want to make sure you’re focusing on the game  and not too much on the fun,” Burkhead said. “We’re down here to have a little bit of fun — that’s what the bowl trip’s meant for — but we’re here to beat Georgia. That’s Coach Bo’s message, as well as the seniors. I think the whole team gets that.”

>> Do not expect wide receiver Quincy Enunwa to play tight end as a senior if Nebraska is unable to sign any junior college tight ends for the 2013 recruiting class.

I’m not playing tight end … that’s what everybody keeps asking me,” Enunwa said. He’s happy at wide receiver.

>> Linebacker Zaire Anderson’s rehab is going very well, he said, after tearing up his knee … last spring? Yes, Anderson told reporters. He’d been playing on a torn ligament for six months, apparently, when doctors discovered it after the Arkansas State game

But Anderson’s recuperated quickly, and is now doing running and quickness drills. He expected to be close to full speed for spring.

Three redshirt freshman Huskers are emulating key members of Georgia’s team.

>> Linebacker Thomas Brown is Georgia pass rusher Jarvis Jones. The defensive scout team player of the year — who didn’t play in 2012 because of a preseason injury — is apparently doing a good job, too.

“He sets the tone a lot of the time,” running back Ameer Abdullah. “He’ll come out here and smack someone in the mouth, and then the No. 1s will get mad.”

>> Grand Island quarterback Ryker Fyfe is Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.

>> Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine is Georgia giant nose tackle Kwame Geathers. Geathers is 6-foot-6, 351 pounds. Valentine is 6-3, 320.

“He’s doing good,” guard Jake Cotton said.

>> Lots of praise for Georgia’s two freshman running backs, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. They’re roommates and although their body types are different, they both have a quiet, shrug-it-off maturity and tough running style.

“You never how any freshman’s going to respond,” UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “The media now. The time football demands on you. And then the school demands. It’s tough. You don’t know how they’re going to react. But those two have been able to come in and respond well to everything. It’s a credit to their maturity.”

>> Nebraska’s match-zone pass defense will not be a big mystery to Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. That’s because he’s seen it. Alabama, LSU and Florida all run variations of Bo Pelini’s defense, Murray said.

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.