ORLANDO, Fla. — Senior linebacker Will Compton stood Wednesday night in the lobby of the same hotel that Nebraska's team stayed at last year, insisting that he and his teammates weren't at all disappointed to be spending another bowl week in central Florida.
The familiarity with the city helps provide a clearer road map for entertainment — they know where to eat, shop and hang. They're scheduled to spend a day at Universal's Islands of Adventure, a park they didn't visit last year. Some guys might attend Friday's Russell Athletic Bowl, when Rutgers faces Virginia Tech.
Add the daunting challenge of facing off against highly regarded Georgia into the week's itinerary and there's plenty of reasons for the players to get excited about a return trip to Orlando, Compton said.
“It's the best bowl outside of the BCS,” he said. “It feels like déjà vu, but we're ready to take care of business.”
That's the challenge for the Huskers, as they split their time between preparing for Tuesday's Capital One Bowl and enjoying the touristy hot spots. They'll be trying to focus when they're required to, while also relaxing when they can.
Coach Bo Pelini acknowledged the concern Wednesday.
“It's always difficult in a bowl game,” Pelini said. “But we've got a mature group. They're kids that understand what it takes and hopefully that will show up (on Tuesday).”
He addressed the team in a meeting as soon as the players arrived at their hotel Wednesday night. A delay to the Huskers' charter flight schedule eliminated much of the planned downtime. Seven buses emptied outside the Peabody Hotel around 6:45 p.m. local time. The players went straight to a large ballroom.
They'd already held lifting and running workouts in Lincoln Wednesday morning before gathering to briefly review the pre-Christmas progress — Pelini said he conducted the four practices last week as if it were a “regular game week.” They also started a portion of their on-site preparation — Compton said Thursday's 9:30 a.m. practice will be structured similar to that of a Tuesday session during a normal week.
Senior defensive lineman Cameron Meredith said practices went well last week.
“We're ready,” he said.
And not just for Georgia.
Meredith said he scouted out some restaurants as soon as he found out the Huskers would be headed back to Orlando.
He and a few teammates have compared this year's return trip to the second of back-to-back appearances in the Holiday Bowl. “It's a lot better the second time,” he said.
Pelini said players told him after last year's Capital One Bowl experience that they ended up wishing they had more time at some of the amusement parks.
“It sounds like they're really looking forward to being down here,” Pelini said.
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