Mark Richt doesn't expect his Georgia team to pretend its 32-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship didn't happen. The Bulldogs were too close to playing for a national title. And they did too many good things in the game to simply erase.
But Richt does want his team to bounce back — which is part of why he had the Bulldogs work out at Celebration (Fla.) upon their arrival Wednesday. Just a one-hour jaunt, but a jump start on Tuesday's Capital One Bowl nonetheless.
“I don't think they'll forget about it,” Richt said. “But life goes on. They've gotten back to work.”
Said freshman running back Todd Gurley: “At the end of the day you've got to move on. Ain't nothing you can do about it now. We probably won't forget about it. But we got another game.”
And what message would Gurley and his teammates like to send in Orlando?
“This is a game for us to make a statement,” he said. “Go out there and do what we can do. Show everybody who's the best team in the country. Which I think we are.”
Like Huskers, Bulldogs have had to bounce back from losses
If part of Nebraska's motivation for the Capital One Bowl is to end on a better note than the Big Ten Championship — NU wide receiver Quincy Enunwa used the word “avenge” on Thursday — Georgia can easily relate.
The Bulldogs were on the wrong end of a blowout this season, too. And Georgia's 35-7 loss to South Carolina was never in any more doubt than the Huskers' 70-31 loss to Wisconsin. The Gamecocks led 21-0 after the first quarter. They coasted to a 35-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter. They only had to throw 10 passes. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray threw 31 — and completed 11.
“South Carolina played extremely well and we didn't start off right,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “They were hot. It was just one of them days that you don't want to have — but sometimes you have. But in terms of a learning experience for us, I think it helped us.”
Georgia lost the same day Nebraska got run out of the Horseshoe by Ohio State. Both teams faced a bye week — and tough questions from the press and fans — after those losses. Both teams went on six-game winning streaks after that. And both teams now have to pick up the pieces after conference title game losses.
“We had an open week after that game, so we had some time to go back to the basics,” Bobo said. “Blocking. Tackling. And (Nebraska) going into a bowl game, so it's similar. They're not going to change what they do. They're going to get better at what they do.”
Geathers certainly fills gap on Georgia's defensive line
Georgia lost its top defensive tackle, John Jenkins, for the Capital One Bowl because of academic eligibility issues. But Jenkins' backup, 6-foot-6, 355-pound Kwame Geathers, could pose just as many problems for the Huskers' offensive line. “For as big of a man as he is, he's in pretty good condition,” Richt said. “Very athletic. He's just a hard guy to move. But he's got a little more pass rush than people think. He can do a great job of pushing the pocket up in the quarterback's face.”
Then Richt added: “Hopefully, Christmas didn't put a hurtin' on him.”
Richt has a long history with the Geathers' family. One of Kwame's older brothers, Robert, played for Georgia 2001-2003. Richt tried — and failed — to recruit another of Kwame's brothers, Clifton, who instead played at South Carolina. And Richt knows that Kwame's dad, played in the NFL, as did Kwame's uncle, Jumpy Geathers. All of them weighed at least 280 pounds.
“There are some big Geathers,” Richt said. “And (Kwame's) the biggest. He was the biggest probably when he was in the eighth grade. I remember him when we were recruiting his brothers and always kind of thinking that, sooner or later, he was going to be a pretty good ballplayer.
“I'm not sure if we offered him in the sixth or seventh grade, but we told him we wanted him when he came around.”
Murray says he's familiar with NU's defensive schemes
The matchup zone concepts within the Nebraska defense's coverage scheme are utilized by a few SEC defenses and shouldn't confuse Georgia.
Alabama, Florida and LSU all have similar calls in their defenses — where defenders pass off potential receiving targets, making a zone coverage appear more like a man-to-man look.
So Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said he'll be ready Tuesday. “It's nothing too crazy,” he said.
Murray said Thursday that he's become familiar with the blitz packages most often used by the Huskers, but he's sure that “they'll have something up their sleeve for us.”
Establishing the ground game and forcing Nebraska to commit one of its safeties to stopping the run will be important, according to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. He'd like to create some one-on-one matchups in space.
But he's not sure how often he'll be able to catch NU's defense off guard.
“They're going to be ready for a lot of stuff that we do,” Bobo said.
Murray putting NFL draft decision on his back burner
Murray will consider leaving Georgia after the season to enter the NFL draft. But he hasn't thought about that potentially life-changing decision just yet.
Believe it or not, the NFL hasn't been hard to ignore, either.
Why? “Because I want to win,” Murray said.
Once the season ends, the junior quarterback plans to sit down with his family and meet with his coaches. He'll make the call after that.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper told reporters on a media teleconference earlier this month that Murray is projected to be an early round pick, but he's not among the top 32 prospects.
SEEN: Georgia using the same mobile weight training regimen that South Carolina did last year. The Bulldogs lifted on asphalt. One of the workouts involved players picking up long metal chains in each hand and lifting them to shoulder level.
HEARD: “I got ants in my pants because as soon as that walk-through is done, they're all supposed to come up to me.” — Georgia coach Mark Richt, on why he had to end his media session.
UP NEXT: Georgia practices one hour later on Friday than it did on Thursday. The team then goes to the Russell Athletic Bowl as a group.
— Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa