ST. JOHNS, Fla. — The Nebraska football team likely came out of a weekend of Gator Bowl preparations with a better appreciation for the Hawks Center, its convenient and weather-proof indoor facility sitting empty in Lincoln.
Without one of the perks of home, NU found itself scrambling on a rainy Sunday. Georgia decided not to go outside at all.
A second straight day of rain in Jacksonville led the Huskers to a different practice site and starting time, though coach Bo Pelini said they made the most of it on the equivalent of a Wednesday during a regular-season game week.
“This was perfect,” Pelini said. “I thought it was good. I thought our work was good, our tempo was good, our enthusiasm was good. I liked our day.”
It didn't look promising Sunday morning when Nebraska was scheduled to start practice at 10:15.
But NU pushed back to a 1 p.m. start and headed for a FieldTurf surface at the hard-to-find Creeks Athletic Association in the suburb of St. Johns instead of the beat-up grass at the University of North Florida.
The Huskers had finished in a steady rain Saturday, and Pelini said it was “hard to get any kind of rhythm going when you have that type of rain and guys sloshing around.”
According to the Florida Times-Union, it was the first time a team had switched venues since the current North Florida-Jacksonville University practice rotation started in 2001. NU also looked into using the Jacksonville Jaguars' facility or the stadium at The Bolles School, but neither was available.
Even with a reservation at the Creeks Athletic Association field, the Huskers had to bus to North Florida before and after practice for all their gear. But Pelini said that went smoothly with good work from the NU support staff.
“It was the right thing to do,” he said. “With the rain, the fields got tore up over there a little bit. It was as much as anything else a safety issue, to make sure that people weren't stepping in holes and divots and that type of thing.”
Georgia did its only work on carpet after canceling practice at Jacksonville U.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt decided on a walk-through at the team hotel instead. So staffers moved tables and chairs out of a second-floor banquet hall of the Omni Jacksonville where the Bulldogs would be eating lunch a little later.
The defense went 75 minutes while the offense held meetings, then the units swapped places for a similar shift after a brief special teams session.
Richt said he wasn't worried about any disruption to preparations for the New Year's Day game after the Bulldogs had worked out in full pads Friday and Saturday. Richt said Georgia also checked with the Jaguars to see if their facility might be available.
“I think we'll be good,” Richt said. “Sometimes it's a blessing, ya know, because we've been pushing them hard and we've been conditioning them hard. We were going to condition today, but maybe they need a break. So I'm going to take it as that.”
Richt said it wasn't much different than Georgia might treat Wednesday or Thursday practices coming off a bye week.
“Now if I had two or three days in a row and could not get out and couldn't throw and catch and get the timing, I'd be concerned,” he said. “But there's something about slowing things down and just really teaching at a different pace, a slower pace, that sometimes just helps everything click with the guys. So I'm comfortable with what happened today.”
It remained overcast until late afternoon before the sun finally poked through on a warm Sunday. There is only a slight chance of rain Monday and Tuesday, and the forecast for Wednesday's game calls for temperatures in the low 60s and mostly cloudy skies.
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>> Video: See highlights from Nebraska's practice:
>> Video: See coach Bo Pelini address the media: