Dec. 27, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Under overcast skies and with temperatures hovering in the low 50s, the Georgia football team had its first practice at Jacksonville University on Friday morning in preparation for the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.
The Bulldogs will face the Nebraska Cornhuskers on January 1, 2014 at noon ET. On the first day of 2013, Georgia topped the Cornhuskers 45-31 during the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.
The team will enjoy a trip to Latitude 30 in Jacksonville on Friday night. Players will have the opportunity to bowl, enjoy the venue's numerous entertainment and arcade options and treat themselves to a variety of dining experiences.
Friday's practice marked the first for the Bulldogs since December 21. The coaching staff gave the team off several days to spend with their families over Christmas. Georgia will have three more practices at Jacksonville University's field prior to the game.
"Now that we are down here, our goal is to compete well in practice and in the game and win the game," said Bulldog head coach Mark Richt. "I hope our guys have fun and I'm sure they will in this setting. It'll be important to focus amidst all the distractions."
Junior quarterback Hutson Mason is expected to make the second start of his career in the Gator Bowl. The Marietta native got the nod at Georgia Tech following Aaron Murray's season-ending ACL injury versus Kentucky. Mason led the Bulldogs back from a 20-0 deficit to a 41-34 double-overtime win against the Yellow Jackets and finished 22-for-36 for a career-high 299 yards and two touchdowns.
"The biggest thing for Hutson is now being the guy," Richt explained. "It's one thing to be the guy in camp or in practice, but it's another thing to be the guy in a big game. We were down 20-nothing to one of our rivals and I could tell he was feeling it, just like all of us. But he led us to a touchdown before the half and that was crucial to set the stage for the rest of the game. Some guys have to wait a long time for a defining moment and one of his came pretty quickly."
Georgia (8-4) takes on Nebraska (8-4) at EverBank Field. ESPN2 will televise the game with Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham and Jeanine Edwards commentating.