CELEBRATION, Fla. — If Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez is cloaking his thoughts on the strengths of Georgia's defense, the Bulldogs make few bones about Martinez being the focal point of the Huskers' offense.
“He can take it the distance on any play,” linebacker Jarvis Jones said.
“He's elusive,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “He's a dynamic runner. And he can make accurate throws on the run, which can give you problems.”
Defensive tackle Kwame Geathers: “When you've got a quarterback like that, you've got to contain him, keep him in the pocket, not let him run as much.”
And linebacker Alec Ogletree: “I can't really compare him to anybody we've played this year. He's a good athlete. To me, he's more like the dude from Texas A&M.”
That being 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. In practice, Georgia has been using backup quarterback Faton Bauta to emulate Martinez. Jones said Bauta — a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder — is mobile.
“Faton's pretty fast,” Jones said. “I don't know that he's faster than Martinez.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt said Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck does a good job of designing his offense around Martinez's talents and featuring him as a runner.
“We haven't had the greatest success defending those types of guys, but not many people have done a good job of defending him, either,” Richt said.
DE Jones back for bowl
After senior defensive end Abry Jones had surgery on his ankle in October, he could have shut down his season and prepared for the 2013 NFL draft.
He chose instead to rehab fast enough to return for the Capital One Bowl. Jones, who started all 14 games last year, could see action Tuesday against Nebraska.
“This is my senior year, I missed so much,” said Jones, a 6-3, 308-pounder. “I always want to play one more game with the fellas. If they let me play, I'm gonna play.”
Richt said Jones' stamina might limit his playing time against Nebraska. But his presence could help offset the loss of nose tackle John Jenkins, out of the game for academic reasons.
“The plan is to play him, but as practices go on, we'll have a little bit better gauge of what that might look like,” Richt said. “Just the thought of him fighting like mad to get back on the field is a sign of his integrity, love of the game and love of Georgia.”
Finale for juniors?
Georgia moved practice Thursday at Celebration High School from the school's practice fields — where South Carolina conducted all of its workouts last year — to the school's main playing field. Jarvis Jones said the footing on the practice fields wasn't very good.
Richt praised his team's focus through a handful of workouts; Georgia would likely conduct the equivalent of two “Thursday practices” Saturday and Sunday before the game.
But the coach said he's learned not to take too much from practice.
“You don't know,” he said. “No matter how good you might practice, you still gotta get in that game and start playing.”
Several Georgia juniors have been asked the past two days at bowl practice about their college football futures. They're choosing not to address those upcoming decisions.
First, it was quarterback Aaron Murray on Thursday, claiming he hasn't thought about the NFL. He said he'll wait until after the Capital One Bowl to ponder the possibility of leaving early for the draft.
Reporters brought up the same topic Friday during interviews with Ogletree and Geathers, both of whom are taking Murray's approach.
“I'm here right now and that's all I'm worried about,” said Ogletree, projected to be a possible first-round pick in April. “Once the game's over, I'll go home, talk to my family and make a decision.
Said Geathers: “Right now, I'm just trying to focus on this bowl game.”
All-American linebacker Jones is, by all accounts, expected to enter the draft. Analysts predict that he's likely a top-10 pick.
Moving on minus coach
Geathers admitted he was a bit surprised when he found out that long-time defensive line coach Rodney Garner was leaving Georgia for Auburn.
Geathers indicated that the move shouldn't impact the D-line's performance against Nebraska, though. He held no resentment when talking about Garner on Friday.
“I'm happy for him that he had another opportunity to go somewhere else,” Geathers said.
Garner, who had been at Georgia since 1998, won't be replaced until after the Capital One Bowl. Grantham is coaching the D-line this week.
— Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa