ORLANDO, Fla. — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini confirmed that defensive tackle Todd Peat, one of the top signees of NU's 2011 recruiting class, didn't make the bowl trip and will not return to the program.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Peat redshirted in 2011, struggled after back surgery in the offseason and hasn't been a factor in NU's defensive line rotation. The Tempe, Ariz., star picked the Huskers over Arizona State on Signing Day 2011, citing divine intervention. Peat said he saw a Nebraska license plate the night before his decision and took it as a sign from God.
His brother, offensive lineman Andrus Peat, picked Stanford over Nebraska on Signing Day 2012. He cited the Cardinal's ability to develop pro linemen as a reason.
Todd Peat joins Tyler Moore, Aaron Green and Ryan Klachko as four-star players who signed in the 2011 class but later left for various reasons. Bubba Starling was a part of that class as well, but he chose to play professional baseball.
A year makes a difference for Mitchell
One year ago, sophomore cornerback Josh Mitchell didn't make the Capital One Bowl trip, and speculation swirled that he wouldn't finish his career at Nebraska.
Mitchell's still here — and sporting a Blackshirt he said he got after the Minnesota game. Considerable progress in 365 days.
“I was just being young and stupid — using the 'young and stupid' excuse to do whatever I wanted,” Mitchell said of his behavior last season. “It was about growing up, becoming a man.”
The turning point was being left out of the Capital One Bowl trip last year, said the 5-11, 160-pounder.
“That's when it really hit me — sitting at home while everybody was here,” Mitchell said. “I was doing nothing. I had my doubts for a second (about returning), but nothing really serious. I didn't really believe anything I was saying to myself. I always knew I wanted to be here.”
Whaley likes matchup for defense
One key to Nebraska's defense slowing down Georgia's offense, safety P.J. Smith said, will be trying to fool Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray.
“That's one thing we've got to do in the secondary as safeties is try to confuse him on what exactly we're going to be doing,” Smith said. “Because he's reading us most of the time.”
Senior linebacker Alonzo Whaley said he's impressed with Georgia's offense, but finds that NU's base defense matches up well. The Bulldogs utilize a lot of “21” personnel — that is, two running backs and one tight end — that fit into what the Huskers often practice.
“Their style of offense fits into our style of defense ... we usually do better facing the more conventional, pro-style quarterback and pro-style offense, where they just try to run the ball straight at you,” Whaley said. “We usually do well with those type of offenses. We like the matchup.”
Fisher unsure about sixth season
Senior linebacker Sean Fisher said Friday he's yet to decide whether he'll apply for a medical redshirt and a sixth season of eligibility or head to medical school. The second-team academic All-American said he'll decide after the Capital One Bowl.
Whatever his choice, Tuesday represents Fisher's last game with fellow fifth-year senior linebackers Whaley and Will Compton. The trio combined for 211 tackles this year.
“It's been a lot of fun these last five years,” Fisher said. “We've grown to be close friends.”
Enunwa good with bowl opponent
Of course wide receiver Quincy Enunwa would have liked to play in the Rose Bowl. It would have meant a return home for Enunwa, who played high school football in nearby Moreno Valley, Calif.
But there is a silver lining to playing in the Capital One Bowl.
“We lost — so we don't get to go back to California — but we're playing a better team than Wisconsin's playing,” Enunwa said of playing Georgia instead of Stanford. “So if we win this game, it'll be a big statement for next year.”
Pensick feeling better, should start
Junior Cole Pensick was lifting weights Wednesday when he suddenly felt ill. He's still not sure how he got sick.
All he knows is that he hasn't thrown up that much since about first grade.
The team doctors told him it was his stomach “trying to get rid of anything it has.” Pensick missed the team charter Wednesday and wasn't at practice Thursday in Orlando.
By Friday, though, Pensick felt “10 times better.” He's expected to start at center for Nebraska on Tuesday.
“It was pretty bad,” Pensick said. “I couldn't take anything, couldn't drink anything. Anything I took a sip of, it was coming right back up.
“But 24 hours later, I was good to go.”
Bell ready for press coverage
Receiver Kenny Bell expects to see Georgia's cornerbacks in his face often Tuesday.
He said the Bulldogs play a lot of press-man coverage, positioning their physical defensive backs a couple feet off the line of scrimmage to disrupt the Huskers' timing.
Nebraska's receivers haven't seen much of the one-on-one approach since Michigan State, Bell said. The biggest key, Bell said, will be to gain separation the moment the ball is snapped, avoiding the defenders' attempt to jam the NU receivers.
“If we can't win on the line of scrimmage, it'll create a lot of problems for us,” Bell said.
Georgia's secondary is probably more athletic than any group Nebraska's played against this season, Bell said.
“It's going to be a great challenge,” he said.
— Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa