Published Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 10:59 pm / Updated at 11:03 pm
FOOTBALL
From the sidelines: Pelini showered with affection, ice drink

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Following his handshake and chat with Georgia coach Mark Richt after Nebraska's victory in the Gator Bowl on Wednesday, Bo Pelini wanted to know only one thing.

The question wasn't directed to a specific person, just anyone who could hear Nebraska's head coach — “Where's my wife?”

Seconds later, there she was. Bo and Mary Pat shared a kiss and a hug, and their kids waited their turn for a hug.

Unfortunately those hugs had to wait, because one Husker player had a warning for the coach's wife.

“Mary Pat, get away!” NU left guard Jake Cotton shouted twice.

Cotton and tight end Jake Long were gripping the handles of a Gatorade bucket and in hot pursuit of their coach. Mary Pat Pelini heeded Cotton's warning and fled the scene.

Bo Pelini had just a moment to brace for the ice bath as Cotton and Long emptied the bucket over the coach's head.

Both players earned a big 'you got me' smile from Pelini. Some of the ice stayed in the hood of Pelini's jacket until he shared a hug with center Cole Pensick.

Martinez talks with ESPN reporter on the sideline

Though he took his last snap for the Huskers in late October, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez still attracted plenty of media attention.

Martinez spent several minutes chatting with ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards, who was dutifully taking notes throughout the conversation.

After the chat, Edwards returned a few minutes later to have her photo taken with Martinez and other Huskers on the field prior to warmups.

Later, on the TV broadcast, Edwards reported that Martinez told her he had a stress fracture. Edwards reported this on Twitter: “Taylor Martinez told me the stress fracture in his foot is about 85% healed, he just started jogging, & has NFL Combine on Feb 20 as a goal”

Of Milk-Bones and NASCAR drivers

There were two bona fide celebrities at EverBank Field on Wednesday who both have devoted followers.

Uga IX, the bulldog formerly known as Russ, was on hand to inspire Georgia players and fans. Since 1956, Uga IX and his predecessors have been at every Georgia game.

A few Husker redshirt players posed with Uga IX, as well as others with sideline access before the game. One guest brought Uga IX a Milk-Bone treat, but his handler politely declined, saying Uga IX is never allowed to have any food at venues.

Apparently Auburn fans have tried, throwing bones and other treats his way from the stands.

Then there was a noisy entrance from one end zone of EverBank Field as Dale Earnhart Jr. drove his NASCAR race car onto the field before flipping the coin at the opening coin toss.

Surprisingly, Earnhart's car didn't tear up the natural grass surface entering or leaving the field. The Gator Bowl's corporate sponsor — TaxSlayer.com — also sponsors Earnhart's No. 88 car on the NASCAR circuit.

Bulldogs do their share of woofing in the secondary

Two Bulldog defensive backs spent much of their time trying to get in the heads of Nebraska's receivers.

Georgia junior strong safety Corey Moore and freshman cornerback Shaq Wiggins were the most demonstrative of the Bulldogs' defenders, and their words could easily be heard by those on the sidelines.

For instance, Moore, who was starting in place of suspended sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons, took a little more credit than he should have following an incomplete pass to Nebraska wide receiver Quincy Enunwa that sailed high and out of bounds.

“That stuff ain't gonna go this way!” Moore barked twice. Enunwa didn't acknowledge him.

Wiggins did his share of verbal sniping at Enunwa, Kenny Bell and other Huskers who roamed into the Georgia secondary. After thinking he had broken up a pass, Wiggins stayed on his knees and made several hand gestures.

The only problem? Wiggins was called for holding on the play and the Huskers were awarded a first down.

Both Bulldog defenders also had a role in Nebraska's 99-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Armstrong to Enunwa in the third quarter. Enunwa ran through Moore's attempted tackle, and Wiggins was the player Enunwa blew by to get open for the score.

Ben Cotton still contributing for the Huskers

Former Huskers Ben Cotton and Lavonte David were on the Husker sideline enjoying the Husker victory.

Cotton even helped a photographer from Georgia who wanted to know who Nebraska's best defensive player was.

“Forty-four,” Cotton said. “He has 9Ĺ sacks this year.”

The photographer asked who 44 was, and Cotton told him, “Gregory, Randy Gregory.”

Gregory ended the ensuing drive with a 7-yard sack of Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason.

Contact the writer: Steve Beideck

stevebeideck63@gmail.com    |   402-618-4113    |  

Steve is a correspondent for The Omaha World-Herald and covers the Omaha Lancers and high school sports.

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