Postcard from Jacksonville: Where are all the jorts?

semerson@macon.comDecember 27, 2013 

The logo for the Gator Bowl.

GATOR BOWL

JACKSONVILLE - It was a strange and new feeling to see the football stadium in Jacksonville in Friday while sitting in a vehicle that was moving faster than 5 mph.

Or moving at all, for that matter.

It was just as surreal to walk the grounds around EverBank Field and not be surrounded by masses of Georgia and Florida fans. Or to be able to see the ground, rather than it be soaked by beer and urine. No Florida fans in jorts. No Georgia fans barking at each other. There were even reports, unconfirmed, that nobody was arrested at The Landing last night.

I've been coming to Jacksonville for years now, but always for that weekend in late October and early November. This time around is very different. As it turns out there's actually a city here the other 51 weekends of the year. You can drive over the bridge at regular speed. You can go lots of places at regular speed.

Have I mentioned there's no traffic?

Because there isn't. And I'm happy about that.

Even when gameday rolls around next week the atmosphere around the stadium will be more restrained. It won't be a sellout, for one. The traffic jams may be fewer, and so might the tailgates.

It's also colder than Georgia-Florida weekend. We didn't luck out with the weather this week, with it staying in the 50s today, and while it might hit 70 this weekend it's also supposed to rain.

Look at me, going all Mark Richt with the weather.

Anyway, it was cold today as the Georgia football team held its second practice. The team is practicing at Jacksonville University, on a turf field in a small stadium. Most high school stadiums in south Georgia are bigger.

The winner of the day was the local television cameraman who inexplicably showed up at Georgia's practice wearing Alabama gear. It's one thing to throw on the hat of an SEC rival as you're leaving the house. It's another thing to be wearing the hat and a shirt that says ALABAMA.

Mark Richt noticed it as interviews started.

"I'm glad you wore that Atlanta Falcon hat today," Richt cracked sarcastically.

Some other notes, football-related and otherwise, from Friday:

- Richt was pretty frank when asked whether Todd Gurley is close to 100 percent yet, after battling a strained quad and then a sprained ankle.

"I would say he's not where he was the first time he gallopped down the field that first time in the Clemson game," Richt said, citing the touchdown run in which Gurley hurt his quad. "Remember that vision, that look? I don't think he's there. I don't think he's 100 percent. But he's playing."

- Tight end Jay Rome came to the practice field in crutches, and was wearing a very gaudy cast on his right foot. Actually it covered more than the foot, going up to the knee. Rome had surgery two weeks ago and is obviously out for the bowl, and at this point is probably doubtful for spring practice.

- Former offensive line coach Neil Callaway was in attendance for the practice. Callaway, who stepped down at UAB after the 2011 season, spent this past season as the offensive line coach at Western Kentucky. Current Georgia line coach Will Friend served under Callaway at UAB.

- Mark Richt again declined to address the suspensions of Josh Harvey-Clemons and Sheldon Dawson, giving the same basic answer he did the previous day.

"I'm not shedding any light on that. I'm gonna talk about the cats we've got here," he said.

- Nebraska will be without a key defensive player as well.

Defensive end Avery Moss did not make the trip because of what Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said was a personal issue. Moss, a redshirt freshman, had 16 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, a sack and a forced fumble this year. He also returned an interception for a touchdown.

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