Give Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez credit. He is supremely confident.
“If we play the way we’re capable of playing, we can play with anyone in the country,” he said following the Huskers’ practice on Tuesday.
Georgia has the talent to test that theory. There are currently 11 members of the Bulldogs’ defense ranked on NFLDraftScout.com’s 2013 NFL prospect rankings. It looks like the most talented defense Nebraska has faced this year. Surely that must have the Huskers’ attention.
“They’re like any other Big Ten defense,” Martinez said. “Big Ten defenses are the best in the country and we’re going up against a good Georgia defense so we’ve just got to look at it like that.”
The Bulldogs defense is lead by linebacker Jarvis Jones. He’s one of two players in the country along with Alabama center Barrett Jones to be named a first team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in both 2011 and 2012. He’s fourth nationally with 12.5 sacks. Judging from the NFL scouts, Jones singlehandedly makes superlatives necessary but Martinez isn’t approaching it that way.
“He’s just another football player out there,” Martinez said. “It’s not that big of a deal. That’s the way you have to look at it.”
The junior quarterback said it took him two or three days to get over the 70-31 Big Ten championship game loss to Wisconsin, a game he described as “off and on” for the offense. But the Capital One Bowl, against a team that was maybe one play away from playing for the national title, represents a shot at redemption.
“We treat this like the Rose Bowl game we should’ve gone to,” Martinez said. “I’m still frustrated about that.”
Some other news and notes from Nebraska’s Tuesday practice:
–Running back Rex Burkhead is practicing without the knee brace he had to wear for the last two-thirds of the season and offensive coordinator Tim Beck has noticed a difference.
“It is great to see him back out here having fun,” Beck said. “The injury was something on the back of his mind, now he is a lot more carefree, I am really happy for him.”
–The Huskers are just now getting into full game-prep mode defensive coordinator John Papuchis said on Tuesday.
“We had two weeks where we just went good-on-good and got after some of the basics and worked out some of the younger guys,” he said. “This week has been all about Georgia.”
Nebraska will practice on Wednesday and Thursday before breaking for Christmas.
–Graduate assistant Vince Marrow was at practice on Tuesday despite accepting a job at Kentucky last week. Beck said Marrow hopes to coach in the Capital One Bowl.
–Georgia enters the game averaging nearly 7 yards per play offensively (fourth nationally) and defensive coordinator John Papuchis said its the Bulldogs’ physical run game that really sticks out on film.
“The physicality of the run game is probably similar to that of Michigan State,” Papuchis said, adding that Georgia’s passing game uses route concepts similar to what the Spartans used this season.