ORLANDO, Fla. - Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings didn't seem overly concerned Saturday by the comments made by Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez regarding the Bulldogs' defense.
On Friday, Martinez told reporters at the Cornhuskers' practice that he thought the BigTen was as strong as the SEC defense wise and that in his opinion, nothing really stands out about Georgia from a defensive standpoint.
"Nothing really," Martinez told HuskerOnline.com "It's just another typical Big Ten defense. If we just go out there and play, we'll be perfectly fine."
So, will they?
"He can talk whatever he wants to talk," Commings said. "We'll just handle it on the field."
Although it did not appear Martinez was trying to be offensive, the Bulldog senior said he and his teammates will look for any sort of edge it can get.
"Anytime we've been challenged we've risen to the occasion," Commings said. "Here's another opportunity to do that."
Bulldog defensive end Garrison Smith had his own take on what Martinez had to say.
"If defenses in the Big Ten are pretty good, I can see why he made his comment," Smith smiled.
Conley itching to play
Of all the Bulldogs, sophomore wide receiver Chris Conley may be the most anxious to get Tuesday's Capital One Bowl underway.
It was Conley who caught the tipped pass in the SEC title game as time ran out on the Bulldogs against Alabama.
"For sure, there's so many things that you think about," Conley said. "You don't want to relive plays, but I'm looking at this as a great opportunity to move forward and play more football."
But it's not just about what happened one month ago at the Georgia Dome.
With Tavarres King and Marlon Brown graduating, Conley's role as a backup is about to change in a big way.
"There's going to be tremendous expectations. I've already talked to those guys (King and Brown) and they've let me know that I'm about to be the guy," Conley said. "It's crazy to think I'm where I'm at and there's a lot of expectation, although there's a lot of preparation that will have to go along with it."
However, knowing that players such as King have confidence that he can, Conley says he's ready to take that next step.
"It's meant a ton. It's great to know that your fan base supports you and the team and that kind of thing really pushes you in practice to give all you've got," he said. "I'm just glad to know that those guys believe in me and trust in me."
Several youngsters stepping up
A couple of weeks ago, head coach Mark Richt expressed concern that some of his young players in position to earn significant playing time next fall were taking their status for granted.
That's apparently not the case with redshirt freshman receiver Justin Scott-Wesley and freshman cornerback Sheldon Dawson.
"I was talking to Justin yesterday and I told him I was proud of him for how he's worked all season. He's gotten better," Richt said. "Sheldon Dawson has had a really good bowl practice so far. Corey Moore has picked things up, but I think sometimes they'll look around and see all the veterans leaving and think well, 'I'm the guy, I'm it' when in reality they've still got to earn it."
Richt admitted, however that he understands why players like Moore can sometimes have a difficult time.
"I do think some guys do a better job of preparing during that time when they may not be getting that playing time, while some have the hardest time working as hard as they can when there's not a pay day at the end of the week," Richt said. "It's hard to work hard all week when you don't play much. But as they mature and their opportunity shows up, they tend to pick up the pace."
Richt hopes defensive end Ray Drew will be included in that group.
"He needs to. It's time for him to step up and be a great player for us. He's in the same boat as those DBs. All of them, no one's got a job out there," Richt said. "There are some guys who have played enough where they're going to play, we understand that but there's going to be a lot of starting positions up for that. Ray needs to be a guy that plays better for us."
This and that
Richt said he's proud of the way Marlon Brown has handled his situation after tearing his ACL against Ole Miss. "I talked to him not long after it happened and I expected a guy who would be in the tank but he's a mature man, now. He knows that things happen and it's not so much what happens to you but how you handle it. He's handled it very well. Ron (Courson) said he's handled his rehab very well, and we don't think there's any doubt that he'll be back completely healthy, get drafted and have a chance to play NFL football. "
Only two more practices remain for Georgia until Tuesday's Capital One Bowl, but Richt said he would just as soon kick off today. "I'd have more fun if the day was today or tomorrow. After a while, it's like let's just play this thing. You're in practice 13 and 14 in the game plan, we've been here having a good time but after a while, let's just play. I'd be all for practicing for three days, play and hang out another three days afterwards to really enjoy the thing."
Offensive line coach Will Friend said Saturday that junior Kenarious Gates would start at left tackle against the Cornhuskers, although Mark Beard would see action as well.