BOWL NOTEBOOK: Nittany Lions. Bulldogs Continue Game Preparations

By MIKE BONTS
Jacksonville SportsDay
Both Penn State and Georgia continued to prepare for their Saturday meeting in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville.

Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper 70s, Georgia resumed practice Monday.

The Bulldogs worked out in jerseys, shoulder pads, helmets and shorts on the campus of the University of North Florida. Georgia interim head coach Bryan McClendon confirmed that senior fullback Quayvon Hicks would miss the TaxSlayer Bowl game due to an injury.

“Quayvon will not play in the bowl game; he has a lot to look forward to as he moves on, and you hate to see a senior not get to play in his final game because of an injury,” McClendon said.

With Hicks out, Georgia’s depth at fullback will consists of sophomore Christian Payne and redshirt sophomore Glenn Welch. Hicks had appeared in all 12 games with three starts. 

Payne has played in seven games this year with no starts while Welch has appeared in 11 games with no starts.

The Bulldogs are looking to win 10 games in a season for the 22nd time in school history. Additionally, the senior class enters the game with a 39-13 record.

“The seniors are extremely important to this program; any program you need good leadership period,” McClendon added. “Our guys have done an extremely good job this year. The opportunity to get 40 wins in a career and a 10-win season that is huge for them.”

Georgia is making its 51st appearance in a bowl game when it faces the Nittany Lions. The Bulldogs are playing in a bowl game for a school record 19th consecutive season.
Penn State held their media day on campus.

“The bowl game is a tremendous opportunity to play a storied program in the University of Georgia. I was very impressed with Coach McClendon in the time that I had to spend with him,” said Penn State head coach James Franklin.

At media day at Penn State Franklin said it was going to be great having some of their guys back.

“Obviously, we missed (defensive end) Carl Nassib at the end of the year. He really didn't play the last three games of the year, so we're excited about the opportunity to having him back,” Franklin said,  

Franklin called Georgia a talented team.

“They have the No. 1 pass defense in the country. Offensively, they are big and physical,” Franklin said at media day. “Wide receiver, Isaiah McKenzie, has been electric returner, so that's going to be a real focus for us the next week and a half, trying to contain him.”

SHERRER, ROCKER TO BE RETAINED - Georgia assistant coaches Tracy Rocker and Kevin Sherrer will be retained on the UGA football staff according to an announcement by Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart. Rocker coaches’ defensive line while Sherrer handles the outside linebackers and Star position. They both joined the Georgia staff in 2014.

MCCLENDON JOINS MUSCHAMP – New University of South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp announced that Bryan McClendon will become co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. A former wide receiver at UGA, McClendon held several titles during the 2015 regular season, including wide receivers coach, assistant head coach and passing game coordinator. He was named interim head coach after Mark Richt left and will serve in that capacity through Georgia’s appearance in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

MORE HONORS FOR NASSIB – Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib capped off his All-America selections with a unanimous selection to the NCAA’s consensus All-America team. Nassib leads FBS in sacks (15.5) and forced fumbles (6) and is second in FBS and first in the Big Ten in tackles for loss (19.5).

The TaxSlayer Bowl will kick off at noon on ESPN on Saturday, Jan. 2. The broadcast team will feature Allan Bestwick (play-by-play), Dan Hawkins (analyst) and Tiffany Greene (sidelines).

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