LOS ANGELES ― It was a long first day at the Rose Bowl for the Georgia Bulldogs.
It began early Wednesday morning with meetings at the Intercontinental Downtown, their team hotel. It continued with practices at the StubHub Center, home of the Los Angeles Chargers. And it went on thereafter with a full day at Disney California Adventure Park, about 30 miles away in Anaheim. That was followed in the evening by dinner, more meetings and then free time.
The Bulldogs picked up Wednesday at practice from where they left off in Athens before briefly adjourning for the Christmas break on Dec. 23.
“We kind of had a model of four or five ‘camp practices,’ and then we had four or five Oklahoma practices,” coach Kirby Smart said during interviews at the park Wednesday. “We did basically a game week there [in Athens], then we’re repeating that game week here after the three days that we had off.”
He said the Bulldogs have not incurred any new injuries since last week and are “pretty healthy” heading into the Rose Bowl matchup Monday against the Sooners.
Happy birthday, Nick
Georgia’s Nick Chubb turned 22 on Wednesday. And as far as he knows, there were no celebrations planned.
“Unless somebody surprises me, I don’t think so,” Chubb said.
Chubb was among the Bulldogs’ four captains made available for interviews Wednesday at Disney’s California Adventure Park.
“I’ve been to practice, then I came here, and now I’m here talking to you guys instead of riding rides,” Chubb said.
Chubb, a senior from Cedartown, Ga., stands as the No. 2 rusher in SEC history with 4,599 career yards and 42 touchdowns. That trails only Herschel Walker.
After being introduced at the Rose Bowl welcoming ceremony at California Adventure on Wednesday, the first act of the Bulldogs was being offered an exclusive ride on the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! attraction.
All the players were raving about it. All except for Sony Michel.
“He kind of chickened out on us,” Chubb said.
Michel insisted later that he was not scared of amusement park rides; he just thought that particular one was “too crazy for me.” He said he’d be riding others.
Chubb wasn’t buying it.
“We’ll see,” he said of his roommate. “He said he’s riding everything else. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Notably absent from the festivities on Wednesday was Oklahoma’s ballyhooed quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The Sooners’ Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was scheduled to appear with three co-captains at California Adventure. He didn’t show.
Coach Lincoln Riley said only that Mayfield was sick but didn’t elaborate. He said Mayfield was with the team when it practiced Wednesday morning.
“He’s gonna live,” he quipped.
Other Oklahoma players intimated that Mayfield had a cold.
Whatever the case, everybody expects Mayfield to play on Monday. In the meantime, the Sooners made sure to tweet a photo of Mayfield throwing a ball at practice Wednesday morning.
All present and accounted for
Smart said all players who were expected to accompany the team to California were present and accounted for. He didn’t elaborate as to who that was or wasn’t.
Obviously, Natrez Patrick was not here. The junior linebacker is in a substance abuse treatment center in Georgia following a violation of his probation for a marijuana arrest and will not participate in the Rose Bowl. Junior receiver Jayson Stanley also was expected to miss the bowl game following his post-SEC Championship Game arrest on DUI charges.
The Bulldogs’ practice Wednesday was closed, as was Oklahoma’s. Fifteen minutes will be open to media Thursday.