TAMPA — Next week's Outback Bowl against Michigan State is a proud homecoming for Georgia QB Aaron Murray, who went to high school at Plant and now finds himself as something of a team concierge.
"It's fun. All the guys ask me, 'What's to do, what's to do,' so I have to facilitate all that kind of stuff," Murray said Monday night after the teams enjoyed a Team Welcome dinner by the bowl's title sponsor at the A La Carte Pavilion. "But it's definitely exciting to stay home, to have a couple more days at home because I don't have to worry about traveling to and from the bowl site. I can't complain at all."
The team has a full week in Tampa to prepare for the Jan. 2 game against the Spartans, but Murray said much of the preparations are already in place from a schematic standpoint.
"We already have a great plan in. I think our guys know the plan. The whole offense, we had the gameplan in when we left Athens," he said. "Now it's a matter of reviewing, watching film and making sure you're 100 percent about what you have to do and what they do defensively."
FEELING BULLISH: Georgia coach Mark Richt was encouraged about the status of ILB Michael Gilliard, who injured his ankle in the SEC championship loss to LSU three weeks ago. Richt said Gilliard showed off his speed while on holiday break from the team, against unusual competition.
"I saw him. He said he ran away from a cow or a bull or something. I'm not lying," Richt said. "He's from the country. Somehow he got chased by a cow or a bull or something and he said he moved pretty good then."
STILL HERE: Spartans coach Mark Dantonio indicated fifth-year defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who reportedly interviewed for the head coaching job at Illinois this month, will stay put. Michigan State ranked first in the Big Ten in total defense (272.7 yards per game) this season.
THIS AND THAT: Georgia has its first practice this morning at the University of Tampa, while Michigan State had its first practice Monday afternoon at Jesuit High. … Richt said the Bulldogs had no academic casualties and will have every player available. … Dantonio said his only suspension will be long snapper Matt Giampapa due to an unspecified rules violation. One player he declined to name didn't travel due to eligibility issues.