Postcard from Orlando: This place takes its toll on you

semerson@macon.comDecember 30, 2012 

ORLANDO - The other night, myself and two fellow scribes attempted to enjoy a dinner after a long day of paying tolls to the great state of Florida. The first establishment we tried had a 30-minute wait, so we went next door, to a second establishment I won't name, because this story would not reflect well on it.

Ten minutes after seating, our server deigned to come meet us. We immediately ordered our dinners, because we were that hungry. About five minutes later, the server came up to one of my colleagues.

"We're out of the chicken," he said.

That's all he said. Not: "Sorry, we're out of the chicken sir, would you like something else?"

Again, he just said: "We're out of the chicken."

My colleague, understandably annoyed to death, just left and ate somewhere else. He left the two of us to eat our rather mediocre meal, and dream of being back in Athens.

Where they don't toll you to death.

Every time you leave the hotel in Orlando, you get gouged by the toll booths. It comes gradually: A buck at this toll, a buck-25 at this one, a buck-50 at another. But when you add it up, I'm pretty sure the fiscal cliff could be solved by simply emptying the change machine at a few Florida toll booths.

This would all be worth it if there were no traffic in Orlando. ... There is traffic in Orlando. Speaking of which, if you're a fan planning on trying to go to one of the outlet malls down here, I can't emphasize this enough: Do not attempt this. Run away. Run very fast away.

They talk about the bowl experience, and from what I can see and gather, it is wonderful for the players. But for the reporters it's still work.

Speaking of which, let's get to some football:

Abry Jones not a sure thing

Senior defensive end Abry Jones, attempting to return for one more game, is now a game-time decision. At least that was the indication from Mark Richt, who wasn't too confident about Jones being able to play, and if so how much.

“I don’t know how much he’ll go," Richt said. "I wouldn't say he's just flying right now. He's been working really hard to get back to where he can play. But just kind of condition he's in and how quickly he can move. We don't wanna put him out there if he's really not ready to play full-speed, Georgia football. So I'm not 100 percent sure how much he will play."

Richt wasn't even ready to say Jones would play at all.

"A lot of it has to do with how he'll feel here in the next couple days," Richt said. "Pregame warmup might even make a determination on that."

Jarvis Jones looking out for No. 1

Junior linebacker Jarvis Jones, the native of Columbus, was asked the other day who was the last player from the state of Georgia to be the No. 1 overall pick. It was a trivia question for which Jones didn't know the answer.

"I mean I know about (Matt) Stafford, but the last No. 1 from Georgia," Jones said.

No reporters knew the answer off-hand either.

"You find out for me," Jones said.

Could Jones end up being the answer to the question?

"I hope so," he said. "If I decide to come out I'm gonna train to be No. 1. I'm not gonna train to be in the top 10 or the top five. I'm gonna train to be the No. 1 draft pick."

Playful ribbing among teammates

As we mentioned, at least the players are having a lot of fun. They went to Disney World on Saturday night, with many players hitting Space Mountain. But freshman linebacker Jordan Jenkins said he skipped the roller coaster because it was too cold.

"I just said forget it, I'll just get my funnel cake and leave," Jenkins said.

The trip to Sea World to see Shamu the killer whale led to some playful comments towards bigger players, including 355-pound nose tackle Kwame Geathers.

"I remember (James) Deloach said Kwame went to Sea World to go see his cousin," Jenkins said, laughing. "But just all the fun times we're having together, we all just had a blast. Everybody's talking and messing with each other on the bus, just making that bus ride home. Everybody hated waking up in the morning and coming here (to practice)."

Corn Dawgs update

Richt's extended family in Nebraska is set to arrive in town for the game soon. Richt was born in Omaha, but moved to Colorado and eventually to south Florida as a teenager. Many of his family members remained in Nebraska, and ever since Richt was hired at Georgia, have given themselves the "Corn Dawgs" moniker.

"All the Corn Dawgs are coming in town, man," Richt said on Sunday.

Up until now, they haven't had to pick a side between Georgia and Nebraska. That changes on Tuesday. Richt had no idea who they'd root for.

"Well you gotta ask them. I don't know," Richt said. "It's easy to cheer for both teams until they play each other."

Murray family visits practice

Guests at Sunday's practice included Aaron Murray's family, including brother Josh, the former Georgia walk-on safety. Chris Weinke, the former Florida State quarterback who played for Richt at FSU, was also expected.

Brad Johnson, another former Florida State quarterback, was at practice earlier in the week. Johnson is Richt's brother-in-law and lives in Athens.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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