Nittany Lions Land In Dublin And Now It's Time To Work
Blue and White balloons, Penn State t-shirts, a stiff chilly breeze with a sprinkle or two in the mix.
If you didn't know any better, Wednesday could have just been another day at the ranch for the Nittany Lions.
But as the groggy-eyed players and baggy-faced coaches made their way through airport security, it was clear that an overnight flight into Dublin, Ireland takes a lot of the familiarity and comfort out of the equation.
"Don't stick that microphone too close to my face because I haven't brushed my teeth this morning," Franklin said, somehow as energetic as usual.
From the moment the team arrived in Dublin, finding that comfort and recharging energy banks has been a key focus. The Nittany Lions headed from the airport -- after over an hour going through customs -- straight to Croke Park to get a look for their new surroundings inside a city bustling with energy.
After a quick look around the new stadium the focus will be to simply keep players awake and busy until an evening walkthrough practice at the University of Dublin just outside of Dublin proper. It's a change of pace, one of the few Franklin has made, but a necessary one for the big picture of the week.
"We've done a lot of work ahead of time," Franklin said about getting the team ready to take on UCF. "I think this summer has been helpful. I think having this coaching staff together for four years has really helped us. I think the administration has been great."
"Tuesdays are usually work days for us," Franklin said. "Normally we would go after it pretty good on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but we're not going to be able to do that here. Today we'll use the same practice schedule as usual but we'll do walk through tempos instead."
"We try and keep the routine as consistent as we possibly can."
And that's going to be key for Penn State not only this week but next week as well when the Nittany Lions return home to take on Akron after a week abroad. They'll still be dealing with sleep schedules and energy levels -- and they'll be adding classes to the mix. So the more consistency Penn State can find during a period of ever-changing schedules the less those things can impact the team.
For James Franklin there are no obstacles.
"We're going to have the best practice we've ever had today." Franklin said
Judging by the clouds and wind outside downtown Dublin though, Franklin won't have the best practice weather he has ever had.
Keep track of Ben Jones as he navigates Dublin by reading his Penn State Football/Ireland Travel Blog.