For someone who likes structure, this year’s season opener in Ireland has been a challenge for Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson.
The first game required a six-hour, 3,921-mile trans-Atlantic flight and a change of five time zones to reach Dublin. The question of how to keep his players fresh — and still allow them a chance to experience the culture of Ireland — has been difficult to answer.
“I don’t know if there’s a set answer for that,” Johnson said.
Georgia Tech left Wednesday after practice. They arrived at 8 a.m. local time Thursday, went to the hotel to check in and had a light practice session. Johnson wanted to keep them up until around 8 p.m. and get up Friday morning for another practice.
“I’m sure we’ll be tired and get up the next morning and try to be on that same time frame,” Johnson said earlier this week. “That’s all I know to do. I wasn’t trying to go over there and try to spend a week or extra days. Both teams have to do it, so you just go play.”
Boston College left a day earlier. Georgia Tech was given that option by the organizers of the game but chose to leave Wednesday.
Boston College head coach Steve Addazio said, “Flew through the night. Hope by the time game time rolls around we’ve got ourselves on track. But you never know. That’s the unknown.”
Johnson said the game was never meant to be a pleasure cruise. But he realizes that more than 70 of the players had to obtain a passport and had never been out of the United States and that this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many of them.
“We’ve got a couple things planned,” Johnson said. “We just have to try to find a balance.”
The team had a local group coming in after practice Thursday to do some Gaelic games and will go to local fishing village for a host-organized function. After practice Friday, they will take a bus tour of Dublin, but Johnson will try to keep the players off their feet.
Johnson said the 7:30 a.m starting time shouldn’t be a factor.
“We’re used to playing at 7:30 in the morning here,” Johnson said. “We do that on our Saturday morning scrimmages. That’s when we have them is early in the morning on Saturdays. At least our kids have that for several years, so that won’t be new for them.”
No starting QB announcement for BC
Boston College practiced in Dublin on Wednesday, but Addazio still has not named the starting quarterback. It comes down to Darius Wade or Patrick Towles, a graduate senior who started the past two seasons at Kentucky. Towles is expected to start, but Addazio is keeping the decision close to his vest.
“I would say I wouldn’t expect two to play,” he said. “We’re going to have a starter here. Quite frankly, we have one right now. I’m just in a situation where I feel it’s best right now that we’re not naming our starter. That’s really all there is to that.”