DUBLIN -- Penn State coach James Franklin tried to pull off an interesting juggling act after the Nittany Lions' practice at University College Dublin Wednesday.
On one hand, he admitted to reporters that the team had experienced a “long” day. PSU took off from Harrisburg, Pa., the previous night, flew six-plus hours, and then embarked on a busy morning and afternoon in Dublin that included a tour of Croke Park, a bus ride to UCD and the practice.
All of this in advance of Saturday's season-opener against UCF at what locals call “Croker.”
“I'm not going to say it to (the players), but it's been a long day considering we got on that flight last night at 11:30 … or whatever it was … and they haven't been asleep today since we landed,” Franklin said. “So I'm very appreciative of how they've handled everything.”
Because of it, he thanked them after the walk-through practice.
On the other hand, however, he kept insisting that the players were not gassed. How insistent was he?
When one reporter suggested the players were tired, Franklin said, “No, they're not. They're not.”
He also said, “I think they're excited to play the game. We are not tired. They are not any of those words that you use.”
Franklin's goal, obviously, is to use a mind-over-matter approach with the players to help mitigate the effects of the long trip. He thinks planning will help, too.
“We're in great shape,” Franklin said. “We had a great plan coming over here. The plane was unbelievable. We got a bunch of rest on the plane coming over. We kept 'em up today to try to get adjusted to the clock as fast as we can. Get a great night's sleep tomorrow and we'll be raring and ready to go.”
The players made available to the press Wednesday seemed to be buying into it all.
“I don't think we're too tired right now,” linebacker Mike Hull said after practice. “Everyone got really good sleep on the plane. We've been going all day. Really no time to be tired and rest. We looked sharp today out at practice.”
Added cornerback Jordan Lucas, who had never left the United States before, “It wasn't as bad as I thought. The flight was pretty good, it was a smooth flight. I was asleep almost the whole time.”
Back to the juggling act, Franklin also said Wednesday's practice was limited to a walk-through because he could not have expected the Lions to be full go after the long trip. Following an 8 a.m. local wakeup call, Thursday will be a full day for the team, and will feature its only full-speed practice in Dublin prior to the game.
“They'll get a full night's sleep tonight,” Franklin said. “I would assume some guys will lay it down earlier than they normally would.”
Tired or not.