Yellow Jackets Coach Paul Johnson is going into the Georgia Tech opener against Boston College on Saturday with a bit of an advantage, having coached in Ireland before; though, that doesn’t mean he has any more of a favorable position in the college football betting lines.
The Ireland game will mark the Yellow Jacket’s first game outside the United States. Johnson’s experience coaching in Ireland came when Navy played Notre Dame in Dublin.
This was during Johnson’s days as Navy’s offensive coordinator in 1996, and back then, Notre Dame was considered to be the underdog in a game where fans couldn’t perceive the notion of such a tiny school playing the whole Navy.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Opener is coming earlier than Johnson might have preferred, availing him no options for a dress rehearsal game.
The disappointing 3-9 seasons in 2015 have given Georgia Tech and Boston College every reason to strive for victory this time round.
And if Johnson was hoping to kick the 2016 season off with a bang, the possibility of jet lag might debilitate his team’s ability to perform optimally. Georgia Tech will begin their journey to Dublin on Wednesday after the final practice of the week.
They should reach Ireland by Thursday morning. Lawrence Austen (Strong Safety) said on Monday that he hoped the bus to the airport would give him ample time to sleep. Johnson hopes that the team can include lunch, practice, and dinner, possibly even a movie into their Thursday schedule, this along with sleep.
There is no really effective method of combating jet lag, not for the whole team. The best that Johnson can do is to ensure that his team adjusts to their schedule before the Friday light practice and Saturday Game.
Whatever he does, the travel situation is going to take some toll on his team, no matter how small. Johnson has a lot of experience as an offensive coordinator, and the eight years he spent fulfilling the role in Hawaii could help him adequately prepare his team for the Ireland game.
Johnson fondly remembers the many road games he was part of during those years (1987-1994), many of which required eight or nine hours of travel. He has a strong knowledge base to lean on, this along with the assistance his colleagues can offer.
Ted Roof (defensive coordinator) grimly remembers Duke’s game against Clemson in Tokyo back in 1991. At the time, Roof was the Blue Devil’s linebackers coach and he remembers the team donning formal wear (coats and ties) during the Atlanta to Anchorage to Tokyo flights.
After the grueling 22-hour trip, the team that walked into the hotel was noticeable worn. Compared to that situation, as far as Roof is concerned, his team’s night long flight is a far easier ordeal to endure.
Dublin’s Aviva Stadium typically hosts rugby and soccer matches, and it normally receives teams from all over the world with far worse travel stories. It should also be noted that 80 of Johnson’s players have never left the United States, which means the idea of traveling to Ireland for the game elicits more excitement that dread.