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Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Dublin Dispatch I: The Sleep Struggle Is Real (But Will Be Fine)

August 24, 2022

DUBLIN –– The weather at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Wednesday felt most like a late September Saturday in the States. It was about 68 degrees, pleasantly cool if you’ve been in the mostly scorching U.S. lately, mostly cloudy.

Nebraska held its first practice since arriving in Ireland on Tuesday, and it wasn’t a short workout. The Huskers started shortly after 1 p.m. local time and didn’t arrive for post-practice interviews until after 4 p.m.

But it went well according to redshirt freshman running back Gabe Ervin Jr.

“Practice was smooth, crisp. Everything was sharp on the details and that’s what we need.”

If so, that might be a good development because the jet lag following the Huskers’ Omaha-to-Dublin trek was a frequent topic Wednesday.

“It’s still a process,” linebacker Luke Reimer said. “I still want a full night’s rest. The previous night, about four hours was the best you could get. It was a tough flight, but they’ve got to do it, too.”

Northwestern arrived Wednesday morning, holding a walkthrough at the practice field next to Aviva Stadium before moving into full-practice mode on Thursday. The Wildcats, who do not play next week, are staying over an extra day so players can sightsee on their own or with their families.

Pat Fitzgerald said Northwestern will be hosting a team dinner at the hotel after Saturday’s game for the team and family members in attendance––food for nearly 600 people, and maybe not until around 10 p.m. local––so the family aspect of this trip appears to be big with Chicago’s Big Ten Team.

But, also, tip of the hat to the catering team that took that assignment on.

On to some other news, notes, stray quotes and observations from on the ground in Dublin.

>>The “tough flight” Reimer mentioned? It was probably tougher on some than others. A source said Nebraska put some its key playmakers in business class on the charter flight over. It pays to make plays.

>>I won’t get into any guesses for the actual fan count in the stadium on Saturday, but those in red are definitely outpacing those in purple based on my first 12 hours in Dublin.

>>This isn’t Whipple’s first trip to Ireland. He said he traveled here about four years ago to play golf. Not this time, though.

“No, no, no golf. Good place, though.”

No Guinness either.

“I’ve been too tired,” Whipple said. “I drank enough it four years ago to hold over for this trip. Have one for me.”

>>And so I did. It really does taste better here. I’m kind of opposed to the idea of that idea, but upon resampling Guinness here for the first time in 20 years, it’s just true. Might be a temperature thing. Might be an ambience thing.

Whatever it is, I had one––for this column, for Whipple––and it was an incredibly enjoyable experience.

>>Nebraska’s assistant coaches in the box will have a slightly different view of the action on Saturday. Due to Aviva Stadium’s layout, which has an open-air press box spanning the middle of the field, the coaches’ box sits closer to the 10-yard line, maybe the goal line.

“I went up there today,” defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said. “Little different being all the way down in the end zone. You’ve got a decent view of the field, but it’s not like being in the middle like we usually are. It’s always a challenge every week, but it’ll be a different challenge.”

And that last line is as fitting a description of playing an American college football game in Ireland as you’ll find, so we won’t try to beat it by continuing on.

Though if you’d like to watch Erin Sorensen and me gesture at said box, here that is.

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