Not much of a secret?
Boston College coach Steve Addazio said earlier in the week that he would not name his starting quarterback prior to the game, leaving some doubt about whether Patrick Towles, the graduate transfer from Kentucky, or Darius Wade would start.
“I’m just in a situation where I feel it’s best right now that we’re not naming our starter,” Addazio said on the ACC coaches teleconference Wednesday.
Asked about the matter Thursday upon the team’s arrival in Dublin, coach Paul Johnson was not particularly distressed.
“I think the whole world would be surprised if it’s not the kid from Kentucky, right?” he said.
I don’t get the sense that this is a game with much local interest. At Georgia Tech’s media availability on Thursday, the only media present were my colleague Jeff Schultz, a group of eager students from Westminster (who have accompanied the school’s football team, which was to play Friday) and myself. People whom Jeff and I have spoken with have indicated similarly.
The game suffers from less-than-ideal timing. The country’s rugby season starts Friday and the All-Ireland hurling championship (one of the biggest events on the Irish sports calendar) is Sunday. The Gaelic football All-Ireland championship is also coming soon. Further, soccer legend Robbie Keane played his last game for the national team on Wednesday.
From an attendance/interest perspective, it might have been better to schedule this game later but it would have been difficult from a number of perspectives.
One way the game will be different for coaches is that their headsets will need to be corded due to complications with using wireless communication. It has been a while since that mode of technology has been necessary. Johnson shared a story from the early days of the wireless technology.
“When the mobiles came out, you could get Burger King orders (through the headsets),” he said. “You could get anything on those things. I remember one time at Western Kentucky, when I was an assistant coach at Georgia Southern, I got their offensive plays.”
Johnson was asked when he informed Western Kentucky.
“Oh, right away,” he said. Then he either embellished or came clean.
“Once we got up about 35-0, we told ’em, ‘Hey, we can hear your calls,” he said.
After the team practiced, a group that shares Gaelic sports with visitors to Ireland came to demonstrates Gaelic football and hurling to the team. Johnson got a tutorial in hurling, which has elements of lacrosse, field hockey, baseball and rugby. Players carry a wooden stick and can advance the ball with something akin to a lacrosse cradle, and then bat it forward, as in baseball.
Johnson tried his hand, and showed moderate success.
“Alright,” he said, “I’ve mastered that.”
New in the booth
Saturday will be the first game behind the microphone for new Tech voice Andy Demetra. Among other things, it’s the first college football game he’ll have called since 2012. Demetra did basketball and baseball for South Carolina, but football was called by former Gamecocks quarterback Todd Ellis. Demetra called Gamecocks games for SportSouth (now Fox Sports Southeast) for broadcasts that were tape-delayed and edited down. Demetra said he did a play-by-play in his head as he watched scrimmages. He has also watched video of past games.
“You need to train your eyes to know where the ball is going,” he said.
No pressure or anything, but Brandon Gaudin (Elon, 2013, 70-0), Wes Durham (Furman, 1995, 51-7) and Al Ciraldo (Tulane, 1954, 28-0) all called Tech routs in their first broadcasts.
Also making his debut - Wiley Ballard, who will fill in for Randy Waters as a sideline reporter. Ballard, a Tech student, has called Jackets baseball games in recent seasons. Waters remained in the U.S. as he was calling the Falcons preseason game on Thursday.
Jason Bennett will call the game for ESPN2. Kelly Stouffer will be on color and Paul Carcaterra has sideline duties. ESPN brought a crew of between 25 to 30 for the game, close to the same number for a domestic broadcast.
Some of the camera and replay machine operators will be local, though, said producer Brian Boyle. They were to have a primer on American football on Thursday to help know what sort of shots to anticipate.
Bennett was the producer for the Central Florida-Penn State game in 2014 at Dublin’s Croke Park.
“The football field almost looked like a postage stamp,” he said. “Aviva, I don’t think it’s quite as large, but it’s larger than what we would have (in the U.S.).”
Bennett, who last week produced a North Dakota State game in Fargo, N.D., said the broadcast will aim to document the game but also reflect the surroundings and “hope that people walk away learning something new about Ireland.”
Bonus uniform item
Tech will wear white jerseys. I'm not positive about more than that, but I believe the uniforms will be the same or close to what the team wore last year, with a gold side panel and gold stripe around the sleeves.