DUBLIN -- Penn State is in the home stretch of its preparations for Saturday's season-opener against UCF at Croke Park here Saturday. While it will be new coach James Franklin's first game with the Nittany Lions, he insists he is not nervous.
Every day it gets closer, there's more anticipation, there's no doubt about it, Franklin said after practice at University College of Dublin Thursday. But I'm not a guy who starts getting excited until the morning of the game. There's still things from today that we've got to get cleaned up that are on our mind, and until those things are done, that's where my focus is.
Thursday was a chance for Penn State to ease back into normal game-week mode after traveling overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon featured only walk-through so as not to tax the athletes after their long flight.
On a sunny, breezy day Thursday, the Nittany Lions all seemed to have worked up a good sweat during the closed practice.
We got really good work done, Franklin said. We basically repeated yesterday's practice but went full speed. We got a lot of really good work done.
What remains now is mostly for the staff to smooth out any rough edges that remain. The schedule for the rest of the week is very straightforward, with an event at the famous Guinness Storehouse Thursday night and a tour of Dublin Friday.
Franklin's take on things as the game near?
I feel good about it, he said. We'll have a dinner tonight and kind of have a team function. Friday we'll have our normal walk-through and meetings. Then like normal we'll be at the hotel and have our offense, defense and special teams meetings. And then get up on Saturday and be ready to play.
Penn State will not do a walk-through at Croke Park. The Lions visited the facility Wednesday but did not practice there.
I like a controlled environment, so we don't typically walk-through other people's stadiums, Franklin said. I think the fact that we got to check out the stadium the other day was good enough.
There was serious wind blowing around the little UCD stadium field Thursday. When asked what concerns he had about wind at massive Croke Park Saturday, Franklin simply said, none.
Penn State fans can be spotted all over Dublin. Though Franklin has not exactly been out and about, he has heard all about it.
You play a game in Ireland, and you have a huge support of alumni and fans coming out to be with the guys, Franklin said. What makes Penn State is the people, and that's never gonna change. We plan on that only getting stronger from here on out.
The team practiced in helmets, pads and shorts.
After dressing for practice Wednesday, injured guard Miles Dieffenbach (ACL) was in gym clothes Thursday. He spent some time in the weight room with assistant strength coach Dwight Galt.
Receiver Matt Zanelatto did not practice Thursday and appears to be out for the game with an unspecified injury. He was in gym clothes and joked to reporters that he might as well have been wearing a light blue jersey (which is what many injured players do).