Huskers hold pep rally in Ireland as Frost prepares to let coaches shine
Mark Whipple, Eric Chinander stepping into larger roles on offense, defense plays
DUBLIN (WOWT) - As the countdown to Saturday’s kickoff moved from days to hours, Husker fans gathered for a pep rally to cheer their team in downtown Dublin.
The traditional sea of red filled Merrion Square, mixing the Nebraska and Irish cultures into one heading into the season opener abroad.
The site certainly made an impression on Head Coach Scott Frost.
“This is unbelievable — welcome to Nebraska east!” he said. “I know Travis said that we’ve been planning this game for a long time, put a lot of thought into it. I can’t believe how many of you showed up here. We can’t wait to put on a good show for you. Thank you for being here.”
It’s been a long off-season for the Huskers, and it is about to come to an end as Nebraska opens its football season Saturday in Ireland.
“I think everybody has been waiting for us to kick it in gear,” receiver Elliott Brown said. “Last year, we had our ups and downs. But now we’ve fixed the little things — we’re ready to go out and show everybody tomorrow.”
The Huskers’ 2022 season Week Zero matchup against Northwestern will happen on Aviva Field in Dublin with new players and new coaches — and fans are excited.
“We’re going to win! Go Huskers!” Laura Clements said. “It’s going to be a great time. I think it’s going to be electric in the stadium.”
The city has had a “Nebraska feel,” with so many fans making their way around town. And they all came together for a pep rally with the University of Nebraska marching band — and lots of cheers of “GO BIG RED!” — at Merrion Square Park in downtown Dublin.
“It’s very easy to get you people shouting,” said Padraic O’Kane, a promoter for the Aer Lingus Classic. “You just say ‘Go Big Red!’ — you are all welcome to Dublin! Please drink us dry and enjoy yourself for the next 48 hours.”
Husker fan Mike Eckert agreed there was a lot of great Nebraska energy there.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of fan support, hopefully. ... When the players mention they took care of the little details, that’s a great sign. They seem to have a real positive attitude,” he said.
Understandably, there’s been cautious optimism as we head into this opener against Northwestern. There’s a ton of intrigue for the Huskers as they open up the season here in Ireland.
FOCUS ON THE FIELD
No doubt, there is a lot of intrigue and unknown coming in into this opener. Will all the moves in the off-season pay off? It’s time to find out.
Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple will now be calling plays, and that is not a situation that Head Coach Scott Frost is looking forward to.
“It’s more concern — it’s something I haven’t done in a long time,” Frost said. “I’ve already thought a lot about the other things that I can add if I don’t have my head buried in a call sheet. It’ll be a different experience for me. Everybody else is going to be doing exactly what they’ve always done and what they’re good at. I’m going to trust that and help where I can with more than one phase.”
Frost will also be able to look at the defense when the Huskers have the ball; previously when he was calling plays, he could not do that. He can also help out Defensive Coordinator Eric Chinander, who will also be on the sidelines, and pitch in with clock management, though that hasn’t been an issue through the years.
But all of it will be new — it’s going to feel different, no question — and we’re looking forward to it in this very unique season opener inside this Ireland stadium.
If anything goes bad, how will the Huskers react? They were a confident team, a really close-knit team, but haven’t had any adversity yet. Up or down one or several touchdowns, the Huskers will need to be on the attack, their defense “dialed in.”
With football finally truly right around the corner, the Huskers are feeling a bit on edge — there’s a ton riding on this game. It’s not technically a must-win, but it really feels like one.
BIG WEEK AWAY
As the Huskers finally shift from preparing for the opener to actually playing the game, they’ve had a really good week here in Dublin. It started with a great dinner Tuesday, the day they arrived at Mansion House; then several tours throughout the town; and it ended with a pep rally in front of thousands of Nebraska fans at Merrion Square park.
“They saw some traditional Irish music some traditional Irish dancing,” Frost said. “I think some of the old coaches like me were the only ones that knew some of the lyrics to the songs; but they really got into it, enjoyed it. This is a tight-knit group I think they’re going to be there for each other all year and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
About 10,000 Nebraska fans are expected to be at Aviva Stadium rooting on their Huskers on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. Saturday; the game will air on Fox.
Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.
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