UCF will venture out for practice this week as the Knights prepare for a Week 2 college football matchup against the Boise State Broncos. It’s not that anything is wrong with the practice field in Orlando, it’s that spending a day a local high school will better help them to prepare for their trip to Idaho.
How? Because the field is not green.
Boise State became the first college football program with a non-green field when it installed its famous ‘Smurf turf’ in 1986. The gridiron was surrounded by an orange track, so the blue turf matched perfectly with the university’s color scheme.
Now, more than 30 years later, it is the most famous field in football. Not the environment, not the stadium — just the actual field.
In fact, the Broncos own the copyright to “non-green turf” fields in college football. So any time that a program wants to install colored turf, it must go through Boise first.
There will never be another college football team with a blue field.
— Boise State Football (@BroncoSportsFB) August 9, 2023
UCF is preparing for the Smurf turf.
Central Florida’s trip out West will be one of the school’s longest road trips in school history. Head coach Gus Malzahn was asked about the logistical challenges of the Boise State matchup during his press conference on Monday and spoke to how he is trying to keep routine despite the 5+ hour flight.
In addition, Malzahn revealed that the Knights will practice about 15 minutes away from campus in Oviedo, Fla. at The Master’s Academy, a K-12 Christian school. The Eagles play on a blue turf field and the shade of blue is right in line with that of the Broncos.
Malzahn hopes that the day at Master’s will help get his team acclimated.
“We have a couple guys on our team that played there, a couple coaches,” Malzahn said. “It’s a new deal. You’re not used to it. But at the end of the day you have to play football.”
Oregon State famously painted its practice field blue in 2010 before its matchup with Boise State. Other teams have tried similar approaches. Rarely do they work.
Safety Quadric Bullard is excited to play on a non-green field, though he knows the challenges.
“It will be a first time for me and it will help us get adjusted to it,” Bullard said. “I’ve seen a couple videos where teams will actually hide their players in the end zone with blue fields and things like that, so we have to be prepared for it. You never know Boise might pull it out. They are coming off a loss so all tricks (are possible). It will help us a lot to practice on one and get reps on a blue field.”
Offensive lineman Tylan Grable shared similar sentiments.
“Growing up always watching college football and I always thought it was interesting seeing a blue field,” he said. “I never would have thought I’d be going to play on it now, but at the end of the day it’s football and to me it’s a mindset thing. Once you get out there, it’s football.”
Boise State averages less than one home loss per season over the last two+ decades. Perhaps UCF’s off-campus practice will help it to break through and get the dub?