provo • Within the past two weeks, BYU suffered a huge loss to Iowa State and nearly defeated the No. 14 team in the country.
In the middle was 100 yards of chewed up grass at Lavelle Edwards Stadium.
“During the warmup, players can feel a little bit (how slippery) it is,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said after his team’s loss to Iowa State. “It probably had to do with the confidence we played with. But I don’t want to give it too much of a factor.
The combination of wet turf and the age of the field made the Cougars’ playing surface an issue for teams as the season continued. As players struggled to keep their feet, the field became a talking point during ESPN’s broadcast of the Oklahoma game.
BYU hopes there won’t be a conversation next year. The university will replace the current playing surface with a new field before next season. This will be the first time the playing surface at Lavelle Edwards Stadium has been replaced since 2011.
“By removing the old turf, leveling the field again and adding the new turf, we expect the field to perform very well next season,” said John McBride, BYU athletics spokesman.
BYU’s turf field is typically replaced every eight to 12 years. BYU was planning the field at the end of this season, and the timeline has not been accelerated due to poor playing conditions this season, McBride said.
BYU will stick with the same turf — Kentucky bluegrass — that is currently in use at Lavelle Edwards Stadium. Many cold-weather outdoor stadiums use it, including Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, and Actress Stadium, where the Pittsburgh Steelers play.
BYU’s field became an issue earlier this month when players said they couldn’t find their footing during the Iowa State game. It has become such a big problem that some players have had to change to studded cleats instead of the molded cleats that many players usually use.
“Our field is naturally slippery,” Isaac Ricks said. “I’ve got these built-in studs in my cleats that helped me a lot (against Iowa State). I feel like everyone needs to have those on our field.
Sitake was reluctant to blame the team’s performance on the slippage problems, but admitted that “there was a lot of slippage.” After the Iowa State game, he said the players slipped because they were in bad positions to play. After watching the film, he said the industry had a lot to do with it.
“I say posture because I believe good athletes don’t slip,” he said. “But we had a lot of good athletes. So we’ll figure it out. Between the surface and the shoes, there are answers there. Nike is a great brand, and they have a lot of shoes (cleats) that we can work with.”
With different cleats on Saturday, though, the Cougars and Sooners still struggled on the slippery field. Most notably, there was a play in the third quarter when quarterback Jake Retzlaff threw a ball to receiver Cody Epps looking for a first down. Epps was open but fell and the ball was nearly intercepted.