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Irish get first taste of Notre Dame Stadium’s new surface

Aug 11, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT

ND finished field

The Fighting Irish practiced on Monday inside Notre Dame Stadium, their first official workout on the team’s new playing surface. After following the transformation from natural grass to FieldTurf, getting inside a stadium that hasn’t been enough of a home-field advantage over the past few years was critical.

The decision to install FieldTurf has been discussed, debated, and beaten to a pulp. But when asked about the move on Saturday, head coach Brian Kelly made perfect sense when discussing the rationale.

“Simply for competitive reasons. We felt as though the surface did not at times allow us to play as fast as we needed to,” Kelly said. “If you’re working so hard to put your football team together and your surface at home is really not where it needs to be, you need to make the changes. That’s why, ultimately, we made the change.”

Gone are the days of growing the grass long when opponents like USC come to town. After significantly upgrading the athleticism on the roster over the past decade (give some of this credit to Charlie Weis), a slow and sloppy track did more to hold back Notre Dame than it did their opponents.

While it’s far from conclusive evidence,’s Lou Somogyi pointed out a few datapoints that likely were taken into consideration.

Interestingly, during the 12-0 regular season in 2012, Notre Dame averaged 29.0 points per its six games on the road but only 22.8 at home — and 20.2 in the regulation time of four quarters (it won two games in overtime, versus Stanford and Pitt). The only time it scored more than 20 points that season at home in regulation time was the 38-0 win over Wake Forest in game 11.

Last year Notre Dame’s six road games saw the Irish average 30.7 points per game and in their six home contests the average was only 23.5, highlighted by 17-13 wins against Michigan State (the Spartans’ lone defeat) and a 14-10 conquest of USC.

Playing a schedule that’ll host key matchups against opponents like Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina and Louisville, the Irish can’t afford any slips (pun intended).

After bringing in turf gurus and consultants to try and solve the problem with the stadium’s natural surface, getting a consistency between the surface the Irish practice on and the one they’ll play their home games on was critical, especially as the stadium begins a radical redesign.



  1. dickasman - Aug 11, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    I hope it tasted gooooood. Nothing like hott young fresh new virgin, soil that is!

    We just improved our 40 yd dash times by .08655785578656878 seconds.

  2. indyirish91 - Aug 11, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    It’s about time! Natural grass is not a tradition, it’s the past. They don’t wear leather helmets anymore either.

    • knuterocknesghost - Aug 11, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      Well…… as far as grass having any tradition, the ND alum magazine had an article on the stadium turf when the debate was raging on.

      Rockne had the sod removed from Cartier Field that was then the Irish playing field and planted as the turf for what was to be the new ND stadium before its first season in 1930. I guess Rockne was a little sentimental too.

  3. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 11, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    If you thought Brian K Red Faced antics were too much get ready for Vangorder.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 11, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      Wow. When you juxtapose that kind of emotion against Diaco’s “if a tree falls in the forest” mentality, you start to get me really pumped to see some amazing D.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 11, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      Nothing is better than watching a coach lose it when the players are just Jerking around.. Will Muschamp was a mad man at Texas…

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 11, 2014 at 9:32 PM

      Power Mustache

    • domerboyirish - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      What bothers me about this video is that this was one of his more recent coaching stops, it was in the SEC, he still had SEC level talent, and they are excited about breaking up a pass against a UL Monroe team that almost beat them.

      While I love the energy, and I know that players thrive off of it, I’m not yet convinced that BVG is going to be successful. I need to see it to believe it. I’ll be the first one to admit I’m wrong if our defense is dominant. I think so much depends on our defensive line play which is critical to pressure defense and our kids are, for the most part, young and inexperienced. Oh, and we are fairly thin at that position. I lived the nightmare that was Tenuta so until it happens I’m going to remain skeptical.

      Here is to hoping I’m wrong.

  4. ndgoldandblue - Aug 11, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    I said it before, as a fan, I’ll always prefer natural grass over turf. But if the playing surface is continually a problem, then changes need to be made. What boggles my mind is that, for some fans, the change to FieldTurf is the straw that broke the camel’s back. That would be like my wife asking for a divorce because I had her tub removed and replaced with a stand-up shower. Sure, a tub’s great and all, but you can still get clean.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 11, 2014 at 6:49 PM

      dumb analogy

      • ndgoldandblue - Aug 11, 2014 at 8:07 PM

        Wasn’t talking to you, john. But since you feel like contributing to every single post on here, you got a better one? All I was saying was that I don’t see why some folks have turned in their fan card because the ND brass installed FieldTurf in Notre Dame Stadium. If the playing surface causes you end your loyalty to a team, you need to check your priorities. Much like a tub and a shower–not worth the fuss. Pick your battles. Advice you should take as well, john.

    • ndguido - Aug 12, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      Notre Dame is better off without those traditionalist fans anyway. The old blue hair traditionalists have done more to destroy the program than any AD has in ND’s history. They’ve ruined the atmosphere at the stadium. Let them fade away.

      • immaculatereception - Aug 12, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        Couldn’t agree more. I HATE going to a game in ND Stadium and being told to sit down. I’ve sat right behind the student’s section and was being yelled at to sit down from those behind me and yelled at to stand up from the students section. I wanted to stand, but the usher told me I had to sit. It didn’t matter to him that the students were standing and I couldn’t see. What mattered to him was the people behind me didn’t want to stand.

        ND Stadium is NOT intimidating to opposing teams. Get rid of those who want to sit and watch like they are in their living room and let true fans go to the games.

      • domerboyirish - Aug 12, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        “The old blue hair traditionalists have done more to destroy the program than any AD has in ND’s history”

        Two words; Kevin White.

      • 1historian - Aug 13, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        For purposes of this discussion let us define a ‘traditionalist’ fan as one who is north of 50. (comme moi)

        “The old blue hair traditionalists have done more to destroy the program than any AD has in ND’s history” – your words.

        Could you give us some examples?

  5. irishmob89 - Aug 11, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    First off, Uncle Rico (VanGorder) is the man. We should all strive to be like him everyday. Secondly, it’s about time we got turf.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 11, 2014 at 8:02 PM

      When can we get jumbo ton and lose that horrible announcer.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 12, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        this is what makes it clear you aren’t an ND fan. that “horrible announcer” is mike Collins, he’s been announcing for over 30 years.

        if you were a fan, you’d know that.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Maybe Uncle Rico has that time machine and we can go back to 1988.

  6. lambda02750 - Aug 11, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Radiccal redesign?!?! Do tell!!!

  7. lambda02750 - Aug 11, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Radical redesign?!?! Do tell!!!

  8. georgegipp - Aug 12, 2014 at 3:15 AM

    Check that, Keith. The Irish were SCHEDULED to practice in the stadium today, but due to weather, they moved to the LaBar Practice Complex. I hope your journalistic standards aren’t slipping!

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