How much is UCF thinking about playing on Boise State’s famed blue turf this week? So much so that the Knights plan to practice on a blue field in Orlando at least once prior to traveling to Boise.
UCF coach Gus Malzahn admitted Monday playing on a blue field “will be a little different”, which is why the Knights plan to practice at nearby Master’s Academy – which has blue field turf similar to Albertson’s Stadium in Boise.
“We’re going to try and practice here locally on a blue field one time before we leave and we’ll see if that will help,” Malzahn said during his weekly Monday press conference.
“It is what it is. It’s a long road game and it happens to be one of the toughest places to play in all of college football. But we’re looking forward to it. It will be a good test to see where we’re at.”
Boise State (0-1) is coming off a 56-19 loss at Washington, while UCF (1-0) had a dominant 56-6 win over Kent State.
The Broncos are 130-15 (89.7 percent) on The Blue since 2000. Only Oklahoma (128-13, 90.8 percent) has a better home record the past 23 years since the Broncos.
“You look at that and it’s real impressive,” Malzahn said. “We’ll have our hands full. We know exactly what we’re getting into.”
But Boise State has struggled of late at home, going 8-5 on The Blue the last two years under coach Andy Avalos. The Broncos were 100-4 at home from 1999 to 2014 and are 38-11 in eight years since.
Asked if the blue field was a psychological advantage for the Broncos, Malzahn said, “I don’t know. We have a couple guys on our team that played there, a couple coaches. The fact we’re considering going on a blue turf here before we leave, 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 painted its practice field blue in 2010 prior playing in Boise. Other teams have tried similar acts. It rarely works. The Broncos have averaged less than one home loss per season the past two-plus decades.
UCF safety Quadric Bullard said he always dreamed of playing on a non-green field while in college. He’s eager to get the chance later this week in practice – and then Saturday in the game.
“It will be a first time for me and it will help us get adjusted to it,” Bullard said Monday. “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 o practice on one and get reps on a blue field.”
Said offensive lineman Tylan Grable, “Growing up always watching college football and I always thought it was interesting seeing a blue field. 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.”
Grable said he’s expecting a crazy atmosphere in Boise for the Broncos’ home opener – regardless of the field color.
“We’re going to be in a great environment,” Grable said. “We’re going to get their best shot. They lost this past week but they are going to come out and play in front of their home crowd and they’ll be excited to get back home.
“The game is going to be electric for them. They are going to be ready to play so we have to match their energy.”
Malzahn was very complimentary of Boise State during Monday’s press conference, saying when he went to Arkansas State in 2012 “my goal for our program was to be the Boise State of the South. They are national brand, they are a winning program – one of the winningest programs since 2000 -so they are used to winning and they’ve had a lot of great coaches come through there and a lot of great players. They have a culture of winning.
“Anytime you schedule a road game with those guys, you have to buckle up and play good to have a chance to win. That’s just the facts of the matter.”
Malzahn and the Knights are expecting an inspired and motivated Boise State team to be waiting for them in Boise after the 37-point loss to Washington in the opener, making it an even more difficult game for the visitors.
“We’re playing a team that has a lot of pride and they are very well coached and used to winning and they had a tough loss, so I know their backs are against the wall and they are going to give it their best,” Malzahn said. “We know that we’re going to have to play good football.
“We’re going to have to play really good, sound football on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be a physical game, which is always good. We have a lot of respect for them and their head coach (Andy Avalos). I’ve gone against him numerous times and he’s as good as it gets. We have to play good football and execute better than we did last week to have a chance to get a victory.”
Plenty of tickets still remain for Saturday’s home opener at BroncoSports.com.