Friday, September 13, 2013
Soldier Field turf will be tested this weekend
By Doug Padilla
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The sometimes sketchy turf conditions at Soldier Field will get their first real test of the season with a busy weekend along the lakefront.
The Chicago Bears will take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, a day after Illinois faces Washington in a college football matchup.
First-year Bears coach Marc Trestman said he discussed the matter with head groundskeeper Ken Mrock.
"(Mrock) feels they will do a good job in cleaning up the field for the game," Trestman said.
The grounds crew will have a limited window to get things back in order. The college football game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start Saturday and won't end until after 8 p.m. The Bears and Vikings play the next day at noon.
Adding to the potential for problems is the chance for scattered thunderstorms Sunday.
"I'm not concerned about it," Trestman said. "We don't have any control over the weather. We played in some mud at training camp, certainly, and had weather in training camp, so our guys have been on that kind of field."
Soldier Field is well-known for its turf issues, especially late in the season when the cold weather takes its toll on the grass.
"These guys have played on it a lot more than I have and certainly have been around it," Trestman said. "I don't expect that the field conditions will dramatically impact either team to where any team will have an advantage."
In Trestman's view, the only weather conditions that present a significant concern are high winds, and Sunday's forecast calls for only south-southwest breezes at 9 mph. And significant winds aren't even much of a concern with a strong-armed quarterback.
"(In wind), it all depends whether you can use the area of the field outside of the numbers," Trestman said. "Fortunately, in terms of the passing game, it helps us because the numbers aren't an issue for Jay (Cutler). He can throw the ball outside in wind and in that kind of weather, and he's used to doing it. But I think wind affects the game environment more than rain at times, or snow, or something like that."