Grass practice fields providing Wyoming relief from heat, injuries

After five straight days on grass practice fields, D.J. May and his Wyoming teammates have made light of their new setting.

“We’re joking around, like, ‘Hey, it’s Michigan State out here!” May said, laughing.

The Cowboys played just one of their 12 games on grass in 2014 — at Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium. They only practiced on grass once last year, senior quarterback Cameron Coffman said earlier this week.

But six of their seven practices during fall camp have been on natural grass rather than the FieldTurf at the Indoor Practice Facility and Jonah Field.

With UW only playing two of its 12 regular-season games on grass this season, the decision to move away from artificial turf thus far has been to preserve players rather than to prepare for games on grass.

Ultimately, it’s cooler and causes fewer injuries.

“What we’re finding is by going on the grass, the heat index is about 40 degrees less right now,” UW coach Craig Bohl said. “That has a particularly big impact on guys being able to stay (on the field) and respond. … We’re getting work done, but we’re just working smarter.”

Added May: “Your feet aren’t burning. It’s a little less warm out there. It’s a little softer, too. It’s a different feel. We’re used to playing on the turf where it’s a little hard, getting turf toe and stuff, and falling, hitting knees hard on the ground. But the grass, it’s more comfortable.”

May, a junior nickel back, and sophomore cornerback Robert Priester are returning from season-ending knee injuries last fall.

With Wyoming playing on the North 40 practice fields on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and the practice fields south of War Memorial Stadium on Thursday and Friday, it’s allowed the two projected starters to ease back into football, to some degree.

“It’s helped me a lot more because the turf is pretty hard to get my foot out of the ground and plant,” Priester said. “The grass is pretty good.”