Sanford grass could be beat up

UGA VI

ATHENS – On Sept. 29, Georgia played its most recent home game. Two days later, the city of Athens enacted a complete outdoor watering ban.

Welcome to Waldo Terrell's world. Terrell is the head of Georgia's grounds crew and the man responsible for keeping Sanford Stadium's grass field alive and in playing shape for the Bulldogs return home on Saturday afternoon.

"There have been some unique challenges for sure," Terrell said.

On Oct. 4, Terrell and his crew put down new sod on the middle portion of the field (in the area between the 35-yard lines and inside the hash marks) to help with footing problems that have cropped up all year due to the drought. The crew waited until after Georgia held an afternoon practice at the stadium that day and worked through the night to get the job done, finishing at 6:30 a.m. the next day.

The next step was keeping the new grass alive. For that, the school was granted a ruling from the Athens-Clarke County government that allowed it to pump water from two small ponds that catch runoff water from the soccer stadium's parking lot.

"There is no flow out of those ponds, and the water is not drinkable," Terrell said.

Three days a week, in a process that takes six hours from start to finish, the grounds crew has pumped water from those ponds into a rented tanker truck, driven that truck to Sanford Stadium and used a portable irrigation system to water the field.

The result has been 36,000 gallons of water a week on a field that usually gets 90,000 gallons per week.

"It's not ideal, but it is enough to sustain life," Terrell said.

The field won't look as good as it normally does when No. 10 Georgia plays Troy at 1 p.m. Saturday, but it should have better footing than it has had all year.

"In the grand scheme of things, that's all we're hopeful for considering the conditions we've had -- a safe field that when an athlete sticks his foot in the ground it stays there," Terrell said.

Head coach Mark Richt hasn't seen the field but has heard it's in good shape, he said.

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