Cedar City - Southern Utah officials announced Wednesday the school's new artificial surface at Eccles Coliseum has been fully installed and will be ready for the Thunderbirds' home opener Sept. 15 against New Mexico Highlands. Coach Ed Lamb put his team through a 6 a.m. practice on the new surface and, afterward, everyone seemed pleased with the product. "I'm excited, I've missed it," said junior defensive end Kouri Jones, who played on artificial surfaces in high school in Texas. "I love it." Said Lamb: "I think the players really enjoyed it. They were out a half-hour early ... running around and really enjoying themselves." Lamb sees a huge long-term benefit to the artificial surface. "This feels better than any turf I've been on," Lamb said. "... The biggest difference we're going to feel is when we get into November and December and then training in the off-season. That's when this turf is really going to pay off." Southern Utah visits California on Saturday at 1 p.m. MDT before the home opener against New Mexico Highlands.