Best had seen it used by other positions and, while he didn’t fully grasp how it worked at first, he was intrigued about it’s potential on the offensive line.
He used it for the first time at Nevada last year, but mostly from a scouting perspective. They could get coaches to mimic the movements of opponents and put it on film, then let their players watch it in advance. While he’s still tweaking aspects of the system, he’s encouraged by the initial foray into using it as a teaching tool every day.
“It was flattering to have somebody ask me to do that. It was a lot of fun for me to develop it and find the best way to get it done,” Best said. “Once I got it developed and got my teaching system developed — and it’s taken time — but now at Colorado State we’re filming it and you can see their eyes and their heads showing up on film. You can see their responses have really sped up.”
That’s what Matt has noticed most, even more so this year teaching the system to a group of newcomers. They used it with Carson Strong first at Nevada, calling him the guinea pig. Millen used it too, and because of the viewpoint, Matt feels Millen is ahead of where Strong was at the same point in their careers.
He entered spring camp expecting it to take time for the new quarterbacks to pick it up, but he’s been shocked at their rapid progression in the Air Raid, attributing much of the growth to virtual reality.
Repetition is key, and this increases reps. Speed in learning is of the essence, and this ramps it up.
“For a guy like me who came from VHS tapes and watching tape in the room, it’s amazing,” Matt said. “It’s amazing what we can do. Again, you save these young men time. Laugh for what it is, PlayStation and Xboxes, but these kids know coverages and understand it because they play video games. VAR just takes it a whole other step, and they get to see it.
“It’s an added bonus. It’s not a replacement, it’s a third element. Do it, see it, then experience it in virtual reality.”
Which is how Millen uses it. He will still watch more practice tape than anything, but he does see undeniable benefits to watching practice reps through a virtual reality headset. He can do it sitting in a chair, or stand up and be an active participant while he’s watching it.
It’s not just his tape he watches, either. He will put on clips from Giles Pooler to learn from what he’s seeing, too. It is what both he and the Mummes see as the main teaching tool of the technology – quarterbacks can really see if their eyes are in the right spot.
“I think from the wide camera up above, it’s harder to tell where you’re eyes are at. When it’s right behind you, you can see where you’re looking at the entire time and the coaches can go through and evaluate if you’re going through the right progression,” Millen said. “Left to right, here you’re processing and going through the right pace. It shows you what each quarterback was thinking. If Giles has a rep, I can watch it on VAR and see what he was thinking so I can learn from him, as well.
“You can look at yourself, look at all the coaches behind you. It’s pretty crazy technology. I was shocked how great of a tool it really was. Both have benefits. From the wide view you can see the full field and not just from the quarterback perspective. From the quarterback’s perspective, you can’t always see some little things. You’re on the field and in that spot, versus the wide view you can see everything from above. Both have their benefits. I couldn’t have one over the other. But when you see it from VAR, it’s more an actual rep.”