Saturday, May 23, 2015

A 'Game Changer'

Popping by Memorial Field yesterday afternoon the sun was in the wrong place to get a good picture and all I had was my iPod Touch, but I thought to snap this shot anyway as the final section of grandstand has now been put in place. Lots of work still to be done, obviously, but apart from the press box you now have a pretty good idea how the facility will look.

Interestingly, the old stands had six portals (also called vomitories, yuck) while the new grandstand has a whopping 11 entryways to the home stands.

BGA Premium featured a story about this in the spring, but as the San Diego Union-Tribune notes, six schools will be using cutting-edge technology for virtual training of their quarterbacks (and other players) in the coming season.

From the Union-Tribune (LINK):
Stanford, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Auburn, Arkansas and Dartmouth are STRIVR Labs’ first official partners.
Green Alert Take: Dartmouth's in with some fast football company. Kind of makes you think about the phrase, "One of these things is not like the other," doesn't it?

How did it happen? Derek Belch, who has pioneered using Oculus Rift goggles and virtual reality for football, was recruited to Stanford by Buddy Teevens when he coached the Cardinal.

More from the story:
(T)he forward-thinking coaches who’ve bought into Belch’s product can’t stop singing its praises.
“I put it on and I was shocked at how realistic it was. It was our guys, on video (Belch and Edwards) had shot,” said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens. “I’m an old quarterback, and my reaction when I was taking the snap was to move my hand and move my feet. I brought in our quarterback, and he had the same reaction.
“You can see it 360 degrees – check the motion, look behind you to see who the back is, and identify defensive personnel – it’s as though you’re standing on the football field.”
Near the end of Dartmouth spring football I had a chance to pull on the goggles and accompanying headset and step into the virtual world. Here's part of what I wrote about that on BGA Premium:
Looking left I could see linemen and receivers awaiting the snap. I felt like I could almost reach out and touch them. Ditto the guys on the right. 
Told to turn around I looked behind me I was surprised to see the Stanford tailback a few steps back. I half expected a tap on my backside. 
When I looked down the was turf below me. 
At the snap of the ball my receivers ran their routes and the defense reacted. 
Did I find the open receiver? Nope. It probably would have helped if my heart weren’t racing and I knew the play we were running. Instead I could feel panic coming on as the pressure built and the mythical internal clock ticked away. 
The bottom line? 
My first reaction when the virtual world click on in front of me was to say, “Holy crap.” (Belch said he’s heard that sentiment time and again, although frequently with a four-letter synonym.) 
My second reaction? I asked if I could buy stock in his company because if I had any extra money laying around, I’d be first in line. I was joking, sort of, but it is that promising an idea.
For what it's worth, Dartmouth quarterback Dalyn Williams had a chance to try the system and he thinks it will make a huge difference in helping QBs prepare. I'll be having thoughts from the All-Ivy League QB on the virtual trainer in another piece I am working on.
Speaking of quarterbacks, what Ivy League school do you think has the best combination of talent and depth at the position?

It might well be Columbia.

The long-suffering Lions posted their first roster for the fall on their website and it confirms that Stanford transfer Brett Nottingham has returned to the team. Nottingham was ranked as the fourth-best pro-style quarterback in the country when he switched his commitment from UCLA to Stanford. (LINK)

The Columbia roster does not yet include freshmen and transfers, but when it does a new name will be that of quarterback Styler Mornhinweg, a transfer from Florida. ESPNU had him ranked as a four-star recruit out of high school. (LINK)

Also on the Columbia roster are senior Trevor McDonagh, who passed for 1,349 yards and eight touchdowns last fall and promising soph Anders Hill, who threw for 310 yards a year ago.

Green Alert Take: Nottingham and Mornhinweg didn't live up to the hype at their previous stops, and what happens with the former after he left the team a year ago will be interesting to see. But clearly new coach Al Bagnoli has a lot to choose from heading into his first season at Columbia.