by Chris Bahn
Posted 8/16/2011 03:05 pm
Updated 7 months ago
Local talk radio has included no shortage of conversation regarding the quarterback position at Arkansas. Message board posters also offer daily critique of how Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell are handling the offense during fall camp.
Conversations among the press contingent covering practices tend to stop during the team portions. Each snap taken by the team's quarterbacks is logged, reviewed and often shared with readers.
Not to mention the duo — who are said to be competing for the starting job — take snaps under the watchful eyes of Coach Bobby Petrino and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee. There is little Mitchell or Wilson do — or don’t do — that goes unnoticed.
It’s hard to imagine the position could face any more scrutiny than that. But it’s possible. And it’s happening each day in practice.
Arkansas coaches have added a third camera angle when recording workouts, one targeted specifically for the quarterbacks. Unlike the numerous cameras that are already used to capture video, this one is operated at field level and attached to a pole, allowing it to be positioned behind the quarterbacks on each play.
Practice has traditionally been filmed from the end zones and sidelines. Shooting with the new camera provides a much tighter shot than teams normally get to review from the end zone equipment.
How Wilson and the other quarterbacks operate at the line of scrimmage is revealed along with their technique on throws. They can get a sense of details all the way down to how their helmet is positioned when taking a snap. What angles the linebackers are taking and the positioning of safeties also pop up on film, helping the quarterbacks when it comes to reading and reacting to defenses.
Video study is a crucial component of developing players. Hours of mandatory and voluntary study are put in at each position, particularly at quarterback. This has provided even more opportunity to critique the quarterbacks, offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said.
“It’s a really good. It’s adding value to us,” McGee said. “…You know it’s really good, a really good deal for us. It helps us a lot.”
Coach Bobby Petrino had hoped to get the camera up and running in time for spring practice. Video coordinator Andy Wagner suggested the equipment prior to spring practice, but it took longer than expected to get it going, one of the only complaints about the camera so far.
Petrino got a look at the angles captured by the camera and liked what he saw enough to authorize the purchase. Because the Razorbacks were replacing record-setting quarterback Ryan Mallett, Petrino wanted all available resources to help evaluate his quarterbacks and he wanted them as quickly as possible.
“It’s been a long time coming. No question about that,” Petrino said. “[It took] way too many days to get it operational.”
Judging from the reaction from McGee and Wilson, it was worth the wait. Adding a third view has been a help to the learning process in the film room. It makes what coaches are teaching a little easier to digest because any bad habits — or great plays — are captured in a way that registers easier.
Wilson said the view provided has been invaluable to his development over the past week. Part of Wilson’s allure is he can throw off balance and from different angles, but too often he was in unfavorable positions to deliver the ball. Seeing it for himself helped Wilson correct the mistakes he was making and the results have been apparent in recent practices.
Many of Wilson’s throws have been on the money since the middle of last week. Teammates have noticed Wilson seems more zeroed in and it’s possible those corrections would have developed slower without the aid of the quarterback camera.
“I’m able to see what I see when I’m out there,” Wilson said. “…Technique-wise, I’m able to dissect what I’m doing in my throwing motion, how long it is. It’s really a benefit for us. I’ve enjoyed using it.”
Programs have toyed with getting a true quarterback’s view for a least a decade. Cameras have been mounted to the helmet of the quarterback, but images were not always the steadiest. Plus, you’re putting a piece of video equipment in harm’s way. That seems to be asking for trouble.
A quick Internet search suggests a video coordinator at Tennessee originated the camera on a pole. Virginia has used similar technology for its quarterbacks. Shooting behind the quarterback provides not only a view of what the signal caller sees, but also a closer look at how he’s operating.
McGee, a former quarterback at Oklahoma and Arizona State, laughed when I asked if he wished the technology had been around during his playing days.
“I don’t know,” McGee said, cracking a smile. “That camera, it reveals a lot.”