WVU Football Continuing Player Development, Growth with Advanced Technology
Throughout the offseason, WVU football head coach Neal Brown and the rest of his staff have been in the process of revamping the team’s entire playbook to move more to the Mountaineers’ strengths.
To do this, the team has chosen multiple new forms of off-field testing to gain more insight into how to get West Virginia’s performance back on track through practice and training.
“You get to pick and choose where to invest (the program’s) money,” Brown said during Thursday’s news conference. “We tried to invest our resources to go right into player development.”
The West Virginia staff has based its decision making on two main areas — recovery and technology.
Brown said the recovery aspect is to give the Mountaineers the ability to “repeat their best” in terms of performance every week during the season.
“It’s all about health,” Brown said. “We want to be at our best Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. If you can’t compete at a high level Tuesday and Wednesday, very few can go perform on Saturday. Those that can are the elite.”
Brown also broke down the technology portion of the plan into two parts, being injury prevention and skill development.
West Virginia’s training room now has the ability to create molds for a player’s cleats to greatly lower the risk of ankle and foot injuries. Many Mountaineers also wear heart rate monitors that are watched by the trainers, so if a staff member sees an issue, the player can immediately be pulled from the practice until they recover.
On the field, the Mountaineers have added the Monarc Seeker robotic quarterback to its arsenal. The Seeker, one of the first passers to be able to throw to receivers without continuously feeding the machine, was originally developed as a contactless practice alternative during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
West Virginia has also upgraded to using Trackman, a radar system that employs Doppler technology to track and record three-dimensional characteristics of the football in motion.
This tactic will be key in the Mountaineers’ quarterback and kicker competitions.
“When you have the Trackman system that we’ve invested in, that sets you apart,” said West Virginia assistant coach Jeff Koonz, who serves as the Mountaineers’ special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach.
“It’s like going to a school to play golf, and they have the nicest practice facility in the country. When the guys go out there and they can have that to their ability, and no one else has that, they kind of levels the playing field a little bit. That’s been a huge help for us.”
Brown rounded off the list by explaining his players’ usage of a Dynaboard and a similar pair of goggles to improve their hand-eye coordination.
He also noted he was intrigued by a virtual wristband used to call offensive plays that was on display at the annual American Football Coaches Association Convention.
West Virginia has two more weeks of official spring practice to put the upgrades to good use. The Mountaineers will have meetings Monday before returning to workouts on Tuesday.