The hay is in the barn, and that's a Virtual Reality. OK, that's the truth after Derek Belch wrapped up his taping and hit the road after working the Arkansas football team through the setup of the STIMVR, the technology developed in the last two years at Stanford University.
It's left the Razorbacks in an upbeat mood with just the Red-White game left to put the cap on 15 days of spring drills. The Razorbacks completed the 14th practice on Thursday. Offensive coordinator Dan Enos and quarterback Brandon Allen were in the interview room Thursday night with rave reviews.
The word on the street before Belch and his crew arrived on campus was that it was a quarterback's dream. Allen has called it "trippy" in several interviews, including again Thursday night. He can't wait until the finished product returns from the west coast.
"They are going to take back all of the tape and make it virtual," Allen said. "It's going to enable us to get mental reps like a practice, or really a game, all summer. It's real trippy."
Enos wasn't sure about "trippy." He called it, "Pretty cool." As a quarterback coach, Enos said it is a dream come true.
"When I first heard about it a couple of months ago, I was amazed," he said. "I didn't really know what it was, but I was all in. I couldn't wait to see it. Now that I've seen it, I'm amazed. And, I know it's something that's going to continue to evolve. There are so many positives for young players.
"I see how it's going to help us in reading defenses, picking up blitzes, just so many ways you can use it."
It was advertised as bigger for quarterbacks, backs, receivers, defensive backs and linebackers and not so much help for offensive and defensive linemen. UA line coach Sam Pittman begs to differ.
"No, I think our guys will use it, too," he said. "I think it's going to beneficial for our offensive linemen, to recognize the safety coming down. Oh, yeah, I like it for offensive line guys, too."
Enos said it's a way to get repetitions with no coaches around. It's perfect for the summer development time when the NCAA prevents coaches from tutoring players.
"What I expect it to really help us with us with is when coaches are not around," Enos said. "The guys can go in a room and it's going to be like a practice. The players will get unlimited reps. The way I see it, when I put on the goggles, it's game like. It will benefit us in season and in the summer."
The players are just figuring it out. While players like Allen have sampled it with goggles and head sets on, some are just getting the good word.
"I have not tried it yet," said Jared Cornelius, sophomore wide receiver. "Coach (Bret) Bielema told me about it a few weeks ago in a meeting. It's going to be really something. I have not put on the goggles, but we understand what we are getting. It's exciting to know that we will have a tool like that, as one of the first college teams to own it. We know it's going to give us an advantage and we are going to utilize it as much as possible."
But first, there's the Red-White game. There will be some benefits there, but Enos warned that many of the bells and whistles will remain a secret. He said much of the new things that have been added the last 14 practices won't be on display.
"It's going to be watered down," Enos said. "It's how spring games go."
That doesn't mean they aren't important.
"There are still a lot of evaluations taking place," Enos said. "This game is important for our young players for evaluations, and for some veterans, too. The first thing we want to see is effort. We want great effort. The second thing, we want to see how they carry out assignments. Are they clean?"
Allen said "clean" has been mentioned all week.
"We aren't going to show a lot, but how we play is important," Allen said. "We want to be clean, no penalties, turnovers. We aren't running our new plays, but we still have a lot of things we can run."
The new stuff has been a delight to players. They know now is not the time to put anything new on display.
"We've had a lot of fun this spring," Allen said. "It's been like night and day. There is new stuff, but just the way we execute things is different from where we've been. We've got a lot of reps and we've improved.
"As far as me personally, it's been quite a journey and this is my last (spring game). I've learned so much."
Cornelius raves about Allen's development just in the 14 months that he's been on campus.
"He really had a good spring," Cornelius said. "He throws better. He understands this new offense. He's going to do great things."
Mention his new offensive coordinator and Cornelius' eyes sparkle.
"He's given us a lot of excitement," Cornelius said of Enos. "What we had last year was a lot of running plays. What we are doing now is really exciting for the receivers. It's the kind of things a receiver wants to do. There is balance. All of our receivers are really happy with what we are doing."
Thursday Grid Update, 4/23
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