Nebraska has something new at practice this fall - Catapult GPS trackers. While information on the trackers is still limited, the media got a first look at what the Cornhuskers are hoping to accomplish with them during the first practice of fall camp.
“They can track these guys, built up some data and learn a lot as far as making sure we’re tailoring practice the right way, not only for performance, but for injury prevention and that type of thing,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini told reporters.
The Catapult GPS system is new to Nebraska. In fact, it's relatively new to the college football landscape in general. On Catapult's website, only 15 NCAA programs are listed, which does not include Nebraska yet.
Florida State is one of those 15 programs listed, and Jimbo Fisher isn't afraid to credit Catapult with some of the Seminoles' success in 2013. He recently spoke candidly about the benefits of the trackers, which was captured in this YouTube video.
As CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reported, "Fisher said the Noles suffered 88 percent less soft-tissue injuries last season using Catapult. That's less pulls, less tears, more front-line players on the field."
That's exactly what Catapult wants Fisher and any coach to get out of the trackers. As Catapult states on their website, the trackers measure "such events as impacts, acceleration, and movement through GPS. All of the measurements can be followed in real-time and coaches can receive reports on players in seconds."
And it's not just Florida State seeing the benefits of the Australia-based product. FIFA has also really embraced Catapult's GPS system. For example, the trackers offered some interesting statistics that were previously not available on players during the 2014 World Cup.
As for Nebraska, it's not clear how the Huskers will use the data yet. However, it's not lost on anyone that the technology is a big step forward for a typically old-school coach.
Lanny Holstein of 93.7 The Ticket suggested as much on Tuesday morning:
The GPS systems Nebraska is using on its players this year is very cool. Bo is more innovative than he gets credit for. #Huskers— Lanny Holstein (@937Lanny) August 5, 2014
Of the 105 players on the roster, the Lincoln Journal Star's Brian Rosenthal indicates that roughly 55 players were wearing the trackers during the first practice. That includes men "two-deep on offense and defense, and some special teams players."
How do the players feel about the GPS trackers? As the Fremont Tribune reported, offensive lineman Mike Moudy thought it was neat but was still a bit unsure about how it worked.
"They’ve got, like, a thousand pieces of data on you. It’s kind of cool. It measures, like, your heart rate and … I don’t know, honestly. They explained it to us, but it took about 20 minutes to explain," he said.
It was clear the confusion was still there at the end of practice, too. As Rosenthal noted, strength and conditioning coach James Dobson had to interrupt post-practice interviews briefly to remove the trackers from underneath players' shoulder pads.
As practice continues, the confusion will lessen but the information gained will be valuable. While those outside of the program may not have much information on how the statistics will be used yet, it's a step in the right direction.
For Pelini, that's exactly what he wants for his players and from his practices.