LSU QBs Use Video Game To Prepare For Championship

Game looks and plays just like the popular Madden NFL and NCAA football games

Jan. 5, 2008

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - When practice is over and film study is done, LSU quarterbacks, as most college kids do, play video games.

The difference is Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux are usually still working on the game plan for the BCS national championship game against Ohio State when they fire up the Xbox these days.

LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has used a custom-made video game to help his quarterbacks learn to read defenses.

XOS Technologies, a company that specializes in gearing technology to the needs of coaches, worked with EA Sports to produce the PlayAction Simulator that LSU has used this season.

"What they've done is they put our plays into the video game and then they put in our opponents' defenses," said Crowton, the Tigers' first-year offensive coordinator.

The game looks and plays just like the popular Madden NFL and NCAA football games, though all the goofy stuff such as player celebrations, cheering crowds, mascots and bands have been removed.

LSU and Tennessee were the first schools to use it this season and it went well enough that XOS expects to make it available to all its clients this year. The company provides technology to most Division I schools.

"The video game is an excellent resource we have," Perrilloux said. "Whenever we hit a play, that play would automatically match up with the defense that we would see or blitz we would see.

"If you make the wrong decision it's an automatic interception or it's an automatic incompletion."

Crowton is able to customize each quarterback's video game playbook.

"You can make it faster and harder for my experienced guys; more experienced people running the offense and more experienced guys who know how to play the games," Crowton said.

So when Flynn, LSU's fifth-year senior starter, sits down to play, he's got an extensive selection of plays from which to choose, compared with Perrilloux, the No. 2 quarterback whom Crowton usually limits to about 10 plays per game.


 

 

When Flynn plays, the game forces him to make decisions faster than say, third-stringer Andrew Hatch, who's in his first season and not as adept at running the offense.

"It definitely helps you make the right reads and get to the right spot," Flynn said.

The game doesn't take the place of practice or film study, but it's probably a little more fun.

"It was cool," Perrilloux said. "It focuses on what you bring to the table during that game." And "it looks just like me."

The idea seems like a natural considering how popular video games are among all college kids, especially athletes.

Albert Tsai, vice president of advanced research and development for XOS, said the company started working on the idea about two years ago when some coaches suggested it.

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick was one of the first. Tsai recalled a trip to the University of Iowa when a coach pulled out a game control and said, "we need something that can work with this."

The 50-year-old Crowton is a bit of a tech-head. The former BYU head coach has been in the business for 25 years and has been using computers since way back before laptops were everywhere.

"When I started with technology I had a little Tandy computer from Radio Shack that helped me get a job at New Hampshire," he said.

While Crowton was ahead of his time back in the late 1980s, these days most coaches embrace technology as a teaching tool.

He's not much of a gamer, though.

"My thumbs aren't fast enough," he said. "I've always been a big computer guy, but when I was younger Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man was the game."

For now the PlayAction Simulator is geared solely toward quarterbacks and is played from their perspective. Crowton said he wouldn't be surprised if eventually players at other positions will be able to use it.

It already scores high with him.

"The thing is pretty realistic," he said. "It's in position right now where we can really take off with it through the winter, going into spring ball and for next year.

"It's still in its infant stages for us ... but it's been kind of fun for our guys."

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