PSU quarterbacks use PlayStation to learn
Jay Paterno is melding the world of bits and bytes with that of hits and highlights in his Penn State quarterback meetings.
It's all made possible by the newest addition to the coaching staff -- a PlayStation 3.
"The good thing is nobody's ever late for our (meetings) -- not that they're ever late -- but they're all about 20 minutes early now because they all want to get in there and turn it on and beat each other," Paterno said of his quarterbacks. "I'm sure my son, when he finds out we have it in the building and that our guys are using it, he'll want to come in and play it."
The idea is to give the Penn State quarterbacks more work on their playbook, which is loaded onto a Madden football game for use in the video game machine.
Simulators long have been used for the training of pilots, but those are high-buck machines. NASCAR driver Carl Edwards struck a blow for off-the-shelf video games when he won a race at Pocono in 2005, his first visit to the track, and credited it to preparation he got from playing a retail video game. Edwards has said since that a neophyte could play a video game of a track and be 90 percent of the way to mastering it.
"It would be tough to put a percentage on it," said Paterno of the PlayStation work for his quarterbacks, but he's convinced it will pay dividends.
"While we're in there, so-called wasting time, playing PlayStation, we can actually learn something," starting quarterback Anthony Morelli said. "It will almost be like watching film. Changing plays on the fly, it's just a fun thing that's going to help us on the field."
The relationship of the game to action on the field is considerable, according to Morelli.
"It's pretty much getting to the point where it's almost real. It's getting scary," he said. "They've got guys' accuracy, your arm strength. They're almost making it look exactly like you. Some guys even move like they really move. It's crazy. It's realistic."
And Paterno expects it to be helpful.
"On a Friday now when we have our 15-play script, we can go in and I can do the things defensively I think we're going to get and Anthony is going to run our 15-play script," he said. "It's going to enable us to do some more things this year than it did in the past. I think it has a lot of carryover."
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who coaches the Penn State defensive backs, had a word of caution for his guys: Don't expect a video game to show up in his meeting room any time soon.
"There are no video games. We don't even allow any pictures," Bradley said. "Well, that isn't entirely true. I have a picture of a kid playing high school football with one arm and one leg. To me, that's a true great one. And, in the back, after we won the Orange Bowl, I allowed them to get a shot of me with them, kind of like in the movie 'Hoosiers.' "
Bradley will leave the world of video games to Jay Paterno, which brings up an amusing possibility.
Imagine Jay trying to explain to his father, Joe, who is fond of pronouncing his aversion to all things technical, how one of the quarterbacks is suffering from video gamer's thumb.