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Penn State Football: O'Brien's Teaching More Efficient with XOS Video System

by on May 10, 2012 7:45 AM

Change was inevitable for the football team when Bill O'Brien was hired five months ago. The drastic have been listed ad nauseam: weight room renovation, New England Patriots-style offense, program personnel, etc.

Holuba Hall is set to go under a $1.5 million upgrade and reconfiguration in July that will replace two 80-yard fields with one 120-yard field.

More will come. It's only Year 1. But some things aren't changing — no, not talking about the uniforms.

There's an eager giddy-up in O'Brien's voice just by mentioning the words, "video system." He knows what you're talking about — the XOS video system used to break down almost every facet of a game. 

Down, distance, field position, offensive and defensive personnel, formation, red zone, two-minute offense. You get the drift.

"You can take all that information and what's unique about it is it's just like any computer program — you can cut it up and block it off and organize it however you want to organize it," O'Brien said of the system, which was already in place at Penn State for several years. That's not a bad thing, considering almost every professional sports franchise and major college sports program uses the XOS system.

"It's a great teaching tool. If you want to watch all of the third-and-mediums from Ohio over the last five or six games that they played, and you want to show your quarterbacks that in training camp, you just cut it out.

"Then, you can make it appropriate to what you're doing. If you want to eliminate some personnel groupings that you don't even have, then you eliminate those and you just show what's appropriate for what you do."

Here's a variety of features the program offers:

  • Create and manage thousands of play diagrams
  • View, edit and share digital recruiting videos in the office or on the road
  • In Touch system, which allows a coach to draw over practice or game footage to better teach
  • XOS Powerplay, a portable system in a durable case that allows for a coach to take the system with him on the road

O'Brien provides DVD copies of various teaching points to his players to review on their personal computer or in their apartment.

"It's changed the game," O'Brien said. "It's changed the game because it's made game planning so much more specific and hard, to be honest with you."

Added O'Brien: "Video is a great way to teach football, because it's proof. It's not just words. That's a system that, it was already in place at Penn State, which is great, because otherwise we would have gone out and bought it because it's the best."

It also saves time.

O'Brien's ideal practice tempo is so quick, he tells his assistants there's not much time for hands-on teaching on the field.

"I tell them, 'Don't hold a clinic on the field. Coach off the video in the meeting. Use the walk-throughs before practice to teach,' because we gotta play at a fast pace," O'Brien said. "I always want our coaches to prove things to our players. Our players should be asking questions why. Like, 'Why are we doing this?' And, the coach should answer the question why before the player even asks it. Video gives you the ability to do that."

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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