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TMCNet:  Computer programs like Hudl revolutionize prep football

[November 16, 2012]

Computer programs like Hudl revolutionize prep football

TAMPA, Nov 16, 2012 (Tampa Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Robinson High football coach Mike DePue remembers one Saturday morning when he awoke at the crack of dawn after a few hours of sleep, drove miles to a desolate parking lot to exchange VCR tapes of the previous night's game with another coach, and then drove back to Robinson.

When DePue arrived at Robinson, he inserted the tape into the machine and ...

The Three Stooges appeared.

Yes, there were plays of his next opponent, but in between there were scenes of Curly bopping Moe on the head.

"You know how it was," DePue said. "Sometimes you'd tape over things with those VCR tapes and other things that someone had taped would still pop up." Ancient history.

Thanks to computer software programs such as Hudl, which DePue and Robinson used for the first time this year, there are no more drives across the state to exchange tape. DePue would have done that Saturday because the Knights are playing tonight against Port Orange Atlantic, which is near Daytona.

"Now we just go online," DePue said, "because Atlantic also uses Hudl." So do many, many others.

In a nutshell, Hudl works by exporting a team's digitized game films to an online database in Nebraska, where anyone across the country -- players, coaches, family members -- can access the files with the username and password.

Besides the obvious upside of no longer having to exchange tape in person, a Hudl program offers chances for coaches -- from anywhere at any time -- to break down games play by play and make comments and notes of criticisms about players and/or plays. The notes can be written or voice recorded. There are even telestration tools coaches can use to show blocking assignments or a running back where they need to go.

Players and coaches, meantime, can study film when they want on their computers, tablets or smartphones.

"(Hudl) has saved us many, many hours of sleep," said Plant coach Bo Puckett, who heads up the Panthers' "Hudl initiative." "It has made things so much easier." Plant coach Robert Weiner discovered the program three years ago when Hudl's creators talked at a coaches' clinic in Oregon.

"At first, I thought it was some kind of a gimmick, but after I listened to it I said, 'This is the future,' " Weiner said. "This is going to change everything." Another of the things Weiner and Puckett like best about the program occurs in December, a time they used to spend compiling highlight reels, burning dozens of DVDs, stuffing them in envelopes and mailing them to college recruiters. Now highlight reels on each player can be created, saved and viewed by anyone through Hudl with the swipe of a keystroke.

"My Christmas vacations were never vacations because I would spend the whole break doing highlight films," Puckett said. "Now I actually get a Christmas vacation." The cost for Hudl program packages ranges from $29 a month to $3,000 a year, depending on how deep you want to interact with the program.

"It's money very well spent," DePue said. "We've saved a lot of time and energy using this program. It's been a boon." But there is one thing online game films cannot solve: Poor camera work.

As DePue said: "We are still at the mercy of the cameraman." ___ (c)2012 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.) Visit the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.) at www.tampatrib.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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