LSU: Walk through room

The LSU "Walk Through Room" in the new football operations building has four projectors hanging down and shows a digital offensive formation. 

Try to read the Alabama quarterback's eyes.

Or watch a Texas A&M left guard's movement.

In a room inside LSU's football operations building, newly renovated at a cost of $28 million, you can stand on a 50-foot-wide turf floor, look at the 12-foot-high wall and see an entire offensive formation staring right back at you.

Four high-definition projectors hang from the ceiling, and their merging light casts the image of one of the newest breakthroughs in college football film study.

Welcome to the "Walk Through Room," a semi-virtual world in which LSU football players will face off against their opponents once preseason camp begins Aug. 2.

LSU coaches can now digitally replicate opposing teams using a software developed by the U.S. Army: a free application called "GoArmy Edge."

Coaches can draw up a play inside the application, which is loaded with playbooks and drills, and virtually simulate the play on the wall with 3D figures that move in sync.

"It's almost like Madden," said Bryan Stuckey, vice president of operations for 8K Solutions, which installed the projectors and software at LSU. "The basic idea is to give a life-size view for the players."

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The entire installment generally costs around $100,000, and LSU is one of three college programs that have installed the system in their facilities. Michigan has one, Stuckey said; Notre Dame is about to install their own; and units are also used by the Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and the New York Jets.

"Some NFL teams had wanted to bring this back as a concept," said Doug Aucoin, who has managed LSU's game and practice film since 1997. "When we were doing this renovation, it gave us an opportunity to carve out the real estate to put this together."

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LSU held a ribbon-cutting event and tour of the football operations building Wednesday, and the two-story, 112,515-square-foot facility included a new locker room with 155 pod-style lockers that fold out into beds; a dining hall filled with a buffet-style collection of various foods such as pizza, meats and seafood; and a players lounge with arcade games and a theater.

The "Walk Through Room," along with the other upgrades, keeps LSU toward the front of the facilities arms race that surges across college athletics, but Aucoin easily explained its practicality.

It's not hard to imagine LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda — a $2.5 million-per-year coach who earned the nickname "The Professor" for his creative schemes and ability to teach — drilling his linebackers through the numerous calls they'd have to make in a game.

Or first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady walking quarterback Joe Burrow through new run-pass-option plays and drilling him on which defensive players he's supposed to read.

Instead of sitting in dark film rooms for long periods of time, players can walk about and learn "kinisthetically" — through carrying out physical activities, rather than listening to a lecture.

LSU safety Grant Delpit, who ranges all over the field, could see the spacing and formation of opposing receivers and creep up the room's "turf" as he would on the football field.

Michael Divinity, an outside linebacker who transitioned to the inside "Mack" linebacker in the spring, can gain more mental reps to understand what calls to make on the field.

"You've got predetermined formations," Aucoin said. "A player can go in motion, and you've got to make your checks and adjustments. So it gives you another way of studying the opponent from a repetition and retention standpoint. They take that and they go to the practice field and do it again in practice."

The virtual program can be as detailed as a coach prefers. Each player can be made to take fine-tuned steps and cuts. There's even an option through which the digital team's uniform can be customized to the colors of the upcoming opponent.

And inside the room, the walls can expand to create more space for the players to move.

"They have an opportunity to get up and come into this controlled environment," said Aucoin, who said the team will likely use the equipment every day. "It's an opportunity for them to walk through a life-size image."

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