Many football aficionados have probably played a game or two, or more, of Madden NFL in their lives.
The highly popular video game has a unique perspective when players are on both sides of the ball, the “camera” just over the quarterbacks head while on offense, and directly behind the defense on the other side of the ball.
Now Seguin High School head coach Travis Bush is getting that same perspective during Matador practices — using a drone that records video while buzzing directly behind and over the heads of his players.
Bush partnered with the robotics class at the school to bring a drone in to give him a closer look at plays being run, and to show him a look he can’t get from cameras in their typical spots around the field.
“It’s a different view,” Bush said at practice earlier this week. “During filmed practices, we’ve got a view from the press box or we’ve got a tower we sit in the end zone.
“But what you’ve seen in the last few years is teams, especially in college and the NFL, using drones. It’s the view you see in NFL games now, and when you watch the film it’s really like a video game.”
The drone gives Bush a different and much closer perspective, a distinct advantage over the camera all the way back at the end of the end zone.
It allows the coach to follow the defender’s eyes.
“You can see the player’s eyes,” Bush said. “You can see where their eyes are going — that’s the biggest thing we’ve found.”
Drones are not cheap, so while the coach didn’t have the money in his budget to purchase one, the robotics class at Seguin High School had one.
“They were somehow where able to get a drone, so we coordinated wth them to have the students come out and fly it,” Bush said. “It’s been a cool deal, it’s helped us to be able to teach in a different detail for this fall camp.”
It was a natural collaboration, as robotics instructor Fernando Mora is one of the freshman football coaches for the Matadors.
Bush had seen a drone at practices at another high school about two years ago.
“I was over at Dripping Springs a couple of years ago and saw them using one,” Bush said. “It’s the day and age we’re in, using technology to find a way to compete and get the best out of what you have.
“We’re excited to use it and we’re enjoying it — it’s helping us teach at a different level.”
The video capabilities of today, with the camera recording to a chip versus film, allows Bush to have the video in hand almost immediately.
“We get off the practice field and by the time we get in and shower, the video is already uploaded,” Bush said. “We can meet and watch the videos, so the speed with how you can get it inputted and watch it is great.”
Juan Garcia, a senior at Seguin, has been tasked with flying the drone at practices and getting the video.
It’s been a work in progress.
“I’m out here every day,” Garcia said. “it was a little hard when I started, because I had a lot of information I had to learn, but over time I started getting the hang of it.”
The video was a little shaky at first as he learned how to fly the drone.
“I’ve gotten the drone and the camera to be smoother, and so the video is smoother,” Garcia said.
Coach Mora chose Garcia to operate the drone out of his robotics class.
“I guess I was volunteered because coach Mora though I was a good choice for it,” he said.
The camera is balanced within the drone by a gimbal, which keeps the camera at the same angle regardless of the movement of the drone.
Garcia had to play with it a little bit to get it right.
“I went into the settings and messed around with the gimbal, and that made it smoother,” Garcia said.
Garcia has played Madden before, and the videos he’s seen were more than similar.
“It reminded me a lot of Madden,” he said. “It’s the view I’m getting with the camera, right behind the quarterback.”
He’s improved the speed with which he gets the drone into position over the last couple of weeks of practice.
“I don’t miss plays as much, I’m getting there a lot faster,” Garcia said.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at email@example.com .