UA FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Turning things up a notch

Booming sound system trying to help Wildcats find poise in the noise
2012-08-05T00:00:00Z Arizona football: Turning things up a notchRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 05, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats entered Kindall/Sancet Stadium on Thursday night to a song by the hardcore punk band Refused.

The track's title - "New Noise" - was practically perfect.

The first training camp of the Rich Rodriguez era will feature plenty of new noise, most of it coming from a 75,000-watt sound system designed to streamline football practice and create a game-like atmosphere during long summer workouts.

Arizona's new Tempo Practice System is the biggest and loudest in college football; the sheer size and sound has already changed the way the Wildcats work.

Each of the four speaker banks is about the size of a starting left tackle, only wider.

Rodriguez hopes the system, which costs about $120,000, will give his team an advantage as it prepares for its Sept. 1 home opener against Toledo.

"We're trying to create an environment and a little bit of a distraction for our players," he said.

As for the noise?

"I know some of the locals may not like it," Rodriguez said with a chuckle, "but at least we're doing it at 6 in the evening instead of 6 in the morning."

UA coaches have long played music at their practices, a way to keep players motivated and pass the time during an often-tedious time of year. Former coach Mike Stoops let his support staff pick the music, a mix of hip-hop and country that blared through two on-field speakers.

Rodriguez took things a step further shortly after being hired in November. With recruiting coordinator Matt Dudek leading the way, the Wildcats' staff rigged a golf cart with two speakers, attached via bungee cords. Dudek adopted a musical nickname - DJ Matty D- as he pumped high-energy tracks during spring camp.

Coaches decided to up the noise quotient for the start of fall training camp. Representatives from CoachComm, the company that handles Arizona's game-day headsets and communications, demonstrated the Tempo system for the staff in April. Rodriguez ordered the $40,000 main control pod and four speaker banks; the system was delivered and installed last month.

"That golf cart was good to us," Dudek said. "I kind of liked the informality of it. But then we went to the polar opposite of it."

The Tempo system offers coaches the one thing they desperately crave: Total control.

Dudek and operations coordinator Billy Kirelawich upload the Wildcats' practice schedule, segment by segment, into the Tempo system every day.

Using the Tempo's touch-screen display, a portable wand or voice controls, coaches can extend, shorten or stop practice, pipe in music or add crowd noise instantly. A booming, computer-generated voice announces the start of every period. Gone are the portable air horns that have traditionally signaled the start and stop of each practice.

The noise, which wide receiver Dan Buckner calls "stupid-loud," should allow the Wildcats to better prepare for hostile environments. The team will communicate solely through hand signals during practices and in games. The chatty Buckner said he's tried to talk over the new speakers, only to give up.

"When you have them on full blast, you can't hear anything," he said. "It really gets you to tune in, listen to the signals."

The idea of digitizing practices was "very much driven by Division I coaches themselves," said Matt Gage, CoachComm's project manager. Oregon, Minnesota, Utah and Wyoming all bought smaller versions of the Tempo system when it was first unveiled last year. Miami (Fla.), Arkansas, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette and the UA all purchased Tempos during the offseason.

"As a coach, what else can you do to prepare your kids to play on Saturdays? This is another way to get that competitive advantage," Gage said. "It's getting kids ready to play in a hostile environment."

For the Wildcats, it's an edge that many other teams don't have. Coaches will use the booming speakers to announce students of the week and award-winners once the school year starts. Dudek said he might introduce certain players, boxer-style, as they enter the practice facility "for positive reinforcement."

Cover your ears. It'll be noisy.

"It's louder than a concert," Dudek said. "It's maybe louder than the stadium."

arizona's training camp schedule

All practices closed to the public; start times subject to change.

• Monday: 6-8 p.m.

• Tuesday: 6-8 p.m.

• Wednesday: 8-10 a.m.

• Thursday at Fort Huachuca: 7:30-9:30 a.m. and 6:15-8:15 p.m.

• Friday at Fort Huachuca: 8-10:30 a.m.

• Aug. 11 at Fort Huachuca: 8:30-10:30 a.m. and scrimmage at 5:30 p.m.

• Aug. 12 at Fort Huachuca: Leadership Reaction Course, 8:45-11:45 a.m.

• Aug. 13: 8:15-10:15 a.m.

• Aug: 14: 8:30-10:30 a.m. and 6-8 p.m.

• Aug. 15: 6-8 p.m

• Aug. 16: 8:30-10:30 a.m. and 6-8 p.m.

• Aug. 17: 2:30-4:30 p.m.

• Aug: 18: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

• Aug. 19: Meet the Team Day in McKale Center, time TBA

• Aug. 20: First day of classes, regular-season practices begin

Training camp: Day 3

At Kindall/Sancet Stadium

• Temperature at start: 100 degrees and humid

• Walk-on watch: Alex Cappellini joined the Wildcats last winter as a transfer from Orange Coast College in California. The lefty started his career at Humboldt State before going the JC route; he'll challenge B.J. Denker and a handful of other quarterbacks for the No. 2 spot.

• The big number: 10-2. Cappellini's record as a starter during his senior season at Phoenix Pinnacle High School.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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