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Wake Forest Football Is Joining the Technology Wave

Wake Forest Football Is Joining the Technology Wave

Like with many topics, when it comes to technology, the NCAA is years behind the typical 12-year-old. So while your kids and grandkids can likely hack your social media accounts with relative ease, the NCAA is just now arriving at some technological advances for the 2024 football season. And Wake Forest football is joining the technology wave.

Now don’t get too excited. First downs are still going to be measured with sticks and metal chains, even though the ability to do it digitally exists. And we are still going to put referees under hoods to watch replays for four to five minutes per instance before making a moderately decisive call.

Hearing in the Helmet

But starting with the upcoming season teams will be able to use helmets specially fitted with speakers so that coaches can talk with select players on the field. And the coaching staff will have a limited amount of tablets available to go over “game film” on the sidelines, instead of having to rely on still photos.

Now if you follow the NFL [heck if you follow pee wee football] you have seen these devices in use for years. But this is the first year they will be available at the discretion of college football programs. They put the systems out for a test run during the 2023 bowl season, and now they will be in full use for any school that wants them. Watching games at the pro level, you have undoubtedly seen a quarterback using his hands to cover the ear holes in his helmet so he can hear the coach better in the helmet speakers. Well, welcome to college football 2024.

Schools are allowed to have up to six helmets fitted with wireless speakers. Certainly one will be the quarterback. Likely some teams will use them for the center, and others will be used on defense. The communication is for a coach to talk to an individual player only but obviously, that also includes coordinators and position coaches. Communication is strictly one-way, from coach to player.

Because there are different companies providing the helmets with speakers, we were asked not to take a picture of the Wake Forest helmets.

What This Changes


Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson is mostly on board with the use of the technology. “There are times now that you don’t have to signal everything,” he told us. “You become harder to pick. It becomes harder for teams to pick your signals and know what you’re running.”

He said while everyone has seen the quarterbacks use the special helmets, it will also be beneficial to have some on defense. “Now not everybody has to look at the signal, and you don’t have to signal everything.”

This Spring has also been the first time for Wake quarterback Hank Bachmeier to use the system. His previous school, Louisana Tech, did not make a bowl in 2023, and so was not part of the experiment.

From the Quarterback Perspective

The Demon Deacons have been using it at times during Spring camp, but then also used it last weekend in scrimmage play at Allegacy Stadium. “At first I didn’t like it, because of the adjustment,” Bachmeier told us this week. “You’re so used to looking at the sidelines for the signals. It has been second nature to look at the sidelines.”

Now, though, he is sold. “Now, it’s pretty awesome. You are able to up the tempo of the offense and communicate a lot faster. It’s harder for the defense to get set.” He added that it’s also like having the coach on the field with you. “The coach calls the play. And then he can say, ‘Hey, remember on this play if you get this look or that look make this change.’”

Teams will also have access to up to 18 tablets for the booth and the sidelines. The coaches and players will have access to video footage, pretty much as soon as a series is over. “As you’re talking to the quarterback and saying ‘Hey, on that one I thought the post was open.’ And the quarterback tells us he saw the defender roll there. Now we can look at the video and see,” Clawson said. The new devices are expected to bring more certainty to the information being shared on the sidelines.

The tablets can only be used for video sharing/review. They cannot be connected to any other devices and there can be no data analytics or any other communication through them. Wake has not had them yet, but Clawson said they are coming soon.

Long Past Due

Clawson is rarely one to take chances. He has talked with NFL coaches who have been using forms of the technology for years. With regard to the helmet communications he said he was told the communication does go out from time to time. So he is not giving up on the signals from the sidelines altogether. He said he is preparing for all scenarios.

The irony of the allowances just coming to college football is that it has been available for years. It just typically took the NCAA forever to get there. “You go to any high school game, and they have a whole tent set up with the TV watching the video,” Clawson said. “It just seemed silly that you have this technology and every level of football was using it except for us.”

Murrietta Valley High School in Southern California was certainly one of the high schools with tents and televisions for video use. “I used it in high school,” Bachmeier said of the television/video set up. “You can see in real-time what’s happening and make the adjustments. Now you can have the communication with your offensive coordinator instead of going to the sideline phone from the 1970s or 80s.”

A Season of Changes

As this has been a Spring of significant change for Wake Forest football, Clawson does not completely disregard the old ways when it comes to this topic. “If the system goes down or we can’t use it, then it’s just what I’ve been doing for the last 35 years anyway.”

He mused that in the old systems, part of coaching was that you had to organize your assistants as to what they were looking for and what they were watching. And now with the new technology doing some of it for you? “So we’re going to have more coaches and we’re going to have less for them to do,” he joked.



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