Personnel isn't the only change for the Stanford football team as it prepares to host Kansas State in its season opener on Sept. 2.
Several improvements have been implemented, including: three new 8K Solutions video trailers and studio controllers for the practice field; Shadowman tackling dummies; and the APTUS learning assessment program.
All were introduced to increase safety, efficiency and productivity.
Practice, practice, practice
Prior to this season, Stanford used four scissor lifts to video practice. They could be extended 45 feet above the ground and had 4x10 platforms for staff to stand and film full-field individual, group and team workouts.
Now, Stanford uses three motorized trailers: one for the sideline and each end zone.
They raise four air-compressed 720p resolution, high-quality studio surveillance cameras resembling a periscope. Each can climb 55 feet and is operated on the ground by a staff member, and can be preset to record selected drills.
Digital cards are inserted in the monitors and removed every two or three periods -- there are usually 12, which are collected by coaches and graduate assistants for evaluation during and after practice.
"It gives us flexibility," said Mike Gleeson, Stanford's director of video operations. "We don't have to carry out tripods and cameras because it is self-contained. And we are more secure below."
After being an eye in the sky for 33 years, Gleeson is adjusting to shooting from ground level.
"I used to be able to scan the whole field with one eye and shoot with the other," he said. "Now I only see what the camera sees."
Stanford now utilizes five water-based, inflatable Shadowman tackling dummies. They can be easily moved for contact drills and reduce player contact. Three sections of the dummy are marked 1-2-3, so coaches can teach better tackling techniques.
In addition, many players have switched to a SpeedFlex helmet made by Riddell.
"Last year, we had about 10 guys wearing it," said assistant equipment manager Mike Lane. "Now we have about 45."
The chinstrap on the SpeedFlex helmet locks down on the bottom instead of snapping. The top of the helmet is anchored. In all, the chin strap is attached four ways.
"If your helmet comes off during a game, you have to sit out for one play," Lane said. "This tremendously lessens that possibility."
IPad, your pad
More than 100 new iPads are being used by coaches and players containing playbooks for offense, defense and special teams. In 2012, Stanford became the first college program to use iPad playbooks, saving countless trees, dollars and man-hours.
The program is now using APTUS Sports to maximize athletic and academic development. Prior to the season, each player completed 10 game-like exercises in 30 minutes on a special tablet that assessed how quickly and accurately they learn, react and adjust. Aptus analyzed individual, group and team data, and reported the findings to the coaching staff.
"We really consider them brainteasers," said Aptus consultant Eric Vaughn, who recently made a campus visit. "There are no No. 2 pencils, or wrong or right answers. It's not about intelligence or grade-point averages. Everybody learns the way they learn. And while there are certainly developmental strategies among groups of people, how to best develop someone is based off of the understanding of how they best learn."
Based in Austin, Texas, the company has been working with professional teams for four years and is now assisting college football teams.
Coaching continuity remains a hallmark of the Stanford football program.
Nine of 10 coaches return, the only change coming at defensive line, where Diron Reynolds replaced the retired and nationally-respected Randy Hart.
Reynolds isn't a stranger to The Farm, having served as a defensive assistant for Hart in 2014 before spending last year at Oklahoma.
Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw and Willie Shaw Director of Defense Lance Anderson are back for their 10th seasons, while Andrew Luck Director of Offense Mike Bloomgren and special teams coach Pete Alamar enter their sixth and fifth years, respectively.
In addition, Kissick Director of Sports Performance Shannon Turley and head football athletic trainer Steve Bartlinski return for their 10th seasons.
Out of the 12 graduate assistants and coaching assistants supporting Stanford football, 10 are holdovers. Defensive assistants Tyrone McKenzie and Toure Carter are new additions.
Reed Miller made the transition from student-athlete to graduate assistant. The team's long snapper for the past four years, Miller is working on his master's degree in communication.
For the first time in program history, Stanford has added recruiting assistants Garrett Wolfe and Alexa Malone to support efforts to attract the nation's top student-athletes.
Other newcomers to the program include sports performances coaches Grant Steen and Darius Reese, assistant athletic trainer Curt Snyder and equipment manager Chris Dountas. Video producer Ryan O'Rorke also enters his first year with the program.
Stanford has implemented a clear bag policy to provide a safer environment for the public and expedite fan entry into Stanford Stadium.
This policy does not change what you can bring in, only how it can be brought into the facility. Fans may continue to bring in items such as blankets, jackets, permitted food and beverages.
The policy limits the size and types of bags permitted. For more information, visit GoStanford.com/AllClear.
New concession items at Stanford Stadium include: footlong corn dog, spinach artichoke dip with chips, salted caramel pudding, butter cake with Haagen-Dazs, crab cakes, pesto cream penne, ragu bolognese penne, loaded baked potato soup, and smash pea and barley soup.
Stanford Athletics has partnered with Stanford Public Safety and the City of Palo Alto Police Department to restructure its post-game traffic patterns in order to get vehicles out of the area more effectively and efficiently.
For the season ticket holder
Fans with season tickets may enter Stanford Stadium in any gate. Gates 6, 9 and 12 are designated exclusively for season ticket members. Exclusive entry access for season ticket members is also available at Gates 2 and 4.
Conference rule change
The Pac-12 Conference has instituted a post-game field-rushing policy. Even more, Stanford has implemented a security plan to effectively prevent spectators from rushing the field and throwing objects onto the playing surface.
In the event that field-rushing activities occur within 60 seconds after the completion of a game, an automatic fine shall be assessed to the host institution. If the visiting team, staff members, working personnel, and game officials safely exit from the field during the 60-second time period, the Pac-12 commissioner may waive the fine.
An automatic fine of $25,000 will be assessed for an institution's first offense of field-rushing activities that occur within 60 seconds after completion of a game, $50,000 for a second offense and $100,000 for a third offense.
Please help us keep you safe at Stanford Stadium.