Part of the gameplan for this new, unprecedented 2020 season is to keep the players healthy and safe on the field. That extends to the equipment, including the helmets the players wear.
The first trial run of a new helmet design at LSU this summer was met with mixed reviews. The face mask, which covered the whole helmet, made it hard for the players to breathe.
One of the running videos on social media that week was right tackle Austin Deculus saying it’s like trying to breathe “in a ziploc bag.” Coach Ed Orgeron responded to the new helmets, saying there will be an adjustment period with them.
“We all played football, if I had something on where I couldn’t breathe, I wouldn’t be comfortable,” Orgeron said on Off the Bench. “I think it’s just going to be an adjustment period, work through it and we’re going to have some different choices.”
So the program went back to the drawing board. Now, a new development has popped up. Back on Aug. 21, the LSU Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization filed a patent that offered cooling and circulation technology. The news was made public by the school on Thursday.
The new devices leverage the passive air vents in the helmet and make them active with small battery-driven fans attached to flexible tubing. The tubes can be customized and mounted to the inside of the helmet to direct air wherever it’s needed, usually forward and downward over the face, toward a visor or plastic face shield. For added protection, N95 filter material can be added at the intake.
The technology will hopefully help in making the helmets all the more comfortable for the players moving forward.
“Player health and safety is a top priority at LSU,” coach Ed Orgeron said. “Our staff makes sure our players have the best equipment and technology so we can have them on the field as safe as possible.”
LSU head athletic trainer Jack Marucci also talked about how the new technology will make wearing the helmets a little more bearable during those hot September outings.
“Players always talk about how nice it is when there’s a breeze outside, and this new helmet technology creates a similar sensation of coolness,” Marucci said. “The benefit is even greater for players who wear protective eye shields because it eliminates the possibility of any fog developing inside that can obstruct the player’s vision.”
This is just the latest innovation that Orgeron and the football program have embraced since he received the job in 2017. The use of technology in the weight room was also something that helped keep the players fresh throughout the season in 2019,
The technology, called Perch, is a way to track an athlete’s movement through velocity-based training, a method of training based on how fast an athlete moves a certain weight as opposed to how much weight is actually on the rack. Technology like Perch allows coaches and athletes to determine the speed of movement in real time and adjust the weight or exercise accordingly.
The helmet design a few weeks back brought up a breathing problem among players, which seems to be fixed with this new invention. This is just the latest piece of technology the program will use in trying to help on field performance, and likely will keep the design of the helmet from changing too much.