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Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Take Scrimmage Stats Too Seriously

With spring practice come spring scrimmages.  Often closed to the media, reporters and fans alike are left to sift through officially-released stats and statements, looking for insight into how School X’s football team is coming together.

There’s only one problem with spring scrimmages.  You can’t tell much about ‘em.  Here are four quick reasons why you should take scrimmage reports with a grain of salt this spring:


1.  When it comes to closed scrimmages, you’re left to trust that coaching staffs are releasing accurate information.  You might remember the suggestions made last year that Jordan Jefferson’s passing numbers at LSU might have been “adjusted” just a bit by a coach who wanted to build up his quarterback to the Tiger fanbase.  When push came to shove and Jefferson actually stepped on the field in the fall, well, let’s just say he hadn’t evolved into Aaron Rodgers after all.  When scrimmages are closed, there’s no telling what really went on behind those locked gates.

2.  Even when scrimmages are open, how do you know that what looks good isn’t really a sign of something bad?  Perfect example: “Man, our running backs are putting up some monster numbers this spring!”  That could indeed mean that your favorite school’s running backs and O-lineman are going to be fantastic.  But another translation might be that your squad’s run defense, D-line and linebackers are abysmal.  If a passing game looks good in the spring, does that mean the offense is actually good?  Or does it mean the defense is porous on the back end?  You can’t tell from a scrimmage.

3.  Coaches focus on certain plays and players for their own purposes.  These scrimmages are not actual games.  A perfect example of this actually comes from the NFL ranks.  During exhibition games — and those are more game-like than college scrimmages — coaches will often call plays with the sole intent of getting tape of a player executing a specific call.  Some NFL coaches could care less about winning and losing exhibition games because they’re simply trying to see which of their left guards does a better job on “686 Pump F-Stop.”  College coaches control their scrimmages, too.  More likely they’re grading players, not trying to win practice sessions.

4.  When you see that the Red Team “beat” the Blue Team, ask yourself: Who’s on each team?  Does your coach run his first-string offense against his second-team defense?  Or does he believe in using the 1s against the 1s?  Is one team stacked with starters?  Is the other unit packed with scrubs?


We realize we’re going to be bringing you many headlines regarding scrimmages in the coming weeks.  Just remember when you read those stories that you really can’t tell a whole heckuva lot by what’s written and said.

Until your school lines up against another school this fall and uses its best players and best plays to try to actually win a game… everything remains a big bit of guesswork.

 


2 comments
Ubiquitous GA Alum
Ubiquitous GA Alum

You mean like this from the LSU scrimmage on Sat? ... 53 rushes for 287 yards & 22 completions for 278 & 4TDs ... BTW, the defense somehow amassed 6 sacks while giving up 565 yards

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Ubiquitous GA Alum...

 

Bingo.

 

Thanks for reading,

John



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