Hello, and happy birthday to me. On account of it being my birthday — a day that bestows upon the recipient the right to be somewhat of a nuisance with impunity — I was gonna give myself the treat of not writing an intro. But then I wrote this and then some, so...
Instead, I’m giving myself the somewhat annoying (for you guys) present of making my assigned countdown day be about something pretty stupid. And also the present of not putting that much effort into it.
Anyways, the dumb topic of today: scrimmage scores.
As I’m sure most of you know, UW over fall camp had four scrimmages, two of which had official scores, one which had none but rumors, and one about which no scoring information was even remotely hinted at. Regarding the first two, while there weren’t really rumblings of the first scrimmage’s score, the second scrimmage was supposedly something like 17 - 12.
Peyton Henry with the walk-off FG as time expires to lift the Gold squad to Victory!!— Jimmy Lake (@CoachLakeUDUB) October 25, 2020
Final ... Gold 9 - Purple 6 #BowDown
...Before the pendulum swung in the last scrimmage to:
Pre-Season Game 4...— Jimmy Lake (@CoachLakeUDUB) October 29, 2020
Final - Purple 59 Gold 52 #BowDownToWashington
...And then it was revealed that James was just screwing with us the whole time because he's a sadistic evil supervillain who enjoys making Washington fans suffer:
But all of this got me thinking — what's the "right” score for an intra-team scrimmage? Ya know, one where it doesn't leave you freaked out that either the offense or defense is absolute garbage?
Granted, the ideal score will differ depending on the team and the unknowns versus already-established safe assumptions.
For example, if you’re looking at one of those Cal seasons — let’s say 2015 — under Sonny Dykes when they were doing the Bear Raid and had Jared Goff returning, it would’ve been a pretty solid assumption that, barring acts of God (such as, I dunno, a late night lightning storm), they’re gonna score a lot of points. So a score of 9 - 6 or 59 - 52 would carry some different implications than those scores (or non-scores) for 2020’s Dawgs.
Safe to say, that is not the assumption we’re making for Washington this year. Ours would probably be:
- The defense is — wait for it — good
- The defense is also not unstoppable
- The dropoff from 1s to 2s to 3s is much less dramatic on defense than offense
So pretty much, unless somehow all the prior evidence that those two things are true implodes with no apparent explanation, most of what we’d be trying (with varying levels of success) to deduce would then be:
- Does the offense suck shit?
- Is the defense absolutely crazy lights out or can it be beaten?
Obviously the problem is the answer to both of these questions looks the same on a scoreboard. So if the defense kicking ass and the offense being ass looks the same, what’s the happy medium where we as fans can breathe... well... not easy, but... better?
Luckily, after wracking my brain for full seconds — nay, minutes! — to consider the answer, I came up with some finalists. And they are these:
Twenty-four came up a lot when I was trying to figure out ideal scores. I can’t fully explain why, but after trying for, like, two whole seconds (because again, my b-day present to myself is being lazy), I think 24 is golden because of a couple things:
A) You can reasonably win games with 24 points, and
B) If you’re scoring 24 points on a defense that we already know is good and that knows your playbook so is effectively handicapping you, then that implies you’ll at least be scoring 30+ against real opponents more often than not.
Moreover, because we can reasonably assume until proven otherwise that the dropoff from ones to twos to threes is greater on offense than defense, a score this tight would seem to imply that “otherwise” bit — that maybe the mashup of backups on offense could actually be more useful than we’d think.
The last thing about this score that remains true for all of the options below, too: they’re still low enough where it doesn’t make us start second-guessing the defense. After all, we know they’re good — and likely very very good — but losing Levi Onwuzurike and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, plus figuring out who will provide the right skillset at ILB alongside Eddie Ulofoshio means there are areas with a wee bit of uncertainty, even with the player pool to choose from at all three of those areas. This score and the following ones all cap out around here to keep us from freaking out about potential disaster on that side of the ball, no matter how unlikely that is.
I suppose the difference here is both these ending in field goals. Besides the fact that it means we know both Peyton Henry and Tim Horn can, indeed, still kick field goals, that gives you the additional happy feelings about knowing there were at least two scenarios where the offense did good enough to drive down the field while the defense still held onto their past skill of tightening up once opposing offenses, well... drive down the field.
That means at least four quality drives by the winning offense and three by the losers, both of whom are, again, handicapped by playing against the defense that knows their playbook and is always the pillar of this team. That’s something you can work with.
Just like the above, except the winners only have three successful drives, maaaaybe more if they resulted in a missed field goal, except knowing how consistent Peyton Henry was last year that’s not super unlikely and would probably mean that drive barely made it into his range anyway.
Whether you prefer this or the above score I suppose comes down to how much you personally would rather see evidence of a dominant defense or be given seeds of hope for a more explosive offense. I’ll let you guys fight out in the comments which attitude is The Best.
Personally I feel like this one’s getting a bit close to “Let’s freak out about the offense” territory. Like, it’s not there yet, but it’s walkin’ that line. The defense’s advantage still applies, but depending on how big you feel that is, that could mean the offense could just expect to put up anywhere from 24 - 30ish against non-terrible teams. Those aren’t anemic amounts of points to put up, especially with how much Washington’s defense usually allows (or doesn’t), but that level of offense takes me back to the types of games like the Dawgs against Oregon or USC or Utah last year. In other words: not total crap, but not dependable. And you will lose some doing that. And you’ll put your defense in a position to give up more. The double deuce of offensive “meh”-ness.
Furthermore, if you’re a great team, you will play another great team during bowl season. And great teams have at least good defenses. And your offense will need to score.
I don’t know what it is about 24 feeling like the magic number, but it is somehow. This score is also just a lil’ variation on the second option but could be more appealing if you’re someone who wants to see the (presumably) defensive depth be dominant.
On the other hand, what gets a little freaky is if that winning side is a mix of the second team offense with with the first team defense — then all the sudden you’re looking at an offensive starting group that only scores 14 against a good defense, and yet the offense who’s supposedly “worse” than that offense was able to put up 24 against the defensive depth. Which then means that defensive depth can’t be too hot either. Luckily, that’s probably not super likely. But still...
In fact, eff that. I hate this score.
What intra-squad scrimmage score makes you feel the best about 2020 Washington’s outlook?
This poll is closed
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.