Penn State Football: History Says Don't Worry Too Much About The Blue White Score
April 16, 2018 12:15 PM
by Ben Jones
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This time of year raises the same question over and over again. Does the spring game really matter?

It does for players that's for sure. It's a last chance to make an impression heading into the true offseason before training camp a few months later. It's an opportunity to finish on a high note after 14 practices and a chance for new faces to show what they've learned so far.

But this also isn't the team's first scrimmage, so if you're a few pegs down the depth chart that probably isn't going to change, and a few mistakes here or there isn't going to knock a starter out of a job. Maybe coaches get to see how players perform in front of a crowd, but for the most part their minds have already been made when it comes to a good portion of the roster.

And recruiting, the spring game is more of a program showcase than it is a scrimmage that's going to make or break a season. It's a chance to put fans in the stands, and show off the attention your team gets even for what really amounts to a practice that doesn't really mean all that much.

What about the result itself on the field?

There is a tendency to make a lot of spring games. Lots of points and fans worry about the defense, few points and fans worry about the offense. There really isn't a happy medium, it's your favorite team playing your favorite team, so how exactly do you win? Somebody is going to look like the weakness either way.

The real question is how offensive and defensive outputs in the scrimmage have reflected the season ahead, or if they have at all. If you can really make anything of the final score with a limited playbook, scheme familiarity and rosters that mix and match players that might not otherwise be playing together, or at all.

This weekend will mark his fifth Blue White game under James Franklin, and those results have't really meant much. So far the offense has averaged 29 points per Blue White game while averaging 30 points in the regular season. Conversely the defense has given up 20 points per game during the season, nine fewer than the Blue White average.

James Franklin:

Offense scores 29 ppg in Blue White Game and 30 ppg in regular season. Defense gives up 29 in Blue White Game and 20 ppg in season

Blue White scores:

2017: 26-0 (Offense regular season points per game 41. Defensive points per game allowed during regular season,16)

2016: 37-0 (37/25)

2015: 17-7 (23/21)

2014: 37-0 (20/18)

So really, during the Franklin era the Blue White game has been hit or miss in terms of getting any real value out of the actual score. Penn State has scored more points in the regular season following low scoring Blue White games and has scored about the same number of points per game during high scoring games under Joe Moorhead.

Basically, there's no way to know. In turn, no real reason to get all that worked up for the good or the bad.

Prior to Bill O'Brien introducing a new scoring system for the game during his time at Penn State, the final three Blue White games under Joe Paterno tell a similar story. The defense usually plays better and the offense usually does too.

Joe Paterno final three Blue White scores:

2010: 17-3 (Offense regular season points per game, 24. Defense regular season points allowed per game 23)

2009: 21-18 (28/12)

2008: 27-14 (39/14)

So in short, don't worry. Penn State will probably look good and look bad on Saturday, but if history is any indication, whatever the final score ends up being, it probably won't be a reflection of anything you will see this fall.

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