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Random Thoughts - Don't put too much stock in scrimmages
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No. 1 High school scrimmages are making a comeback this summer, and one event that has become more prevalent in Tennessee during the past several years is 7-on-7 competitions. A football coach once told me, “Until they start putting the scores in the paper and the scores count on my season record, I am not concerned with who wins or loses a 7-on-7 or any scrimmage.”

No. 2 Yes, ESPN televises college spring games. The media’s thirst for content can be endless. Nevertheless, let’s get one thing straight. Scrimmages, intrasquad games, and 7-on-7 competitions are not games. 

One major factor is coaches are evaluating talent and often calling different plays during these events. The personnel and play-calling one witnesses in these scrimmages can be entirely different than what will transpire in a regular-season game.

No. 3 I will repeat what the coach told me. Scrimmages are not games; they do not count for or against a team’s record. It is very similar to watching a drill in practice. Scrimmages are, however, a means for coaches to determine how players respond to competition against other teams.

No. 4 Whit Taylor, who was a standout starting quarterback at Vanderbilt in the 80s, played his high school football in his hometown of Shelbyville. His high school coach, Tom Crawford, told me what he told the coaches at Vanderbilt. 

Crawford said, “Don’t think what Whit does in practice is how he performs in a game.” Something transformed Whit Taylor in a game. Taylor was third or fourth quarterback on the depth chart holding a clipboard when players above him became injured. Vanderbilt put Taylor in a game and he became a literal SEC legend.

No. 5 My point is simply that analyzing scrimmages as one would analyze a game is folly. Players are often in different positions during scrimmages. Coaches are running plays to determine what works and doesn’t work. 

Players who will not start in games are playing. Players who are trying to learn the playbook and their positions are not yet at game level. It is June, and there is a lot of growth and personnel decisions to be made before the first Pioneer high school game in August.

No. 6 Warren County football needs conditioning, practices and scrimmages to learn and develop as a football team. The only way inexperienced varsity football players can become productive starters is to attend every practice and scrimmage in the summer. There are very few starters returning to the Pioneer football team this year.

No. 7 There is plenty of talent on the Pioneer football team. Who shows up and who doesn’t show up to practice makes a profound difference, especially when athletes are learning their positions and assignments for the first time. Everyone should encourage every athlete who wants to be on the football team to attend every practice, including scrimmages. 

The real games begin Aug. 20, which is only eight weeks away. The dead period will take away two of those weeks.