Check the Score



By Coug-A-Sutra

Hello Followers.  Hope you’re doing great!

Tomorrow, our young Cougies will convene back in Pullman, gather their belongings, and head on down to Lewiston for the first two weeks of Fall Camp. And let me tell you, I am really excited.

Of course, I’m excited every year.  And the reason for my annual excitement is simple: I am always sure that the coming year will be the one where we break out and score a boat load of points!

And while last year represented the first real upward trajectory for us in the “points scored” department, we still fell a bit short of my expectations.  (And in case you don’t remember, my goal for last year’s team was to average more than 30 points per game).

Check the Score
Yes, this is a total overstatement

My goal for this year’s team?  Well, color me stupid, but I am actually expecting this team to average slightly more than 35 points per game.  Is that unrealistic?  Well, let’s take a look, shall we?


Followers, before we get to today’s post, I wanted to make note that Jeff Nusser over at Cougcenter is once again raising money for the Make-A-Wish foundation.  Last year, the Cougcenter family raised over $10,000 to support kids and their families who are struggling with this awful disease.  This year their goal is $20,000.  So, if you have the means to contribute to this worthwhile cause, please do so!!!!!

Now, back to football.


Followers, whenever I look at ESPN’s national team leaders, the points and yards per game seem ridiculously high.  And the reason for those inflated numbers is due to the statistical “padding” that happens during the non-conference schedule.  I mean, remember the start of 2011 when we averaged 61.5 points per game after the first two games of the season?

Check the Score

Of course, the drubbings that happen frequently when FBS teams play against FCS teams has no predictive value for what will happen once conference play starts and the competition stiffens.  So, when I say that I am hoping that we will average 35 points per game this year, I am referring to our offensive fortunes during conference play–not against the likes of Portland State.

So, how have we done against our conference brethren in recent years?

Well, in 2010 we finished dead last in the Pac-10 at 19.3 points per game in conference.  In 2011, those numbers improved to 23.2 (which was good for 8th in the Pac-12).

In Mike Leach’s first year at the helm of Cougar Nation, those numbers dropped to less than three touchdowns a game (20.0)—which put us at 10th in the conference ahead of CAL and Colorado.

Check the Score
Tracy Clark May Help Determine WSU’s Offensive Output

And then last year, we jumped up to 9th place in the conference—averaging just under four touchdowns a game during conference play (27.1 points per game).

So, for all of you math majors out there, I am expecting this year’s team to exceed last year’s average by a little more than a touchdown per game.

Now, is that doable?  Well, let’s quickly check out the teams that have averaged AT LEAST 35 points per game in conference over the previous four seasons.

2010 2011 2012 2013
Oregon 47.0 44.3 49.8 41.9
Stanford 40.3 43.8
USC 37.9
Arizona State 44.2
Washington 37.1

As you can tell from the table above, only five programs have averaged more than 35 points per game, in conference, in ANY season, over the past four years.  Of those teams, only the 2011 USC Trojans and the 2013 Washington Huskies averaged more than 35 points but less than 40.  This suggests that once a team is good enough to average 5 touchdowns per game, on average, they are good enough to average six.

Of course, while scoring a lot of points is fine and dandy—what really matters is whether that offensive production contributes to winning football.  (see last year’s 48-45 loss to Colorado State as exhibit A-Z)

Check the Score

So, lets cue up the same table and check out each teams’ conference record and divisional finish.

2010 2011 2012 2013
Oregon 9-0  (1st) 8-1 (1st) 8-1 (2nd) 7-2 (2nd)
Stanford 8-1 (2nd) 8-1 (2nd)
USC 7-2 (1st)
Arizona State 8-1 (1st)
Washington 5-4 (3rd)

As you can see, for the past four years, the only team to score 35 points per game in conference and not win at least 7 conference games (and finish first or second in their division) was Washington in 2013.  However, it is important to note that last year’s Washington team still won 9 games including their Bowl Game. What’s more, no team over the past four seasons has averaged 35 points per game and had a losing record in conference.

So, as we look forward to the prospects for a 5-4 conference mark or better—it appears that becoming an offensive juggernaut would enable the Cougs to significantly climb up the conference standings.  Of course, scoring points (and winning games) requires a defense that allows the offense to get on the field, start with favorable field position, and so forth.  So, the success of the Hair Raid defense will undoubtedly influence our fortunes on the offensive side of the ball.

Check the Score

Even so, it appears that a true blue break-out season for Halliday, Leach, and the Air Raid would afford a trip to a high quality bowl this December or January.  And we all know, these kids (and their fans) sure deserve something like that.

That’s all the time I have for today.  We’ll be back next week with some more thoughts as fall camp begins.

All for now.  Go Cougs!

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