Georgia Tech: Where Special Teams Aren't Necessarily Special...

When you're looking at Special teams statistics, you see kicking percentages, punting and kickoff distances, coverage type stuff, and return yardage. The singular most important factor in special teams is often missing: field position. Good special teams gets the offense out of the shadow of their own goal post. Good special teams pins an opponent on their own 10 yard line with a sky high punt. So let's check out some basic special teams stats:

Spec1_medium

On initial inspection of special teams stats, it would appear GT is on par or better in several special teams stats. We don't have a great punt team but our kick coverage and field goal team appear to be pretty good. What is left out? Field position is left out of these basic stats. Where is GT after it fields a punt? Where is our opponent after we punt to them? This is where things fall apart for Georgia Tech. I broke it down below with SC State/MTSU in the first row and without in the second

Spec2_medium

Basically, against BCS-calibre opponents, we're giving up 9 yards of field position every exchange of punts. We've punted about four times per game so opponents are basically being spotted 36 yards per game because of poor coverage, short punts, shanks, or penalties. We're matching up fine with our BCS opponents in kickoff coverage concerning starting field position.

The following table is the table that explains what everyone is seeing but can't find on cfbstats.com. It's a table of how many punts and kickoffs result in a drive inside the 20, a touchback, or outside of the twenty. For example, Georgia Tech stops all opposing kick returners inside the twenty 19% of the time and only 9% of all Georgia Tech punts result in a touchback.

Spec3_medium

In this chart, the important section is the bottom three rows (stats without SC State and MTSU). Note that 73% of kick returners on BCS caliber teams get past the twenty against Georgia Tech's coverage team. 70% of all Georgia Tech punts result in an opposing drive starting outside of the twenty yard line. We're only returning 65% of kickoffs outside the twenty and only 52% of all punts received result in GT starting outside the twenty. We're giving up field position left and right on special teams. We already knew this team was struggling with respects to field position. Factor in a bad kicking game and we're an even worse offensive and defensive football team.
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