In my experience, there's no such thing as luck...

In case you haven't noticed, I've been presenting the media's big questions during GT's 2010 offseason and attempting to answer them. For example, "Can Anthony Allen replace Jonathan Dwyer?" or "How big are the shoes left behind by Demaryius Thomas?" or more recently "How questionable is our offensive line depth?" Today's line of thinking derives from the theory that GT won on luck last year and that GT's luck will run out (hence, all of the preseason predictions of 4th in the Coastal). Check out the following chart. These are the records of teams in the ACC in one possession games in 2010:

Luck_medium


Georgia Tech, BC, and Miami were the only teams in the black in one possession games last season. And a lot of pundits are suggesting that it was a lucky streak for Georgia Tech not a run by a superior squad against closely matched foes. I'm arguing that Georgia Tech's success in close games last season was a function of coaching and talent not luck.

The first piece of evidence I'd like to present is Paul Johnson's record in one possession games since he joined the I-A head coaching ranks in 2002. He hasn't had a losing record in one possession games since his second year at Navy. Six years in a row of 0.500 or better in one possession games isn't luck. That's called a trend. Check out the chart:
Luck2_medium


Another factor was the debate on whether or not to punt on 4th down. Paul Johnson has attempted 54 first downs while coaching Georgia Tech (6th most in NCAA 2008-2009). Why does he gamble like a mad man? Momentum is the best answer I can give you. Tech scored a touchdown on 34.9% of their drives in 2009. On drives where we converted a fourth down, we scored a touchdown 42.3% of the time. A 4th down conversion is a powerful psychological weapon against an opposing defense. And we already pointed out that opponents scored more points per drive when they received a punt from Tech than when Paul Johnson opted to go for it and the offense failed to convert. Someone must be doing something right at Tech as GT has converted 50% of its 4th down conversions while opponents have only converted 41%.

What about trick play success rate? In 2008, we ran four trick plays: 2 reverses, a pass to a tackle, and a direct snap to an up-back. This netted us 42 yards and only one play failed to convert a first down (Derrick Morgan's direct snap). In 2009, Tech managed to score 2 touchdowns and rack up 118 yards of offense on 6 reverses to Stephen Hill and a pass from place kicker Scott Blair. Only two of the plays failed giving us a success rate of 67% (holding negated a 21 yard reverse and one reverse was a TFL).

And now, let's review trick plays run against us. Clemson tried one in 2008...we scored a touchdown on it. They tried again in 2009 and we scored again! Mississippi State executed a successful 10 yard reverse on us for a touchdown in Starkville. LSU recovered an onside kick against Tech and successfully executed a fake punt pass in the 2008 Peach Bowl. FSU and VT failed to recover onside kicks against Tech in 2009. So opponents have converted 3 out of 7 trick plays since CPJ's been here. Hardly a substantial sample size but I'd like to think it shows the bright lights from the football gods typically favor Tech.

GT and Paul Johnson have shown some incredible numbers in the "lucky" categories. What do you all think? Is it all luck? Will this streak continue as CPJ guides the Jackets?

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