I apologize for not publishing the NCST: By The Numbers post last week, but in retrospect, I think it has actually been a good thing in that it has allowed me to reflect on the last three weeks worth of data and notice some negative trends. All aspects of the offensive side of the ball are down (rushing, passing, scoring) while the teams we have faced have gotten worse defensively as well.
All rankings and numbers are courtesy of CFBStats.com.
Follow along after the jump to see the numbers that define this offensive downward spiral.
When Georgia Tech faced UNC, they were up against a national top-ten defense. In that game they put up almost 500 total yards of offense on 6.89 ypp, but were held to only 35 points on 0.49 ppp, both of which were season lows and both of which should have been expected considering the level of UNC's defense. While the game itself wasn't overly sloppy, there were some things that we all noticed right away as problems that could get us in trouble later in the season. Washington's throws were getting progressively less accurate and started looking less like lasers and more like a flopping javelin throw. We also noticed the return of block hands by our receivers, not many, but enough to keep the score closer than it should have been.
Heading into Week 5, NCST was near the bottom of the ACC in Total Defense and somewhere in the 60's nationally allowing roughly 5.62 ypp. Statistically, GT ripped them for 6.45 ypp total, and I think that the game went well overall. However, we posted our lowest yard totals - 296 yds rushing (although that's only one yard less than against WCU), 117 yds passing, and 413 yds total. For passing, that's 9.75 ypp after posting 22.81, 21.4, 23.43, and 13.14 the last four weeks. Dropping 45 pts on 0.7 ppp is nice though. There were additional points left on the field due to not pitching the ball on the option, and again, while it wasn't often enough to really hurt us, it was there and noticeable.
Maryland was ranked 11th in the ACC and was allowing roughly 6.75 ypp before the facing Georgia Tech this past weekend. They currently sit at 84th nationally in total defense allowing 6.0 ypp. This game truly displayed all of the bad aspects of the 2010 team and what we all hoped we wouldn't see this year. There were dropped passes by the WR's, some of the worse looking throws by Washington I've seen since Ball, and then there was Washington doing his best Days impression completely missing reads all game long. If I have to give him credit for anything, it's for those two or three plays where he looked to pitch and I about threw my beer threw the screen because if he had it probably was going to be caught by the defensive players and returned for a TD. At least he didn't give it up when he shouldn't. That's a much worse outcome than not pitching at all.
The numbers back up everything we saw Saturday. The GT offense that had been averaging nearly 600 ypg was held to season lows yet again - 272 yds rushing, 114 yds passing, and 386 yds total. That's 4.53 ypp, 5.43 ypp, and 4.77 ypp respectively. And for the first time this year, Georgia Tech posted a negative ypp margin of -.036 and we had our first negative TO margin of -1. It was our worst ppp (0.26) and ppp margin (0.01) also. Basically, Tech had a horrible game offensively and it showed everywhere on the field and everywhere in the numbers.
After the game we heard from both CPJ and Tevin Washington about missing reads and not pitching. At least the problem is known by all parties and that should give us hope that the issue will be resolved quickly. While being able to land every haymaker pass we attempt would go a long way to stretching the defense and pushing leads, Georgia Tech's offense can survive without making every throw. It can not, however, survive a QB who can't see or make the right reads. This offense is wholly dependent on Washington being able to make the proper decision at the proper moment. Let's hope CPJ and Washington put in the extra effort in the film room and on the practice field this week to ensure that we don't see another poor performance Saturday against UVA.
Quickly, against NCST we went 4-12 on 3rd downs, 1-2 on 4th downs, and 5-6 in the redzone. Against MD, we were much better on 3rd down going 13-20 (the most 3rd down attempts of the season which is telling all in itself), 0-1 on 4th downs, and 3-5 in the redzone. Tech is still better in all three categories than they were last year and I think that has helped over the last three weeks.
Finally, while noting and understanding that there were some obvious problems over the past few games, I don't think it's time for any extreme doom-and-gloom reactions, but instead it's simply a small dose of reality. Before the season started a few of us here made some fairly reaching predictions as far as W-L records goes and I think the early domination and ridiculous numbers put up helped enforce that kool-aid addiction of ours. However, we also stated that a reality based season that could be deemed a success was if the Yellow Jackets were to finish with 8-9 wins and simply win their bowl game. Anything beyond that would be peach cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream on top. Expecting this team which consists of almost all skill players from last year to maintain the wild level of success is unreasonable as we have yet to face Clemson, Miami, VPI, and uga.
That being said, I think we can finish the season with a winning record and I do believe that we have a chance at winning all of the games against the teams I just mentioned. In fact, currently UVA has a better defense than all those save uga, allowing only 4.6 ypp good for 16th nationally. The rest are Miami (97th - 5.9ypp), Clemson (72nd - 5.6ypp), VPI (23rd - 4.8ypp), Duke (106th - 6.2ypp), and uga (6th - 4.1ypp). Clemson is on beast mode right now and need a serious bubble bursting, Miami is struggling with suspensions and now major injuries, VPI just released the reigns on their highly touted young QB, but have also struggled with injuries, and uga is steaming along while dealing with arrests and transfers. The talent on those teams will be tough, but I think we can do it so long as we address and correct the issues we have identified over the last few weeks. Here's hoping they do just that.
TO HELL WITH UVA!