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Georgia Tech at Duke Film Review

Taking a deeper look at last week's game

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

This year I am taking part in Football Study Hall's game charting project. Each week a number of us chart select games around the country to take an in depth look at each play in a game to track certain factors. For instance on passing plays we look at the number of blockers, number of rushers, the depth of each throw, and many other items. Here are some of my observations after watching the film.

The Formations

Everyone has seemed to make a big deal out of the multiple formations we were running this week, so I wanted to take a deeper look at what we were running and how often we ran them. So here is a table showing how often we ran each formation.

Formation Number of plays run
Full House (Diamond) 25
Flexbone 25
Flexbone - Twins 11
Flexbone - Tight 7
Flexbone - Pistol 3

So Georgia Tech primarily ran their new Full House formation (Vad in the Pistol, a B-back behind him, and two A-backs standing next to him in the backfield) as well as our traditional flexbone formation with an A-back on each side and Vad under center. But this is From The Rumble Seat, You know we are going to do a more in depth analysis than just that. The following table shows how often Georgia Tech ran or threw the ball out of each formation, as well as the average yards gained out of each.


Num of Runs /

Num of Passes

Avg Yards Gained

(Run / Pass)

Full House 20 / 5 7.8 / 5.2
Flexbone 25 / 0 4.6 / NA
Flexbone - Twins 7 / 4 5.14 / 7.0
Flexbone - Tight 5 / 2 6.0 / 9.5
Flexbone - Pistol 0 / 3 NA / 17.33

So we like to run the ball in our base flexbone set; we did not attempt a pass out of that formation this week. Woh. In addition our Full House formation was our most successful formation, averaging nearly 8 yards per carry on running plays out of that formation. Out of those 20 runs, 10 of them were the zone read with Vad reading the defensive end and either handing the ball to the outside, or cutting it up the middle. The long run to Robbie Godhigh was an example of this play. Anything else you guys are interested in when it comes to formations?

Vad's Passing

The ESPN box score will tell you that Vad Lee was 8-16 for 125 yards and 4 touchdowns, with only 1 interception. After looking in depth at the game its clear this understates how well Vad played this weekend.

  • Of those 8 incompletions 4 were dropped by the receivers. And not great catches that were tough to come down with drops, these were catchable balls in the hands of the receivers that absolutely should be completed. Summers, Smelter, Bostic, and Godhigh all dropped a ball, and only Summers has a case for not being blamed 100%, he made a great play to go up and get the ball and caught it with both hands, but just couldn't come down with it from the long drop.
  • The interception is about 90% Darren Waller's fault. If Darren makes the slightest effort to make a play on the ball it does not get picked, and our "best receiver" should be making this catch.
  • One of Vad's throws was tipped at the line. This should be on Vad, but the receiver was open and the defensive lineman just got lucky with his timing.
  • The box score also counts the forward pitch that was behind the line and ruled a pass, and it hit the A-back in the hands. While this pitch should have been earlier and more on target, it was still a catchable pitch that hit the A-back in stride.
  • The lone incompletion that is on Vad was the bomb to Darren Waller. Waller scores a touchdown with an accurate throw, and this play should at least be a completion. This one is on Vad.
I would only put 1 dropback as a negative for Vad, he also had a scramble for a positive gain and no sacks. So on 17 dropbacks Vad only had 1 negative play. That is pre-tty, pre-tty, pretty good. (This is also a reflection of the offensive line, our pass blocking was much better this week than against Elon).

Run Defense

Guys, its not good. A good measure of defensive line strength is the amount of tackles for loss a defense forces. Out of 32 rushes by Duke we only had two tackles for loss. We did a good job of limiting big plays (only 4 rushes went for 10 yards or more, with a long of 16), but against a QB who couldn't pass the ball we should do better. As you saw in our Advanced Box Score we did a better-than-average job defending Duke rushing plays, but with a backup QB in who can't read a defense, shouldn't we? This has officially become my biggest area of worry in the future. I am just worried that we will face an offense that will be able to run the ball for solid yardage at will, and they will just march up and down the field on our defense. Like I said, we did a good job this week, but it made me even less confident than I was before this week, and ask Chas, I was already pessimistic.

Special Teams

I actually thought they did pretty well this week. We had one long kickoff return but other than that shut them down (18 yards per return on the others). We allowed too much on the punt return. But we also nearly blocked a punt, had a HUGE punt by Sean Poole. Harrison Butker only had two touchbacks but it seemed like he was trying to get the ball as close as he could to the endzone without giving the return team the option of taking a touchback. I personally would like him to just boot the thing out the back of the endzone every time, but if you can accurately place it at the 1 or 2 yardline then you are actually better off forcing the team to return it. And on the missed field goals he barely missed one and the other was blocked (although I am inclined to blame the block on Butker, that kick needs to be unblockable with how close they were). But did you see how far he kicked it on the 49 yards field goal? would have been good from 55.

Quick Hits

  • We continued our vanilla defense this year, lining up almost exclusively in the 4-3. We did blitz much more in this game (9 blitzes on 28 dropbacks) but in general kept things simple.
  • Brandon Connette is not quite the QB who will give us the most trouble this year. 17 of his 28 passes were within 4 yards of the line of scrimmage. Duke kept things very simple for him last week.
  • Our perimeter blocking was great, I always point out when it sucks so I need to point out when we do a great job.
Here is the dropbox link for the charting file itself. Feel free to take a look and see if there is anything you notice about our performance.