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Georgia Tech Opponent Preview: Virginia Tech

Ed Wolfstein-USA TODAY Sports

Each week at FTRS we will be providing charts, graphs, and analysis into the characteristics of how our opponent plays, not just the quality of their performances. You can view all past Opponent Previews in the Football Analytics Story Stream.

This week the Yellow Jackets travel to Blacksburg, VA to face the Hokies. Normally this game decides the Coastal division but with last year's ascension by Duke and both team's less-than-ideal performances this season it may not carry the conference-wide weight it has in the past.

Relative Team Strength

I'm trying something new this week. Below is a graph showing where Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech rank nationally according to the S&P+ ratings. S&P+ is a method built by Bill Connelly that measures a team's explosiveness and consistency on a per-play basis. It then adjusts for garbage time possessions and quality of opponent. This early in the season the ratings also include the pre-season rating of the team in question, since the current season hasn't given us a large sample size to work with. The Histogram below shows what bin each team falls in to. The height of the bin correspond to how many teams have an S&P+ rating in that range.


Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are both better than average teams, but S&P+ views these teams as essentially dead even. I don't think this tells the whole story though, so here is the normal table of rankings for both teams:

NCAA Ranks by Method
S&P+ 39th 40th
FEI 42nd 16th
ESPN FPI 58th 34th
Vegas -8

Virginia Tech is rated much higher than Georgia Tech in every method except S&P+. The money line gives VT about a 76% chance of winning the game.

When Virginia Tech Has The Ball

Here is a similar chart to the one before except now instead of showing the overall S&P+ rating of each team we will focus on the rating of each unit. This chart shows were GT's Defense and Virginia Tech's Offense rank compared to the rest of the country.


Georgia Tech's defense is rated slightly worse than Virginia Tech's Offense, but both are below average and the difference is small enough to call it a wash. Virginia Tech's offense should take a step forward this year, even if progress has been slow so far.

Run Pass Percentages


  • Virginia Tech has passed the ball more than average this year, which is a definite change from last year. What is surprising is how often they have passed the ball on short yardage situations, I'm not sure why they would run the ball less than a third of the time on 3rd and short.
  • Georgia Tech's Opponents have pulled a "Georgia Tech" on us and have run the ball a ton. Do they see something on our defense that would lead them to think they could run the ball successfully? The answer is yes, it's called "terrible defensive line play".
Yards Per Play


  • Virginia Tech's Offense has been worse than average expect on mid range 2nd downs and long 3rd downs. What should be especially troubling is the lack of yards gained on short yardage situations. This is probably the one area where losing Logan Thomas really hurts.
  • Georgia Tech's defense has actually been pretty good, ok maybe just decent, on short-to-go and midrange downs, but we have been really bad on 1st and 10's and 3rd and longs.
Success Rate


  • The struggles on offense continue for Virginia Tech. They have struggled converting short yardage situations so far this year, and haven't done much better anywhere else.
  • But don't worry, Georgia Tech will just let you move the ball no matter the down and distance. We have got to really tighten up on the short yardage. This matchup has too many polar opposites.

When Georgia Tech Has The Ball


Once again this matchup will come down to which strength of the team can have success against the other. Virginia Tech's defense has not been as good as last year's was, but there is still time to improve on the year. This will be a tough matchup regardless though.

Run Pass Percentages


  • Did you guys know Georgia Tech runs the ball a lot? #analytics
  • This matchup is truly one of polar opposites. I believe that ECU passes the ball pretty frequently, but I can't believe Ohio State didn't try to run the ball on third and short or midrange even once.
Yards Per Play


  • Virginia Tech's defense has actually struggled in some places this year. They do a decent job on 1st and 10, and other than 3rd and short have done a good job stopping short yardage plays.
  • Georgia Tech's offense has been better than average pretty much everywhere this year.
Success Rate


  • And this is the big matchup. Georgia Tech's offense has done a great job of moving the chains this year. Virginia Tech's defense has done a great job of limiting opposing offenses from doing much of anything this year. These charts have really given me hope that if Georgia Tech can avoid negative plays I think they can have some success on the short yardage plays and keep the chains moving.
At the end of the day you could write the same preview for this game year after year; How much will Virginia Tech's great defense shut down the option and can our defense take advantage of their offense's mistakes to make some scores of their own and set up great field position. Avoid turnovers, don't miss field goals, and please score when we get chances. If we can do that I think Georgia Tech can overcome the talent gap between the two teams.