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Georgia Tech Football: Advanced Stats Analysis - Week 3

It’s time to make sense of all this mess

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

After Georgia Tech’s Week 2 win against Jacksonville State, Bill Connelly’s advanced stats profile was the posted to the Tidbits. Some readers were skeptical of the statistics, and others complained about a lack of statistical interpretation in Bill’s post. I’m here to fill in the gaps. These profiles are a wonderful way of gauging how Georgia Tech is performing both offensively and defensively, and I wanted to share some of the takeaways from key metrics that I’ve been tracking.

Link to BillC’s Georgia Tech profile

Offense

Success Rate

The best measure of efficiency is success rate, the percentage of plays that are considered ‘successful.’ What constitutes a successful play?

  • 1st down: 50% of the yards to gain a first down or more
  • 2nd down: 70% of the yards to gain a first down or more
  • 3rd and 4th down: Convert a first down

Teams who lead this category always have juggernaut offenses. In 2014, Georgia Tech led the nation in unadjusted success rate, and that season turned out fairly well. Keep in mind that all the stats discussed here will not be adjusted for opponent or other factors. With such a small sample, it’s best to look at the raw stats.

As expected, Georgia Tech’s offensive success rate is exceptional after 2 years of surprisingly inefficient offense.

  • Rushing Success Rate: 54.4%: FBS Rank - 8th
  • Passing Success Rate: 45.8%: Rank - 39th
  • Overall Success Rate: 53.4%: Rank - 5th

Tech is humming along at a similar success rate to that mighty 2014 squad, and that should have fans excited. Tech is blowing the doors off the 40.1% FBS success rate average. If the team can keep this up as the opponents get tougher, this could be a special year.

IsoPPP

Explosiveness, the other side of the offensive coin. IsoPPP attempts to measure this by measuring the explosiveness of a team’s success. IsoPPP is calculated by taking the team’s Offensive Points Scored and dividing that number by the number of Successful Plays. Last year, the Tech offense was uncharacteristically inefficient, but historically explosive. Tech ranked 3rd in raw IsoPPP in 2016, thanks to the spark plug that is Clinton Lynch. This year is a different story.

  • Rushing IsoPPP: 0.87: Rank - 79th
  • Passing IsoPPP: 2.25: Rank - 4th
  • Overall IsoPP: 1.01: Rank - 113th

The passing numbers are a bit skewed by the passing performance against Jacksonville state that saw seemingly every pass get caught for a touchdown. It has been mentioned that TaQuon Marshall would be top 5 in the nation in passing efficiency if he had enough attempts, and this shows why. Pass plays have been BIG, though in small sample sizes. The run game has been more methodical, focusing on efficiency rather than big plays. Typically, teams with more efficient offense perform better than those that rely on big plays, so Tech’s shift from its 2016 offense to its 2017 edition is a welcome one so far.

Points per Trip Inside the 40

There are many ways to gauge a team’s ability finish drives, with red zone efficiency being chief among them. Points per Trip inside the 40 provides a better representation of how an offense performs once it gets into opponent territory. Tech’s numbers so far are great despite field-goal kicking woes.

  • PPTI40: 5.48: Rank - 14th

Explosive offenses typically always have high marks in this category, so it’s a more important statistic for those teams with good efficiency metrics. A team can rack up a large number of successful plays all the way down the field, but if it settles for a field goal or stalls out inside the 40, none of that matters. The high-efficiency Tech offense has so far finished drives just fine, but this one will be one to watch going forward.

Standard Down Line Yards per carry

This metric is a bit more complicated, but it sets out to answer the question: “How many yards is the offensive line earning per rush? For Georgia Tech, its best to study these numbers on standard downs instead of passing downs. Passing downs are defined as:

  • 2nd and 8+
  • 3rd/4th and 5+

A standard down is any down that isn’t a passing down.

There has been a lot of talk about the exceptional play of the G-C-G box early this season, and the numbers back it up.

  • SD Line Yards per Carry: 3.71: Rank - 8th

This offensive line, led by Parker Braun and Kenny Cooper, has been a major strength of the team. Teams that post these types of numbers consistently on offense are juggernauts. This is a stat to get excited about, as it’s a hallmark of a team that’s returning to ruthlessly efficient roots.

Defense

Here’s where I really start to pay attention. The offense is usually at least decent. Defensive improvement over the course of the year will define the success or failure of this team.

Success Rate

The definition of Success Rate and IsoPPP are the same for defense, but this time the goal is to get them as low as possible. Last year, Ted Roof’s squad did not do that. Defensive success rate allowed was worst in the ACC, and it showed. With a high performing offense, Roof doesn’t need to light the world on fire. He just needs to be average.

  • Rushing Success Rate: 45.9%: Rank - 97th
  • Passing Success Rate: 36.5%: Rank - 41st
  • Overall Success Rate: 40.7%: Rank - 68th

Overall, thats... fairly average. There are 130 teams in the FBS, and Tech is dead in the middle. The FBS average success rate is 40.1%. These numbers have been helped tremendously by the Pitt game, but the trend is up. If the team can repeat these numbers next week, there will be cause to be encouraged.

IsoPPP

  • Rushing IsoPPP: 0.9: Rank - 68th
  • Passing IsoPPP: 1.18: Rank - 19th
  • Overall IsoPPP: 1.04: Rank - 31st

In true Ted Roof fashion, the Jackets have limited big passing plays for the most part, and has kept the points per play down. The Roof defense has always at least been decent at this. The real task will be keeping the success rate down.

Stuff Rate

Stuff rate is defined as the percentage of rushing plays that are stopped for no gain or a loss. Paul Johnson has stressed negative plays and making sure the defense stays aggressive. This will be a big indicator of success.

  • Stuff Rate: 13.9%: Rank - 125th

It may sound crazy, but I’m going to tell you to feel encouraged by this number. Why? Well.... after Week 2 Tech was DEAD LAST in this category. After Pitt, this stat is on the upswing. It needs to continue to improve.

Havoc Rate

I’ve harped on Havoc Rate as one of my big criticisms of Ted Roof. It hasn’t been good in years, and Paul Johnson has voiced his displeasure with that this year. What is Havoc Rate? It’s the percentage of defensive snaps that results in:

  • Tackle for Loss (Including Sacks)
  • Pass defensed (Broken up or Intercepted)
  • Fumble Forced

Tech simply hasn’t done well, especially over the past 2 years, in this category. Roof’s passive approach doesn’t lend itself to Sacks, TFL, or PDs, and it’s simply hard to field a good defense without Havoc.

  • Overall Havoc Rate: 17.5%: Rank - 54th (National Average is 16.7%)

[INSERT SIREN EMOJI] TECH IS ABOVE AVERAGE IN HAVOC RATE THIS IS NOT A DRILL I REPEAT THIS IS NOT A DRILL TAKE A LONG LOOK BECAUSE YOU MAY NOT SEE THIS AGAIN IN YOUR LIFETIME

PD to INC

Passes Defensed to Incompletion Ratio. This is a stat that’s going to be particularly interesting for the traditionally passive Jackets defense. Week 1, Tennessee struggled to move the ball out of the gate, but was it Tech’s defense, or dropped passes? Unfortunately, that question was answered later, resulting in a no-good, very bad loss.

This stat is meant to answer a simple question: “Is your secondary lucky or good?” It’s easy to have a good pass defense if the opposing QB is off target or the receivers are dropping passes. For the baseball statisticians out there, this ratio serves as the BABIP of pass defense, a major flag for regression.

At 33.3%, Tech is right around average, and that should be fine given Tech's average results.

This column will be replacing the Reading Report Card because....well....it was giving me the same results every week. If there are any stats you’d like me to delve into more, please leave a comment!