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Georgia Tech Football: Advanced Stats Update - Post Duke

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Improvement? Kinda?

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Duke James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Improvement week over week was always the goal. In Year 0 of Geoff Collins, few expected early success, but hoped for gains as the season moved along. Big improvements have largely eluded this team so far, but an increase in the level of competition has also made improving more difficult, at least statistically. In order to find bright spots in the this year’s pile of statistics, some digging is required, but they’re there.

Offense

Offense Season Stats

Stat Value Previous Rank Previous
Stat Value Previous Rank Previous
Success Rate 37% 39% 107 90
YPP 4.89 4.71 113 116
Rush SR 43% 46% 60 51
Stuff Rate 24% 25% 111 107
Opporunity Rate 50% 48% 47 58
Pass SR 30% 27% 126 118
Explosive Pass Rate 13% 11% 85 119
3rd Down YTG 7.92 8.5 112 115

The deltas from the last update to now on offense provide an interesting look not only into Georgia Tech football, but also college football as a whole. Tech has actually improved in a few statistical categories such as passing success rate (even if it doesn’t feel like it), while having its FBS rank in that category fall. Offenses tend to coalesce as the season advances, and it results on more offense on the field. The Tech offense has yet to get itself together, but with this offensive line they may never. With the selection of a quarterback in James Graham, the offense may have a chance to improve as it moves through ACC play, but it won’t get easier. Under Graham, the offense has become more explosive, but less efficient. More pass plays down the field have been called, and Graham has a propensity to go for the deep ball. It has led to some exciting moments and an increase in YPP, but a much less efficient offense. The team finally got its average distance to go on 3rd down below 8 yards! Progress!

Defense

Defense Season Stats

Stat Value Previous Rank Previous
Stat Value Previous Rank Previous
Success Rate 41% 40% 67 64
YPP 5.58 5.95 68 99
Havoc Rate 15% 17% 112 82
Rushing SR 43% 43% 83 79
Stuff Rate 15% 12% 109 103
Passing SR 38% 33% 39 30

Defensive regression is the biggest disappointment over the past 2 games, particularly pass defense. Before you go and talk about The Citadel making the pass defense numbers look good, Tech did just as well defending the pass against USF and Temple. Even Clemson only managed 37% passing success rate. The last few games have particularly inflated the numbers. A lack of a pass rush against more talented offensive lines has been the main issue, as the rush simply isn’t getting close any more. With all day in the pocket, teams have ripped the secondary to shreds. Additionally, Tech’s Yards per play metric continues to fall, though the UNC game was a blip in the wrong direction.

The big improvement is in the run stuff rate, though the overall rushing success rate against this defense has remained the same. Tech has started to cause more havoc in the run game, but there have also been more explosive runs.

Box Scores

Game Summary

Opponent Success Rate Success Rate Against YPP YPP Against Rush SR Pass SR Rush SR Against Pass SR Against
Opponent Success Rate Success Rate Against YPP YPP Against Rush SR Pass SR Rush SR Against Pass SR Against
Clemson 38% 48% 4.59 8 46% 22% 55% 37%
USF 37% 29% 3.62 4.75 40% 29% 27% 31%
Citadel 46% 39% 6.54 4.67 53% 31% 40% 20%
Temple 31% 39% 4.36 4.54 31% 32% 46% 26%
UNC 40% 46% 6.06 6.02 41% 38% 40% 52%
Duke 36% 40% 5.05 4.97 47% 27% 43% 32%

The box scores show the trends better than any season averages, and show both the reasons for optimism and pessimism as the offense and defense head in opposite directions.

The Bright Spots

Yards Per play has been up the last few games, thanks to the coaching staff settling in on a QB who can actually push the ball downfield. Success rate has been a roller coaster in the passing game, but overall the offense has been more effective than it was the first few games. Rushing success rate has been steady, and it’s really just the passing success rate that needs continued improvement. Pass protection will be a big part of that, and I’m not sure that will end up improving enough this year to make a huge difference.

The Negatives

The regression in the pass defense the last couple of games has been a frustrating sticking point for this team. The pass defense failures were different against UNC and Duke as well. Against the Tar Heels, Tech allowed a disgustingly high passing success rate. Against Duke, it was the explosive plays, with the Blue Devils racking up 7.72 yards per pass play. There has been a lot of talk about bad run defense, but it was respectable against Duke after two poor showings against Temple and UNC. The issues here largely trace back to a young defensive front which will need to step up if Tech is to overcome these challenges.