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Georgia Tech Football: Statistics Update - Post Week 3

Marginally Improved Defense, Offensive Offense

NCAA Football: The Citadel at Georgia Tech Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

SBNation has partnered with SportSource Analytics this year to provide advanced stats to the blogs. The stats in this article were furnished as part of that arrangement. We’ll continue to provide updates on these stats on a periodic basis.

Now that the anger has settled a bit, it’s time to start rationalizing what has happened so far this season and why. Believe it or not, there are some small reasons for optimism in the Tech’s statistical profile. It’s a profile that tells a story of a team that can’t get out of its own way, and that is in desperate need of stability along the offensive line. It also tells a story of a team and coach that needs to get its head out of its [AC/DC].

The Good

Defensive Breakdown

Stat Value Rank
Stat Value Rank
Success Rate 40% 64
YPP 5.95 99
Havoc Rate 17% 82
Rushing SR 43% 79
Stuff Rate 12% 103
Passing SR 33% 30

Defensive improvement was expected under Collins despite the large number of off-season departures, especially along the Front 7. So far it’s been a bag mixed in expected ways. This defense very much is the opposite of what was seen during the Roof and Woody regimes. Aggressive coverage and front 7 play has resulted in a team that allows respectable efficiency but falls victim to explosive plays. The high Yards per Play is somewhat skewed by the Clemson game, where the team gave up a whopping 8(!!!) yards per play.

So what’s good? While the Minister of Mayhem hasn’t roared in quite as expected, a 17% havoc rate is a vast improvement over the Roof and Woody years, when Tech hovered around the bottom of FBS with a 11-12% havoc rate. What needs to improve is the stuff rate. Much of the havoc is coming against the pass, with the DBs racking up the PBUs and the front 7 actually getting some sacks. Run defense is the weakness of this team thus far.

The pass defense has been stellar, ranked 30th in success rate allowed. DB coaching seemed lackluster under the previous two defensive coordinators, but it’s easily the most impressive squad on the entire roster now. The talent was always there, they just needed a scheme that accentuated their strengths.

The overall performance of the defense thus far has been pretty middling, but that’s already an improvement over the defenses of the past. It looks really good, however, when compared to:

The Bad

Offensive Breakdown

Stat Value Rank
Stat Value Rank
Success Rate 39% 90
YPP 4.71 116
Rush SR 46% 51
Stuff Rate 25% 107
Opporunity Rate 48% 58
Pass SR 27% 118
Explosive Pass Rate 11% 119
3rd Down YTG 8.5 115

Gross. There are a couple of interesting causes for optimism here, but those passing statistics are... not good. The passing game has not been effective at all outside of a few plays, and the stats reflect that. The lack of explosive passes is stark, and stems both from the QBs not having the deep ball down and from poor pass protection on the part of the offensive line. Tech was able to finally hit a few downfield passes this past week and has a bye week to work on it, but the OL issue just won’t go away.

The rushing stats are an interesting, frustrating mixed bag. The 25% Stuff Rate is atrocious, and I was shocked it wasn’t last place. Somehow Akron’s offense has a 36% stuff rate, which is higher than their success rate. That’s next level ineptitude!

The bright spot here is the Opportunity Rate, which is a stark contrast to the awful Stuff Rate. To recap, the Stuff Rate is the percentage of run plays that go for 0 or fewer yards. The Opportunity Rate is the percentage of run plays that go for 5 or more yards. The Opportunity Rate is meant to distill the percentage of plays where the OL did its job and gave the RB an “opportunity” to create a highlight run. A large chunk of runs resulting in opportunities clashes with such a huge stuff rate. Is the OL really that boom or bust? Some of it is on questionable play calling, but the eyeball test offers another explanation. I’m going to preliminarily dub this odd statistical split “The Jordan Mason Paradox.” The blocking has been consistently bad, but Jordan Mason either breaks a tackle behind the line of scrimmage or he doesn’t. Mason has done a great job of getting significant yardage when given some momentum, but he can’t get up to speed enough do to the OL disaster in front of him.

All this leads to perhaps the worst stat here: 8.5 average yards to go on 3rd down. The negative plays and run stuffs all lead to this. A rushing opportunity on 1st down can easily be erased by terrible negative play on 2nd down, and it turns out this offense isn’t built for 3rd down and long either.

The Ugly

The game breakdown. The reasons for the horrendous, embarrassing loss to the Citadel. Well, here it is:

Game Breakdown

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%

The Clemson game really exaggerates Tech’s issues with preventing explosive plays, as both the games following had Tech giving up around 4.7 yards per play. That’s far more manageable than the season statistics. USF was the best day for the defense, unsurprisingly, but was also the worst day for the offense.

It may not feel like it, but the Citadel game was the offense’s best performance, and it wasn’t particularly close. So that begs the question, why? I was frustrated with how Tech decided to defend the Flexbone, but ultimately those success rates against weren’t awful. The Citadel put up strikingly similar offensive rates to what Tech put up on Clemson, only scoring 14. Tech beat the Citadel in every major rate category on both sides of the ball. So what was it? Self-Inflicted dumb [Styx]. Taunting penalties and ill timed personal fouls extended drives for the Citadel. Dumb clock management. Negative plays messing up sequencing and bad play calling that didn’t help. A 53% success rate running the ball looks wonderful, but failing to convert manageable 3rd downs or having one disaster of play on 1st or 2nd down killed this team’s chances. That’s a bit more fixable than simply getting beaten down, but it doesn’t feel much better.

Well that’s it for now. Hopefully there will be better things to talk about in 3 weeks.