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Advanced Stats Review: GT vs. ND

In a game far worse than the final score showed, Georgia Tech was barely competitive

Photos by Danny Karnik, GTAA

Final Score: Notre Dame 31-13

Projected EPA Margin of Victory: ND by 24.85 (doesn’t include garbage time plays between when ND went up by 24 in the 4th until GT scored for the final time)

GT Win Probability (Based on Success Rate, Yards Per Play, and EPA): 3%

For the third week in a row, Georgia Tech suffered a convincing defeat, as once again most of the fourth quarter was played in garbage time. Georgia Tech did manage to keep Notre Dame from explosive passing plays that have given trouble in previous weeks, but otherwise this game went almost exactly as we expected. Notre Dame was better than Georgia Tech, especially across the lines of scrimmage. Despite a Georgia Tech record 93 yard scoop and score by Zamari Walton to stop what would have been a second Notre Dame scoring drive in the first quarter, this game was never in doubt. GT’s defense did a good job of limiting explosive plays, but they could not force ND into any kind of difficult situations. The GT offense was just abysmal trying to throw the ball, and GT could not sustain drives.

Success Rate Comparisons and Individual Player Advanced Stats

GT ND Success Rates

Success Rate O GT Offense D ND Offense National Avg
Success Rate O GT Offense D ND Offense National Avg
Down 1 38.10% 1 45.20%
2 50.00% 2 50.00%
3 40.00% 3 71.40%
4 0.00% 4
Qtr 1 33.30% 1 59.10%
2 44.40% 2 47.40%
3 44.40% 3 50.00%
4 20.00% 4 50.00%
Pass P 28.60% P 56.70% 41%
Rush R 57.90% R 50.00% 42%
Overall 40.40% 52.20% 42%
Success rate is the baseline metric for efficiency. As a reminder, a successful play gains 50% of the needed yards on 1st down, 70% on second down, and 100% on third or fourth down.

The defense gave up very high success rates on both passing and rushing plays. The vaunted Notre Dame offense line got push when they needed to, and GT could do very little to stop Ian Book in the short and intermediate passing game. Notre Dame’s fleet of tight ends and bigger receivers had no trouble finding space and picking up short, successful chunks of yardage through the air. Notre Dame’s offense was consistently able to move the ball throughout the game, picking up 7 scoring opportunities. This was the kind of methodical movement through the GT defense that we were afraid Notre Dame could achieve.

GT’s passing success rate, which was was looking like a real area of growth through the first four games of the year, has plummeted. This was the third straight game that Georgia Tech succeeded on 30% or less of its called passing plays. Once again, GT was twice as effective on called running plays in terms of success rate. One of the things I was looking for coming into the game was for GT to be more aggressive throwing the ball on first downs and in second and long. We were, and it just didn’t work. Jahmyr Gibbs was once again the most effective offensive player.

GT ND RB Success

Running Backs Carries Rushing Success Rate Highlight Yards
Running Backs Carries Rushing Success Rate Highlight Yards
10 2 0.33 9.5
21 12 0.62 25
27 5 0.25 9.5

Gibbs was successful on 62% of his non garbage-time runs, which is a Najee Harris like number in the Alabama running game. Keep in mind that this excludes both sacks and scrambles, and we see that Sims and Griffin were less effective this week. Let’s make sure we appreciate just how dynamic Jahmyr Gibbs has been in his true freshman season.

GT ND WR Advanced Stats

Receivers Receiving Success Rate Avg Target Air Yards Targets % of Team Air Yards YACatch RACR WOPR
Receivers Receiving Success Rate Avg Target Air Yards Targets % of Team Air Yards YACatch RACR WOPR
1 0.67 15 3 20.64% 15 1.33 0.76
12 0.67 4.33 3 5.96% 4 1.08 0.19
15 0 18.25 4 33.49% 0 0 0.23
21 0.4 0.6 5 1.38% 47 38.67 0.52
27 0 -2 1 -0.92% 0 -12 -0.03
88 0.5 10.5 2 9.63% 2 0.24 0.12
80 0 14 3 19.27% -27 3 0.17
*RACR compares a receiver’s total receiving yardage to the air yards on targets to them, and anything above 1 is good. WOPR tells us how heavily the receiver is being leaned on in the passing game by combining the proportion of targets with the proportion of air yards.

Jalen Camp was excellent on his three targets. Malachi Carter, who had been the most consistent receiver this season, had his worst outing so far, although Sims did miss him on a deep throw where he was quite open. Noticeably absent on this list is Ahmarean Brown, who was not targeted (except for one play that was wiped out by penalty).

GT ND DB Advanced Stats

Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed
Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed
1 1 33.00%
3 3 11.67%
21 2 57.10%
22 2 -8.83%
39 2 -69.67%
8 2 42.50%
44 2 -16.00%
18 1 17.00%
42 2 23.83%
*CPOE is completion percentage over expected, based on the depth of the target. Negative is better for defensive players.

No one was repeatedly targeted in this game, but there are a few things that stand out. 21 and 8 both gave up some big completions on poor coverage. Myles Sims made an appearance late in the game, but his early season play earned him more coverage snaps than he is getting right now in our opinion. Walker and Oliver both defended passes quite well from the slot.

Let’s turn now to the full advanced box score to see where GT came up short.

Advanced Stats Comparison

GT ND Advanced Box Score

Adv Box Score GT Notre Dame National Avg
Adv Box Score GT Notre Dame National Avg
Snap Count 47 68 71.5
# Pass Plays Called 28 30 31
Avg Starting FP 75.67 65.88 70.5
YPP 2.72 5.65 5.7
YPA (incl. sacks, scrambles) 2.43 8.03 7.39
% of Passes on 1st Down 76% 39% 40.17%
% of runs on 2nd and long 25% 53% 39.80%
Avg EPA/play -0.35 0.13 -0.01
Avg EPA/pass -0.6 0.41 0
Total EPA -16.1 8.75 -0.96
Avg Air Yards / Completion 6.92 6.06 6.14
Air Yards / Attempt 7.85 7.05 8.89
CP 65.00% 72.73% 62.54%
CPOE 1.54% 9.12% 0.00%
Total Line Yards 71 143 2.55
Opportunity Rate 52.63% 52.94% 42.42%
Power Success Rate 60.00% 75.00% 68.60%
Stuff Rate (Offense) 26.32% 15.00% 19.17%
Havoc Rate 11% 30% 21.00%
Pressure Rate 23% 29% 30.70%

As mentioned above, this box score only includes non garbage time plays. So, where was the game lost for Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon?

  • Quarterback Play: On both sides of the ball, Notre Dame absolutely dominated on called passing plays. Notre Dame held a 5.5 yard advantage per called pass play, a 28% success rate advantage on pass plays, and over 1 EPA better than GT per called pass play. That means every time a passing play was called in this game, it was worth a point on the scoreboard for Notre Dame. Hopefully, it’s obvious just how bad that is.
  • In the trenches: This was probably the worst game of the year for the Georgia Tech offensive line. 26% of our running plays were stuffed, we gave up pressure on 29% of passes, and Notre Dame created havoc (sack, TFL, INT, PBU, or FF) on 30% of GT’s offensive plays. That is across the board dominance. On the other side of the ball, Georgia Tech’s defensive line was respectable in the pass rush, getting pressure on 23% of drop backs, but GT could achieve only an 11% havoc rate and a 15% stuff rate. Notre Dame’s offensive line is tremendous, so this was an expected advantage. But the two lines of scrimmage went a long way in deciding this one.

EPA Highlights

EPA calculates the expected number of points added (or lost in the case of a negative number) on a particular play based on the down and the location on they field. Akshay Easwaran did a great job priming us for EPA this summer. Check out his column here for background.

The EPA totals for this game leave us with a 24 point projected deficit for GT during the non garbage time portions of the game. To give a more predictive picture of the difference between these two teams, that margin would be 35 points if we take out the one scoop and score play by GT. That probably gives a more accurate picture of the dominance in this game. We’ll take a look at the most helpful and hurtful plays for GT, but that will skew hard in the most hurtful direction again this week.

Most Helpful Plays

  1. Zamari Walton’s 93 yard fumble return for a touchdown after Juanyeh Thomas forced the fumble. 10.88 EPA.
  2. Jeff Sims’s 39 yard pass to Jalen Camp on 2nd and 10 from the GT 39 to the ND 22. 2.47 EPA.

This week, we only get a top two. That’s how ineffective the GT offense was in non garbage time.

Most Hurtful Plays

  1. Unfortunately, GT’s second best EPA play was followed directly by its worst, a strip sack of Jeff Sims that gave Notre Dame the ball at their own 35. -5.75 EPA.
  2. Ian Book’s 34 yard pass completion on 3rd and 8 from their own 28 late in the third quarter. -3.67 EPA.
  3. Jahmyr Gibbs’s rush for a loss of six yards on 4th and 2 from the ND 45 in the middle of the second quarter. This was a good decision to go for it, but the play call was bizarre. -3.55 EPA.
  4. Georgia Tech’s missed 43 yard field goal late in the third quarter. No, it doesn’t count extra because it missed by 20 yards. -3.47 EPA.
  5. Ian Book’s 13 yard completion followed by a 15 yard face mask to get to the GT 42 early in the second quarter. -3.23 EPA.

GT had one very costly turnover, two bad fourth down plays, and a few glitches for big gains on third down that played a big role in this game’s outcome. Otherwise, Notre had a consistent, methodical attack.

Tracking Season Goals

*I set these goals for the 2020 season in some of my offseason preview work. We will be tracking them as we go this year.

GT ND Season Long Goals

Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
Offensive Passing Success Rate >40% 29% 41%
Offensive Power Success Rate >70% 60 71%
Defensive Power Success Rate <70% 88% 83%
Defensive Stuff Rate >20% 15 17%
Defensive Havoc Rate >21% 11% 14%

As you can see above, Georgia Tech missed all five of our preseason goals during the Notre Dame game. Three of the five areas are also well off the season-long goal, and the other two (passing success and offensive power success) are barely above and trending in the wrong direction. This speaks to the larger issues of not seeing progress from game 1 to game 7 and not seeing near as much year over year progress as we expected to see. I wish that the coaching staff could be more honest about this instead of insisting that we are getting better every week. It’s simply not true.


  1. This game didn’t make me think any differently about this team than I did going into it. Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing at this point. This is a below average football team that is regressing as the season continues.
  2. The offensive line and the front six on defense continue to put the skill players in unwinnable situations. Jahmyr Gibbs is special, but no one else on the GT offense can escape the binds the OL leaves them in, and no one on the backend of the defense has been good enough to get opposing offenses off the field.
  3. Seriously, don’t try another field goal this year. And go for it on 4th and 1 from your own 34 when you’re down by 10 and your defense is struggling. This coaching staff needs to make more +EV decisions in these situations.

The swoon continues. Obviously, this was a very difficult stretch of the schedule that included two of the top four ranked teams in the country. But GT did not acquit itself well. We once again enter a bye week with plenty of work to do, and the excellent PITT defense awaits us on November 14th. As we enter the home stretch, a 2-2 finish would be encouraging. However, I’m more interested in the underlying Indicators, especially an uptick in our passing success rate and a decrease in opponent success rate, as we face some of the weaker offenses on our schedule. We are not close to where we want to be, and I hope the staff realizes how far we need to go.