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Advanced Stats Check In: Bye Week #2

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Our second bye week progress report of the year has too many failing grades for my liking

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Georgia Tech v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

We don’t have a game to review from this weekend, so we will do our second season long check in. After seven games, Georgia Tech sits at a disappointing 2-5. Pregame win probabilities pegged us to go 2.4-4.6 in these seven games, and postgame win expectancies predicted 2.2 wins, so GT has slightly underachieved based on underlying power ratings, success rates, yards per play, and EPA/play.

The simple analysis goes something like this: the offense is better than 2019, the defense is worse, and the special teams are still a dumpster fire. As we undertake our second progress report of the season, we will again look for where we are seeing growth and where we are seeing regression. Let’s dig in.

GT Advanced Stats Check In #2

Metric GT 2020 GT 2019 Better?
Metric GT 2020 GT 2019 Better?
Offensive Success Rate 45% 35% 2020
Offensive Yards per Play 5.12 4.8 2020
Offensive EPA/Play -0.09 -0.18 2020
Offensive Yards per Attempt (including sacks and scrambles) 6.58 4.8 2020
Offensive 3rd Down Success Rate 36% 30% 2020
Offensive Stuff Rate Allowed 26% 22% 2019
Defensive Success Rate 46% 43% 2019
Defensive YPP 5.7 5.8 2020
Defensive EPA/Play 0.15 0.08 2019
Defensive YPA 7.8 6.9 2019
Defensive 3rd Down Success Rate Allowed 49% 45% 2019
Defensive Stuff Rate 17% 16% 2020
Defensive Havoc Rate 14% 19% 2019
*2020 numbers come from my play by play charting. 2019 numbers come from @CFB_Data

Offense

Despite struggles with turnovers, penalties, and protection, the offense is definitively better than last year. Our success rate has improved by ten points, from bottom of the country to above average. Our yards per play are slightly up, but on pass plays, the average has increased by almost 2 yards/attempt. We’re improving, and Jeff Sims can make tough throws! This is good!

The only offensive category with a significant decline in 2020 is stuff rate allowed. We’ve gone from having 22% of our run plays stuffed to 26% this year, which is close to the bottom nationally. This offensive line is still a major weakness. As PFF noted this week, GT has two of the top three rushers in the ACC for broken tackle rate. Without elite talent at running back, the rushing offense would be struggling even more. The play calling has also set up some of these issues, as we have run on first down and on second and long more than we should be. These numbers looked much better against Notre Dame, and it’s something I will be watching closely as the season moves towards a close.

Looking specifically at GT’s offensive EPA/play since our first progress report, GT had its best offensive EPA game of the year against Louisville, followed by its three worst performances. This is a worrisome trend line heading into the home stretch, as the catastrophic turnover plays that have affected the offense have not stopped. Of course, the offensive line has responsibility here as well, as they have allowed pressure on 29% of GT’s called pass plays to go with that 26% run stuff rate allowed. Jeff Sims is a developing freshman, but the longer term worry here remains with the offensive line. There is good news in the progress from 2019 at quarterback and at the skill positions; the bad news is the stagnation of the offensive line, which likely will not see significant improvement until 2022.

Defense

Just as the offense has improved almost everywhere across the board, the defense has declined in almost every significant metric. Yards per play is about the same as last year, while defensive success rate has declined by 3 points, defensive EPA/play has declined by 0.07 points per play, yards per pass attempt is a yard worse, and defensive havoc rate is 5 percentage points worse. Areas where GT was below average last year are now way below average.

Looking at run stuffs, pressure rates, and PFF player grades, defensive end has been far and away the strongest position on the defense. Jordan Domineck has turned into a very effective pass rusher; Sylvain Yondjouen had grown tremendously in setting the edge on runs before his season-ending injury, and Jared Ivey has flashed as a pass rusher as his snap count has increased the past few weeks. We expected growing pains to continue in the front 6. We did not expect the secondary to fall apart as it has. The expected strength at the safety position has been nowhere to be found, and I would expect the rotation on the back end to be fluid in the last four games as we look for longer term answers.

To be frank, it’s hugely disappointing to have seen this regression on the side of the ball with more returning experience and where the head coach’s past experience has been. It’s time to look to the future on this side of the ball and get the promising young players as many snaps as possible to close the season.

Verdict

The direction since progress report one, after three games, has been negative and discouraging. Some of the offensive improvement has continued but lessened. The defense has taken two steps back. We need to see positive movement to close the season, especially with the defense, or else it will require CGC to make some hard decisions with his coordinators and staffing structure in the offseason. CDP has been better this year, as he has been able to work primarily with one quarterback, but I want to see the run/pass balance on first down and second and long move in a more ideal direction. Finally, to see regression on defense in year 2 when almost every contributor returned is not acceptable. I hope the head coach knows that too.