The 2019 Georgia Tech Football season was bad. But what made it so bad?
Today, we want to look at some numbers that help tell the story of why and how things went wrong last season, and we want to give you a couple of items to watch to track how things are trending in 2020.
Before we dive into the numbers, let me make sure we are on the same page as far as what exactly we are looking at. Here’s some terminology that many of the other writers and I will refer to throughout the season.
- Success Rate = the percentage of plays on which you were successful. Here, this is defined as gaining 50% of the needed yardage on first down, 70% on second down, and 100% on third or fourth down.
- Explosiveness = how much expected value you gained on plays that were successful. The rating is the average number of projected points added on all successful plays.
- Power Success = the percentage of running plays on 3rd or 4th down from 2 yards or less in which the offense either converted a 1st down or scored a TD
- Stuff Rate = the percentage of running plays stopped for no gain or a loss
- Havoc Rate = the percentage of plays on which the defense recorded a tackle for loss, forced a fumble, intercepted a pass or broke up a pass
That’s what you need to know. Now let’s see what went wrong, and where we want to see improvement in 2020.
2019 Offense Advanced Stats
|Rank (out of 130)
|Rank (out of 130)
|Rushing Success Rate
|Power Success Rate
|Passing Success Rate
As you may remember, the offense struggled to move the ball. But these numbers remind us just how bad it was. The overall success rate left us in the bottom ten nationally, while the explosiveness of the offense was slightly above average. Essentially, the offense was lifeless without explosive plays. Unfortunately, as Bill Connelly has found, success rate is the more stable and predictable of the two. This points to an offensive line that struggled to sustain blocks and a quarterback who was mired in inconsistency. On the positive side, we have some effective skill players on offense. All of them return this year, in addition to touted freshmen skill guys like Jahmyr Gibbs and Nate McCollum.
You may notice that the passing statistics are reminiscent of the spread option effect. Like nearly every year under CPJ, we ranked very low in passing success rate and very high in passing explosiveness. That wasn’t supposed to continue in the new offense. If the offense is closer to what it is supposed to be, you will see those two rankings come much closer together.
What should you pay particular attention to in 2020 to see if things are moving in the right direction?
- The Passing success rate needs to come in around 40%, which would put us in the middle of the pack nationally and demonstrate significant progress in the quarterback room.
- The Power Success Rate should improve to around 70%, which again would put us in the middle of the pack and give evidence to the upgrades we need on the offensive line.
What about on defense? As the offense took massive steps backwards during the retooling of 2019, the defense took some small steps forward.
2019 Defense Advanced Stats
|Rank (out of 130)
|Rank (out of 130)
|Rushing Success Rate Allowed
|Rushing Explosiveness Allowed
|Power Success Allowed
|Passing Success Rate Allowed
|Passing Explosiveness Allowed
The defense displays a similar profile to the last few years of the CPJ era, but there were some modest improvements across the board. Overall, the defense was slightly below average in success rate against and slightly above average in explosiveness allowed. The relative strengths of the defense show up in passing success rate allowed and in overall preventing explosive plays. The massive weakness (including a last in the country ranking) shows up in allowing teams to convert on short yardage with ease and almost never creating stuffs or havoc.
This should come as no surprise. The defensive line was known to be the position in greatest need of development when the new staff arrived, followed by the linebacking corps. The relative strength of the defense was thought to be on the back end, and the secondary lived up to that expectation by defending the pass at slightly above average levels and helping to contain explosive plays.
Where should we look for improvement in 2020 if this unit is going to be able to carry the team to greater success?
- The power success rate allowed by the defense needs to be closer to 70%. This will mean the defense getting off the field far more often and will create more chances for the offense with better field position.
- The havoc rate needs to tick up a couple of percentage points to somewhere around the national average of 21%, to get the opposing offenses off schedule more. This will help cover over some of the weaknesses up front. Look for more creative and aggressive pressure packages from the edge and outside linebacking spots.
We’ll be checking in on these numbers and a few others throughout the year to gauge progress. Remember, this year isn’t all about wins and losses. Let’s look a little bit deeper for signs of improvement. I’m setting these four goals:
Offensive passing success rate >=40%
Offensive power success rate >=70%
Defensive power success rate <= 70%
Defensive havoc rate >=21%
As we track them together, I hope they will help you get a better sense of how the team and coaching staff are responding to the disappointment of last year.