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Advanced Stats Preview: GT vs. Syracuse

In Georgia Tech’s first 2020 game as a favorite, can they cement the progress shown so far?

Nick Romero #61

This Saturday, Georgia Tech will take on Syracuse in the revamped Carrier Dome in the first game of the 2020 season that GT will enter as the favorite. After two games apiece, both teams have played pretty closely in line with their advanced stats preseason projections. The consensus Las Vegas point spread, as well as Bill Connelly’s SP+ ratings, have GT as an 8 point favorite this Saturday, which translates to a 68% win probability.

Because we are only two games into the new season, we will continue to show some of the key metrics from 2019. Past performance still has predictive power at this point, and it’s also helpful to see where GT has seen improvement (offensive efficiency!), as well as where they have not.

GT Syracuse Advanced Stats Preview

Metric GT 2020 GT 2019 Syracuse 2020
Metric GT 2020 GT 2019 Syracuse 2020
Offensive Success Rate 50% 35% 21%
Offensive YPP 5.41 4.8 2.6
Offensive EPA/Play -0.04 0.06 -0.27
Offensive YPA (including sacks and scrambles) 7.24 4.8 4.1
Offensive 3rd Down Success 48.40% 30% 18%
Offensive Stuff Rate Allowed 24% 22% 31%
Defensive Success Rate 46% 43% 41%
Defensive YPP 5.2 5.8 5.2
Defensive EPA/Play 0.07 0.19 0.17
Defensive YPA 6.64 6.9 7.3
Defensive 3rd Down Success 48% 45% 39%
Defensive Stuff Rate 15% 16% 24%
Defensive Havoc Rate 18% 19% 19%

*GT numbers come from my play by play charting. Opponent numbers come from @CFB_Data

When Syracuse has the ball, this is a great matchup for Georgia Tech. Coach Babers has said that both Tommy Devito and Rex Culpepper will play at quarterback, which points to the overall struggle of the Syracuse offense so far. The 21% offensive success rate and 2.6 yards per play are simply abysmal. You can see above how those numbers compare to the dumpster fire that was the 2019 GT offense.

In areas where GT has seen weaknesses carry over from 2019, such as defensive stuff rate and havoc rate, Syracuse is particularly weak. Syracuse has allowed a 31% offensive stuff rate (running plays that go for no yardage) and a 26% havoc rate. Against this offense, GT should find ways to make gains in both of those areas, similar to the FSU game. Without the explosive play potential that we saw last week from the UCF offense, the Syracuse offense will struggle to take advantage of the aggressiveness of the GT secondary.

On the other side of the ball, GT has taken a huge leap forward in offensive success rate and yards per pass attempt. Syracuse is almost exactly average in both of these numbers, so I don’t expect GT to particularly struggle in offensive efficiency this week. Of course, Andre Cisco is a player to watch on the back end for Syracuse. He led the ACC in interceptions last season despite missing three games and has one so far in 2020. The massive difference between GT’s offensive efficiency and the overall offensive output has come from the rash of blocked kicks and more importantly, the 7 turnovers committed through two games. If Jeff Sims and company can hold onto the ball, GT should be able to consistently move the ball against this defense, particularly in the passing game.

The numbers say GT by 8; if GT holds onto the football this game, it has the chance to be closer to the 14-21 range based on the per play effectiveness of these two teams so far in 2020. This is a great opportunity for GT to bounce back from the first loss of the year. To take the steps forward we hope to this year, this is a must win. 28-14 GT.