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Georgia Tech Football: Advanced Stats Preview - GT vs. Duke

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GT should be able to run wild, but can the defense hold up its end of the deal?

Georgia Tech v Duke Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

We saw proof of concept, but now we’re looking for proof of consistency. GT can begin to demonstrate that on Saturday in Durham. Jeff Sims is throwing the ball well. Duke does not have some of the strength in the trenches that they enjoyed in previous years. It’s time to take care of business.

Let’s dig in to understand the matchup more deeply and look for some points of relative advantage and disadvantage for GT.

When GT Has the Ball

GT Offense vs. Duke

Metric GT Offense 2021 Duke Defense 2021 Advantage National Average
Metric GT Offense 2021 Duke Defense 2021 Advantage National Average
Success Rate 44% 41% GT 42%
YPP 5.2 6.4 GT 5.7
EPA/Play 0.09 0.08 GT -0.01
EPA/pass 0.03 0.09 GT 0
EPA/run 0.15 0.08 GT -0.01
YPA (including sacks and scrambles) 6.3 9.2 GT 7.4
3rd Down Success 31% 44% Duke 42%
Red Zone Success 39% 42% Duke 45%
Run Stuff Rate 18% 17% GT 19%
Havoc Rate 11% 18% GT 21%
*GT numbers come from my play by play charting. Opponent numbers come from @CFB_Data and teamrankings.com

Georgia Tech ran wild on Duke last year, and things look only more appetizing for the GT offense this year. Duke’s defense is below average in every single statistical indicator except for its red zone defensive success rate. GT has the advantage in every play by play category; Duke only has an advantage in the situational indicators of third down and red zone success. According to SP+, Duke’s defense ranks 86th in the country; GT’s last three opponents ranked 29th, 50th, and 2nd in that metric.

The offensive line should be able to hold up so that Jeff Sims can get into a rhythm without an onslaught of pressure, and GT’s skill can hafindve advantages in space. You heard it here first: This will be the Jahmyr Gibbs multiple touchdown, breakout performance that the fanbase has been clamoring for.

When Duke Has the Ball

GT Defense vs. Duke

Metric GT Defense 2021 Duke Offense 2021 Advantage National Average
Metric GT Defense 2021 Duke Offense 2021 Advantage National Average
Success Rate 43% 49% Duke 42%
YPP 4.6 6.5 GT 5.7
EPA/Play 0 0.16 Duke -0.01
EPA/pass 0.19 0.13 Duke 0
EPA/rush -0.2 0.18 GT -0.01
YPA 6.9 8.6 Duke 7.4
3rd Down Success 48% 46% Duke 42%
Red Zone Success 46% 49% Duke 42%
Stuff Rate 18% 14% Duke 19%
Havoc Rate 11% 14% Duke 21%

On the other side of the ball, Duke looks to have a slight advantage. Mateo Durant is the name to know in Duke’s running game. He has 8 touchdowns and is going for over 120 yards per game and 6 yards per carry. Duke will look to feed him early and often, but Georgia Tech has been excellent at preventing explosive rushing plays.

When Duke drops back to pass, Jake Bobo and Jalon Calhoun are the top two targets for Gunnar Holmberg. Bobo is more of the possession guy, and Calhoun is more of a threat over the top. Durant also gets steady work in the passing game. Homlberg’s per pass numbers look good, but they are really inflated by the two performances against Kansas and NC A&T. Against UNC, who is by far the best defense that Duke has faced to date, Holmberg had one throw for 80 but averaged only 4.5 yards per attempt on his 23 other throws.

Duke is going to run Durant and look to hit explosive pass plays. The bet here is that GT can hold up against Durant, but the secondary will again be tested. Do we get the UNC defense or the Pitt defense? That’s likely to determine whether GT can win this game comfortably or end up in a shootout.

Prediction

The consensus Vegas line opened with GT favored by 4 and has moved down to 3.5, which translates to a 60% win probability for the Jackets.

The Binion Index, which is the college football projection model that I created and that we are hosting on FTRS, sees another toss-up. GT has a slightly higher rating in the model, but home field swings things just in Duke’s direction. The model projects a 1.01 point Duke victory, which is probably not what GT fans want to see coming off of last week’s debacle.

From my perspective, the advantage that GT’s offense should have in this game is likely only increased with a full game of Jeff Sims. GT’s offense should have a larger advantage over Duke’s defense compared to the machine on the other side. I like GT to cover and win straight up.

Vegas: GT by 3.5

My Pick: GT 35-28

The Binion Index: Duke by 1

Year to Date Against the Spread: 137-120-6 (53.2%, Goal: >=55%)

Average Absolute Error: 14.1 points per game (Goal <= 12.5 points per game)