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Georgia Tech Football: Advanced Stats Preview - GT vs. Boston College

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Boston College got Phil Jurkovec back, and that doesn’t bode well for Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Vs. Boston College Eagles At Alumni Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Entering Saturday’s contest on the Flats, Georgia Tech has lost three games in a row, while Boston College welcomed back Phil Jurkovec to beat Virginia Tech last week and break a four game losing streak. BC looks to get bowl eligible, while GT looks at its last game of the year that seems realistically winnable.

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. BC Defense

Metric GT Offense 2021 BC Defense 2021 Advantage National Average
Metric GT Offense 2021 BC Defense 2021 Advantage National Average
Success Rate 42% 39% BC 43%
YPP 5.4 5.7 BC 6.1
EPA/Play 0.09 0 BC 0.06
EPA/pass 0.03 0.01 BC 0.14
EPA/run 0.15 -0.02 GT -0.04
YPA (including sacks and scrambles) 6.3 7.1 BC 7.4
3rd Down Success 34% 34% BC 42%
Red Zone Success 38% 39% BC 45%
Run Stuff Rate 19% 18% GT 19%
Havoc Rate 10% 15% GT 21%
Explosive Play Rate 13.20% 11.30% GT 12.20%
*GT numbers come from my play by play charting. Opponent numbers come from @CFB_Data and teamrankings.com. Explosive play data comes from David Hale.
*I’ve updated some of the national averages based on season data to date.

Boston College has the advantage in most of our baseline efficiency metrics, but GT has an edge when it comes to the disruption and explosiveness elements. What does that look like? Quite a few short gains for GT, not a high likelihood of disaster plays, and the chance to hit some big ones. That’s not a recipe for consistent offense, but GT certainly has a chance to put some points on the board.

Last week, Jeff Sims averaged a season-low 5.0 air yards per attempt; that kind of attack won’t maximize GT’s chances against BC. If there is a physical reason that Sims had to throw short so frequently, it would probably be best to give Jordan Yates another chance. If that was a tactical decision, it was just wrong.

If GT is going to put up points on Saturday, it will look like big plays from the likes of Gibbs, Smith, McGowan, or Sanders. I wouldn’t expect to see much in the way of 12 play - 80 yard drives. But this is not a particularly imposing defense. Georgia Tech, with a good plan, can avoid havoc and create explosion.

When Boston College Has the Ball

GT Defense vs. BC Offense

Metric GT Defense 2021 BC Offense 2021 Advantage National Average
Metric GT Defense 2021 BC Offense 2021 Advantage National Average
Success Rate 47% 42% BC 43%
YPP 5.5 4.8 GT 6.1
EPA/Play 0.08 -0.01 GT 0.06
EPA/pass 0.31 -0.06 GT 0.14
EPA/rush -0.14 -0.01 GT -0.04
YPA 8.1 6.3 GT 7.4
3rd Down Success 49% 41% BC 42%
Red Zone Success 48% 41% BC 43%
Stuff Rate 18% 21% GT 19%
Havoc Rate 11% 17% BC 21%
Explosive Play Rate 10.30% 12.00% GT 12.20%

I’m going to be honest. I was not expecting so much GT in the Advantage column. But there’s one enormous hidden factor here: the quarterback position for Boston College. Phil Jurkovec has played in parts of 3 games - and averaged almost 11 yards per pass attempt. In his 8 appearances, Dennis Grosel averaged about 6. Of course, GT gets to face Jurkovec.

Looking back to last year doesn’t bode well for the GT defense. Jurkovec put up a 55% passing success rate, 8.2 yards per drop back, and 0.56 EPA/pass. And of course, the GT pass defense has been much worse this season. If Jurkovec is physically close to 100%, he should be able to have his way against the woeful GT secondary. Once again, it will probably look like a lot of 8-12 yard throws and giving Zay Flowers a lot of chances to pick up yards after the catch.

At this point, it’s hard to see GT’s defense having a truly successful performance against any P5 offense. I’m not sure what would change that this weekend.

Prediction

The consensus Vegas line opened as BC -2 and quickly jumped over to GT by 2, which translates to a 55% win probability for GT. Who is betting this?!?!

GT -2 does seem like the right line if Dennis Grosel was starting at quarterback for BC, but he is not. With Jurkovec going, BC looks like a a classic 3 point road favorite to me.

The Binion Index , looking at the season-long data that is about 23 based on snaps with Grosel, has GT as a 2.9 point favorite. And that kind of tossup prediction matches up with a more granular statistical breakdown. Looking at our categories above, BC has 11 areas of advantage to GT’s 11, and ESPN’S FPI shows BC with the 62 toughest schedule in the country to date, compared to 35th for GT.

But with Jurkovec playing, things are different. Boston College should win, as much as it pains me to say that.

Vegas: GT by 2

My Pick: Boston College 31-28

The Binion Index: GT by 3 (GT to cover)

Year to Date Against the Spread: 280-244-8 (53.4%, Goal: >=55%)

Average Absolute Error: 13.5 points per game (Goal <= 12.5 points per game)