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Georgia Tech Football: Advanced Stats Review - GT vs. BC

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Phil Jurkovec was back, and Georgia Tech made him look like Tom Brady

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Boston College at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Final Score: Boston College 41-30

Model Prediction: GT by 2.9 , GT to cover: incorrect

Projected EPA (Offense and Defense) Margin of Victory: BC by 21

GT Win Probability (Based on Success Rate, Yards Per Play, and EPA): 11%

Before we do anything else, let’s play a game called “Find Phil Jurkovec.”

Jurkovec breaks the chart
Jason Deloach, @CFBNumbers

Georgia Tech sunk further on Saturday afternoon, losing emphatically to a run of the mill Boston College team. Once again, the opposing quarterback had a career day. Jurkovec put the cherry on top, but 5 straight GT opponents have now hit their season high for offensive yardage against a P5 opponent. Honestly, I’m stunned that there has not been an announcement of coaching changes for the GT defense since the end of this one.

Once again, the coach blamed it on 3 third down plays plays to argue how “close” this team is. But the early down success rate for Boston College was just as good as the third down success rate. Once again, the coach promised to “get it fixed” after not getting it fixed. If you have a subscription to The Athletic, you could have read this week about how Georgia Tech’s defense has suffered the second biggest regression in the country in stop rate (“Stop rate is the percentage of a defense’s drives that end in punts, turnovers or a turnover on downs”) over the past 5 weeks. Nothing is getting fixed. Let’s dig into the details.

Success Rate Comparisons

GT vs. BC Success Rates

Success Rate O GT Offense D Opp Offense National Avg
Success Rate O GT Offense D Opp Offense National Avg
Down 1 65.60% 1 40.00%
2 50.00% 2 61.90%
3 54.50% 3 50.00%
4 33.30% 4
Qtr 1 82.40% 1 50.00%
2 42.90% 2 64.30%
3 52.90% 3 50.00%
4 53.30% 4 38.10%
Pass P 53.80% P 60.90% 44%
Rush R 61.30% R 41.70% 42%
Overall 57.10% 49.20% 43%
Success rate is the baseline metric for efficiency. As a reminder, a successful play gains 50% of the needed yards on 1st down, 70% on second down, and 100% on third or fourth down.

The 57% Success Rate that Georgia Tech’s offense posted on Saturday is extraordinary. The Jordan Yates led attack stormed out of the gate with an 82% SR in the first quarter, and all four quarters ended at or above the national average. Of course, the defense didn’t fare well in efficiency, and that doesn’t come close to telling the whole story about how badly things went on that side of the ball.

The Jackets ended up with an 8% advantage in Success Rate. Unfortunately, this is one of those games where success rate doesn’t tell the story of the game.

Advanced Stats Comparison and Positional Breakdowns

GT vs. BC Advanced Box Score

Adv Box Score GT Offense Opp Offense National Avg
Adv Box Score GT Offense Opp Offense National Avg
Snap Count 77 60 71.5
# Pass Plays Called 39 23 31
Avg Starting FP 66.9 70.4 70.5
YPP 4.47 7.97 6.1
YP Dropback (incl. sacks, scrambles) 4.9 14.09 7.39
% of Passes on 1st Down 46% 20% 40.17%
% of runs on 2nd and long 30% 15% 39.80%
Avg EPA/play 0.09 0.45 0.06
Avg EPA/pass -0.04 1.05 0.13
Avg EPA/rush 0.25 0.08 -0.04
Total EPA 6.29 27.31 4.2
Avg Air Yards / Completion 3.56 19.46 6.14
Air Yards / Attempt 7.14 17.9 8.89
CP 62.07% 65.00% 62.54%
CPOE -1.58% 16.10% 1.90%
Line Yards per Carry 3.32 2.99 2.55
Opportunity Rate 56.67% 44.44% 42.42%
Power Success Rate 100.00% 68.60%
Stuff Rate (Offense) 16.13% 19.44% 19.17%
Havoc Rate 9% 10% 21.00%
Pressure Rate 30% 28% 27.00%

Before we jump into the positional breakdowns, let’s hit a few of the top-line takeaways.

  • Boston College out gained Georgia Tech by 3.5 yards per play.
  • Boston College averaged 9 more yards per drop back than Georgia Tech!
  • Boston College averaged 16 more air yards per completion than Georgia Tech.

Quarterback

GT vs. BC QB play

Player Success Rate EPA/play EPA/pass CP CPOE CPOE10+ CPOE20+ EPAwPressure EPAnoPressure
Player Success Rate EPA/play EPA/pass CP CPOE CPOE10+ CPOE20+ EPAwPressure EPAnoPressure
Yates 0.57 0.05 -0.11 0.61 -0.02 -0.24 -0.12 -1.08 0.28

After finding out early in the week that he would be starting, Jordan Yates came out slinging. On its first possession, Georgia Tech had seven consecutive successful plays, driving 70 easy yards to take an early lead.

There were bright spots throughout: Yates found lanes on roll-outs to the right to hit two runs of nearly thirty yards apiece, and he made a couple of nice throws stepping up in the pocket to convert key first downs.

As the game flow settled in tough, Yates struggled to keep up. He couldn’t throw the ball effectively down the field (-24% CPOE on 10+ yard throws and -12% CPOE on 20+ yard throws), yet that was clearly the most promising way to take advantage of the Eagle defense. He threw a horrendous pick inside of the BC 10 yard line, and he missed a few open receivers over the middle. At the end of the day, Jordan Yates simply couldn’t take advantage of enough soft spots in the Boston College defense.

Rushing

GT Rushing vs. BC

Runner Carries Rushing Success Rate Highlight Yards
Runner Carries Rushing Success Rate Highlight Yards
Yates 3 0.67 0
Gibbs 19 0.58 33
Smith 4 0.75 12.5
Mason 5 0.6 22.5

The rushing attack was good across the board. Every ball carrier had a success rate of 58% or higher. The stuff rate was only 16%. Coach Patenaude did a great job of mixing in pistol sets and two back looks. The play-calling did a good job of minimizing the offensive line’s exposure and allowing the backs to make plays. This was a winning performance for the GT rushing attack.

One note: Jordan Yates’s numbers will appear much lower here than in the standard box score; his biggest runs were on scramble plays, so those appear in the passing play numbers for us.

Receiving

GT Receiving vs. BC

Receivers Receiving Success Rate Avg Target Air Yards Targets YACatch
Receivers Receiving Success Rate Avg Target Air Yards Targets YACatch
McGowan 0.33 18.33 3 1
Smith 1 0 2 11
Harris 0 30 1 0
Carter 0.67 8.67 3 4
Sanders 0.75 8.5 4 2
Gibbs 0.67 0.33 6 35
Norris 0.5 9.5 4 4
Leonard 0.4 5.4 5 9
McCollum 0 -5 1 1

Just as in the rushing attack, Jahmyr Gibbs led the way in the receiving department. No one on the outside was able to put up any kind of consistent production.

One signal of just how differently Yates conducts the offense is that Dylan Leonard was the second most targeted option. Dylan clearly fought through some injuries today, but he simply should never be the second most targeted receiver for GT. Kyric McGowan and Malachi Carter each had only three targets. No one was successful on downfield targets. Gibbs and Dontae Smith were the only targets to contribute anything significant after the catch. Once again, there just wasn’t enough from this group. Georgia Tech needs an explosive receiver in the worst way.

Offensive Line

GT OL vs. BC

Player # of FLOPS
Player # of FLOPS
54 0
57 0
60 2
70 1
77 1
79 2
80 1

The offensive line did enough for GT to win on Saturday. They surrendered only a 16% rush stuff rate (national avg. is 18%) and a 9% havoc rate. The pressure rate allowed did creep up to 28%, but that was largely due to surrendering pressure on 4 of the 6 final offensive plays. During the regular flow of the game, the offensive line managed to hold up.

Weston Franklin acquitted himself much better in his second week of significant action. Vaipulu had some struggles, while Jordan Williams looked much more solid on first viewing. There were some encouragements for the future along the offensive line on Saturday.

Defensive Disruption

GT Disruption vs. BC

Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs
Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs
J. Thoms 1 0 0
Jackson 0 1 1
Chimedza 0 1 0
Eley 1 0 2
Ivey 0 2 0
Huff 1 0 0
C. Thomas 2 0 2
Tatum 0 0 1
Domineck 0 1 0
Biggers 1 0 1
Lockhart 0 1 0

This was about what we have come to expect from the Georgia Tech defense in terms of disruption. As BC is prone to allow, the D posted a solid 19% run stuff rate. Jared Ivey got off early in the pass rush, although the GT defense never ended up getting home for a sack all day. Overall, GT put up a really good 30% pressure rate, although Jurkovec killed it on those plays to the tune of 1.63 EPA/drop back with pressure. Unfortunately, the defense mustered another terrible 9% havoc rate. Only two of those havoc plays from the secondary, and one came from freshman Jalen Huff, who forced the lone BC turnover of the day. One encouragement to note is how many freshman appear in the tallies above.

Pass Coverage

GT Coverage vs. BC

Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed YAC Allowed
Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed YAC Allowed
J. Thomas 2 15.00% 4
Carpenter 2 -3.80% 6
Swilling 2 69.70% 7
Jackson 1 47.00% 1
Walton 1 -30.60% 0
Walker 3 42.33% 16
King 1 59.00% 6
Sims 2 6.60% 1
Edwards 1 53.40% 0
Domineck 2 12.10% 10

The coach has promised us week after week that the problems on the backend would be fixed. Let’s take a look.

The national average for EPA/pass allowed is 0.13. How has GT done over the back half of the year?

Pitt: 0.59 EPA/drop back

Duke: 0.47

UVA: 0.46

VT: 0.42

Miami: 0.34

BC: 1.05

6 weeks of getting it fixed has brought us to a game where we allow over 1 Expected Point Added for the opponent every single time they dropped back to pass. The MVP of this game for Georgia Tech was BC’s play-caller, who chose to only ask Phil Jurkovec to drop back on 23 out of BC’s 60 snaps. This could have been so, so much uglier if he had dropped to throw 35 times.

Swilling was torched by Zay Flowers. Thomas was torched by Zay Flowers. Domineck was put in a spot trying to cover a tight end that should have never happened. Walker and King let guys find space.

Zamari Walton was the only secondary player not to give up a significant catch on the day. There’s just not a lot of grounds for optimism here, and this group is the most glaring proof of how poorly Hef and Co. have been in developing the players on the roster.

One more personnel issue here that is beyond comprehension: in the post game presser, the coach went out of a his way to emphasize that #3 had been hurt all week as a way to explain away the two times he was torched. Why was he playing then?!?! He hasn’t been good when healthy, and he gets left on an island with Zay Flowers. That is coaching malpractice.

EPA Highlights

EPA calculates the expected number of points added (or lost in the case of a negative number) on a particular play based on the down and the location on they field.

The EPA totals for this game leave us with a 21 point projected win for Boston College. The Jahmyr Gibbs kickoff return touchdown helped GT make things look much closer than they were on a play by play basis.

As always, we’ll take a look at the most helpful and hurtful offensive and defensive plays for GT.

Most Helpful Plays

  1. Jaylen Huff’s forced and recovered fumble for GT after a 9 yard BC run to the GT 15. 4.28 EPA.
  2. Jordan Mason’s 26 yard run to the BC 2 early in the 2nd quarter. 2.73 EPA.
  3. Jordan Yates’s 22 yard pass to Kyric McGowan to convert a 3rd and 16 in the 1st quarter. 2.67 EPA.
  4. Jordan Yates’s 12 yard touchdown pass to Malachi Carter to give GT a 14-7 lead. 2.54 EPA.

No offensive plays over 3 EPA. The explosives did not materialize nearly enough for GT in this one, and as you’ll see below, that was certainly not the case on the other side of the ball.

Most Hurtful Plays

  1. Phil Jurkovec’s 49 yard touchdown pass to Zay Flowers with Tre Swilling on the receiving end. 4.38 EPA.
  2. Phil Jurkovec’s 31 yard touchdown run on 3rd and 4 to extend BC’s lead to 8. 4.11 EPA.
  3. Phil Jurkovec’s 39 yard touchdown to Zay Flowers with Juanyeh Thomas getting beat. 3.79 EPA.
  4. Jordan Yates’s sack and fumble on the 4th and 14 play that effectively ended the game. 3.63 EPA.
  5. Phil Jurkovec’s 38 yard completion on a 3rd and 9, burning Tre Swilling for the second time in the game. 3.55 EPA.
  6. Jordan Yates’s interception from the BC 12. 3.52 EPA.

There was one other Boston College offensive play worth over 3 EPA that could have been included, but that is enough pain for one week. BC hit GT with one explosive after another - 10 explosives to GT’s 3, per Gameonpaper.com. Coming into the game, Georgia Tech had the advantage on both sides of the ball in explosive play rate, but that didn’t hold on Saturday, and it largely defined the game.

Tracking Season Goals

*I set these goals for the 2021 season in some of my offseason preview work. We will be tracking them as we go this year.
**The pass defense EPA goal has been modified to reflect the uptick in success offensive passing games have had in college football over the past two years.

GT Season Goals after BC

Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
GT CPOE >= 2% -2% -1%
Pressure Rate Allowed <=26% 28% 25%
Pass Rate on 1st Down >=50% 46% 48%
Defensive Passing EPA/play** <= 0.07 1.05 0.36
Defensive Havoc Rate >=21% 9% 11%
Defensive Pressure Rate >= 27% 30% 23%

Once again, five out of six numbers fell below the goal for the game, and five out of six sit below the goal for the season. There is plentiful evidence just in these numbers that the so-called progress isn’t reality. The pass defense and havoc rate are far away the worst that they have been during this coach’s tenure. The slight offensive improvement has been dwarfed by defensive regression.

Takeaways

  1. I don’t know that the coach meant to say it this way, but he slipped into admitting perhaps the truest thing he has said these past three years. When answering a question about the defense, he said that there are “Organizational issues on every single level.” Yes, yes there are. Who is ultimately responsible for that, do you think?
  2. Jordan Yates is a fierce competitor, but the offense loses so much of its explosive upside with him at the helm. Averaging a 13% explosive play rate on the season, the offense mustered only 3% explosives on this Saturday. We all know the adage about the backup quarterback being the most popular player on the roster; at the end of the day, Jeff Sims still gives this team its most promising outlook.

The next two weeks are going to be so, so ugly. I’m sorry. 9 wins in 3 years here we come. It’s not just the losses; the underlying team quality keeps regressing. A look at a consensus of some of the best computer ratings out there shows that this team has fallen from somewhere in the mid 40s nationally after the UNC game to somewhere closer to 80th. And the two best opponents of the year await. Look away if you don’t like carnage.