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

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GT has a tradition of coaches who do more with less, but now we seem beholden to one who does less with more. 

NCAA Football: Georgia at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: 45-0 Georgia (Garbage Time began at 31-0 early in the third)

Model Prediction: UGA by 49, UGA to cover: correct

Projected EPA (Offense and Defense Pre Garbage Time) Margin of Victory: UGA by 29

GT Win Probability (Based on Success Rate, Yards Per Play, and EPA): 1%

COFH will be known as clean old-fashioned embarrassment until further notice. We told you this was coming, and no more than 10,000 members of the GT fanbase decided to witness the horror show in person.

Since Saturday, three assistants have been fired, but the root of the problem remains. There are seemingly timeless issues with support and funding for the GTAA, which we plan to spend a lot more time on as a site this offseason. There is the perpetual resource imbalance between GT and its biggest rivals. However, three of GT’s five head football coaches before the current one found ways to overcome that and lead significant seasons that included wins over that school from Athens. GT has a tradition of coaches who do more with less, but now we seem beholden to one who does less with more.

No sane GT fan expected to win on Saturday. But the flow of that game felt like some high school administrator had mistakenly scheduled a 7A powerhouse versus a 1A struggler to open the GHSA season.

It’s time to close out this column for the season by unpacking clean old-fashioned embarrassment.

Success Rate Comparisons

GT vs. UGA Success Rates

Success Rate O GT Offense D Opp Offense National Avg
Success Rate O GT Offense D Opp Offense National Avg
Down 1 27.30% 1 60.00%
2 30.00% 2 76.90%
3 25.00% 3 25.00%
4 4
Qtr 1 18.20% 1 68.80%
2 33.30% 2 27.30%
3 3 90.00%
4 4
Pass P 8.30% P 68.20% 44%
Rush R 41.20% R 53.30% 42%
Overall 27.60% 62.20% 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.

After surrendering a 29% success rate margin to Notre Dame last week, Georgia Tech managed to up the deficit to nearly 35%. On the season, UGA was averaging about a 20% SR margin over its opponents but managed to humiliate GT to the point of nearly doubling their season-long advantage. UGA faced only five third downs the entire game, all while Todd Monken seemingly called the game from the page marked “Don’t show Alabama anything.” Against the most vanilla of offensive plans, GT had no chance.

And on the other side of the ball, the 8% passing success rate speaks volumes about how far away this offense is from being competitive with real defenses. Yes, there were injuries. No, that doesn’t excuse managing one successful pass play in two and a half quarters of play. And looking at the full game, including garbage time, the discrepancy actually got worse, even as GT continued to play starters up against the bottom of the UGA travelling squad.

Advanced Stats Comparison and Positional Breakdowns

GT vs. UGA Advanced Box Score

Adv Box Score GT Offense Opp Offense National Avg
Adv Box Score GT Offense Opp Offense National Avg
Snap Count 31 38 71.5
# Pass Plays Called 12 22 31
Avg Starting FP 75 74.17 70.5
YPP 1.29 8.54 6.1
YP Dropback (incl. sacks, scrambles) 0.33 12.41 7.39
% of Passes on 1st Down 33% 62% 40.17%
% of runs on 2nd and long 71% 25% 39.80%
Avg EPA/play -0.29 0.55 0.06
Avg EPA/rush -0.01 0.11 -0.05
Avg EPA/dropback -0.69 0.87 0.13
Total EPA -8.51 20.89 4.2
Avg Air Yards / Completion -2.5 6.64 6.14
Air Yards / Attempt 3.8 10 8.89
CP 40.00% 70.00% 62.54%
CPOE -28.96% 10.24% 1.90%
Line Yards per Carry 2.76 3.83 2.55
Opportunity Rate 41.18% 66.67% 42.42%
Power Success Rate 100.00% 68.60%
Stuff Rate (Offense) 23.53% 0.00% 19.17%
Havoc Rate 5% 16% 21.00%
Pressure Rate 5% 42% 27.00%

This is the fourth consecutive week of pointing out the massive discrepancies in some of the most important top-line numbers because of the sheer imbalance.

  • Georgia out gained Georgia Tech by 7.3 yards per play!
  • Georgia averaged 12 more yards per drop back than Georgia Tech! Last week, Notre Dame cleared GT by 9 yards in this category, and I thought that was an insurmountable margin. Silly me.
  • Georgia averaged 0.84 more EPA/play than Georgia Tech.

Quarterback

GT QB vs. UGA

Player Success Rate EPA/play EPA/pass CP CPOE CPOE10+ EPAwPressure EPAnoPressure
Player Success Rate EPA/play EPA/pass CP CPOE CPOE10+ EPAwPressure EPAnoPressure
Yates 0.28 -0.29 -0.69 40% -29% -53% -1.01 -0.47

Jordan Yates got the start over an apparently available (but certainly not fully healthy) Jeff Sims. It was his sixth start of the season, but he was not able to produce any threat of a passing game. As shown in the advanced box score above, Yates’s average pass travelled less than 4 yards past the line of scrimmage, but even more telling, his average completion came 2.5 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

He didn’t complete a single pass before garbage time that travelled ten yards in the air, and his CPOE came in at nearly -30%, a season worst mark for either GT quarterback. Once again, Yates certainly wasn’t helped by his protection, as evidenced by the 42% pressure rate. But even when not pressured, he lost nearly a half point of EPA per drop back. Despite his best efforts, he was completely overwhelmed by the speed, physicality, and instincts of the opposing defense.

Rushing

GT Rushing vs. UGA

Runner Carries Rushing Success Rate Highlight Yards
Runner Carries Rushing Success Rate Highlight Yards
Yates 3 0.33 0
Gibbs 1 0 0
Smith 4 0.27 19.5
Mason 9 0.21 18

Jahmyr Gibbs left the game for good after an ill-advised swing pass that lost 4 yards late in the first quarter. Dontae Smith and Jordan Mason ran hard and found daylight a few times, but the line surrendered a 24% stuff rate and over the course of the game, no back managed to clear 27% in Success Rate. It’s hard to put much blame on the backs, though. They managed to fight and break tackles against the best defense in the country. There was just never enough space to come close to finding the end zone.

Receiving

The only successful pass play before garbage time was a screen to Jordan Mason that went for 12 yards. Noticeably, it was one of only two times that GT threw on first down. As we’ve tried to argue all year, the relative weakness of the GT passing game makes it even more important to throw on first downs so that the defense isn’t all-out playing the pass. As it was, Yates ended up in one passing down after another and couldn’t do anything. Receivers couldn’t get open. The mismatch of talent on the outside was almost as startling as on the line of scrimmage.

Offensive Line

Speaking of the line of scrimmage, we can be brief here. No one expected this to go well, and it didn’t. The 24% run stuff rate and 42% pressure rate, which are abysmal, were actually better than last week. But this group didn’t stand a chance. Without a miraculous in-flux of transfer talent, it’s also hard to see why next year will be much different.

GT OL vs. UGA

Player # of FLOPS
Player # of FLOPS
Williams 3
Johnson 3
Franklin 1
Cochran 1

I was generous in not overly assigning FLOPS, but in just 31 non-garbage offensive snaps, you can see how badly the right side of the line did trying to hold its ground. Though he featured prominently in the most egregious looking OL play of the day (the Jordan Yates sack on 4th down in the early 4th quarter), Devin Cochran has been far and away the best member of this group all year. It’s hard to see right now where a replacement for him and upgrades at the other spots could come from.

Defensive Disruption

GT Disruption vs. UGA

Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs
Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs
Q. Jackson 1 0 0
K. Johnson 1 0 0
Domineck 1 1 0

I didn’t think it was possible to have an emptier disruption table than we saw last week. But somehow, someway, Coach Thacker’s troops pulled it off. The defense managed to not stuff a single UGA running play before garbage time and got pressure on exactly one pass play, when Mike Lockhart jumped in to assist a Jordan Domineck sack that netted a loss of two yards. Not to worry, UGA went for 17 on the next play.

The hope I had for an increasingly disruptive defense in 2021 was fool’s gold. This unit got more and more passive as the year went on, as the front four almost never got a push, the linebackers rarely got home on blitzes, and the secondary was never anywhere near the ball. This was a three-level failure.

Pass Coverage

GT Coverage vs. UGA

Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed YAC Allowed
Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed YAC Allowed
Swilling 3 -16.13% 5
Walton 2 39.00% 70
Oliver 2 41.00% 0
Sims 5 36.40% 17

In what was apparently his last game on the Flats, Tre Swilling had an admirable performance from the nickel. Otherwise, this was a complete disaster. Stetson Bennett put up a solid +10% CPOE, a remarkable 12.4 yards per dropback, and a devastating 0.87 EPA/dropback. He ended up second best this season on the murderer’s row of EPA passing numbers against the horrific GT pass defense, which will comfortably finish as the least efficient pass defense in all of FBS. The first news that broke early Sunday surely came as no surprise to an observer of this football team, even if that actually won’t solve the problems.

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 29 point projected win for UGA through the first drive of the third quarter. At least the margin stayed below a point per minute! Interestingly, this game proceeded without a turnover for either side, so the margin for UGA grew entirely from play to play dominance.

“Highlights”

A play of 3.0 EPA or close to it is usually the threshold to make our list of impact plays here. Unfortunately, GT’s best play before garbage time only accounted for 1.53 EPA. And it was a 3 yard run on 3rd and 2 by Dontae Smith. A three yard run was the most impactful play for GT’s offense in non-garbage snaps.

Lowlights

GT’s biggest letdowns included Bennett’s 25 yard TD to Burton (3.0 EPA) and of course, the 77 yard TD to Brock Bowers (6.6 EPA). Otherwise it was a stream of methodically efficient plays that GT could never stop.

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 beed modified to reflect the uptick in success offensive passing games have had in college football over the past two years.

GT Season Long Goals after UGA

Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
GT CPOE >= 2% -29% -2.30%
Pressure Rate Allowed <=26% 42% 27%
Pass Rate on 1st Down >=50% 33% 46%
Defensive Passing EPA/play** <= 0.07 0.87 0.41
Defensive Havoc Rate >=21% 5% 10%
Defensive Pressure Rate >= 27% 5% 22%

Appropriately, GT went 0/6 on the week and fell to 0/6 for the season. You remember all of that offseason writing about why things would be better in 2021? None of it came true, but the man in charge gets another year. Color me baffled.

Takeaways

  1. In case you didn’t remember the last time GT suffered such excruciating defeats in back to back weeks, that’s because it hadn’t happened since 1903. After that, the administration went out and made a gangster hire in John Heisman. Something tells me this story isn’t quite trending in that direction. We’re not hiring Saban next month.
  2. Georgia Tech finishes Year Three of the Collins Error as a team whose composite rating falls somewhere in the mid 90s of the FBS. I’m cynical, but I think the numbers give me every reason to be. Without admitting the mistake of the past and investing the resources to begin anew, I see no trend pointing in a positive direction.

I don’t expect to be a blue-blood. That ship sailed in the 60s. But I expect competence, resourcefulness, and creativity. I’m yet to see a whiff of those ideals from this regime.

We’ll be back this offseason with plenty more digging into the 2021 season and looking to the future. We’re glad to have you along for the ride with us at FTRS. Thanks for reading, commenting, and having fun with us through another painful year!