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

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We’ve reached the November homestretch, and GT is just not where we hoped it would be

Georgia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

I’m not really in the mood to preview this football game. I live a long way from Atlanta, but I was in the stands on Saturday. It left a foul, foul taste in my mouth. This is just not a good football team. But they’re our football team, and we’re going to stick together. We’ll be back on the field Saturday at 12:30 against the loathsome Hurricanes of Miami.

Two weeks ago, this game looked like one where GT had a decided advantage. Since then, Miami has 2 top 20 wins, and GT has 2 not-so-fun losses. The arrow has turned markedly towards the Canes. 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. Miami Defense

Metric GT Offense 2021 Miami Defense 2021 Advantage National Average
Metric GT Offense 2021 Miami Defense 2021 Advantage National Average
Success Rate 44% 43% Miami 44%
YPP 5.6 5.8 Miami 6.1
EPA/Play 0.1 0.12 GT 0.06
EPA/pass 0.07 0.1 Miami 0.14
EPA/run 0.15 0.14 GT -0.04
YPA (including sacks and scrambles) 6.8 7.6 Miami 7.4
3rd Down Success 32% 44% Miami 42%
Red Zone Success 38% 44% Miami 45%
Run Stuff Rate 18% 20% Even 19%
Havoc Rate 10% 17% GT 21%
Explosive Play Rate 13.20% 12.30% 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.

Slight advantage, Miami. There’s nothing scary about this Miami defense, but you could say something very similar about the Tech offense. Miami has the success rate and yards per play advantages, while GT holds a slight lead in EPA/play over the course of the year on this side of the ball.

That advantage comes solidly through the rushing attack. This is the third game in a row where GT has gone against a team with a much better passing defense than rushing defense. Over the last two weeks, the prescription we have given here is to pass on early downs (typical running situations) and then run in second and short type situations to take full advantage of the match-up. Against UVA, GT threw 65% of the time on first down and had its best performance of the year against an FBS defense. Against Virginia Tech, GT threw only 42% of the time on first down, and the overall effectiveness plummeted. Last week, GT ran more on first down and ran it worse.

That’s the pattern that the numbers have come to help us understand much better as football fans over the past few years. Passing on early downs, when the defense expects runs, leads to more efficient offense. Running on those stereotypical early downs leads to inefficiency. Yes, GT has a good running game. Yes, Miami has a bad rush defense.

So throw on 1st and 10, and run on 2nd and 2.

When Miami Has the Ball

GT Defense vs. Miami Offense

Metric GT Defense 2021 Miami Offense 2021 Advantage National Average
Metric GT Defense 2021 Miami Offense 2021 Advantage National Average
Success Rate 46% 41% GT 44%
YPP 5.3 5.2 GT 6.1
EPA/Play 0.09 0.01 GT 0.06
EPA/pass 0.3 0.05 Miami 0.13
EPA/rush -0.1 -0.04 GT -0.04
YPA 7.7 7.2 Miami 7.4
3rd Down Success 49% 37% Miami 42%
Red Zone Success 48% 37% GT 43%
Stuff Rate 17% 25% GT 19%
Havoc Rate 10% 21% Miami 21%
Explosive Play Rate 10.30% 12.20% GT 12.20%

Looking at the season-long numbers actually points in the direction of the GT defense. I’ll pause while you roll your eyes and contemplate closing the article. I know, it’s hard to believe. And it may not tell the full story, as the Tyler Van Dyke led Miami offense looks much better than the early season version. Van Dyke’s passing yards per attempt is 3 yards better than D’Eriq King’s, and he’s thrown 9 more touchdowns while throwing the same number of picks. Thankfully, for GT’s sake, Van Dyke does not show much in the running game, averaging 0.9 yards per attempt.

Miami’s offense, though, is turning into the clone of the UVA offense that hurt GT so much two weeks ago. In the last 3 Van Dyke starts, Miami has attempted a total of 120 passes. It’s going to be another huge test for the GT secondary, and we all know how those have gone fo far this year. Miami may throw on upwards of 70% of its offensive snaps given the relative matchup advantages here, and its hard to see that going well for GT. On the other hand, the Miami offensive line allows a porous 25% run stuff rate and a 21% havoc rate. This is the worst offensive line that GT has faced in a month. If the GT is going to push the havoc button ever again, this will be the week for it.

Prediction

The consensus Vegas line opened as Miami -7 and has jumped up to Miami by 10, which translates to a 25% win probability for GT.

The Binion Index does not look quite so favorably on Miami. Given some of their early season struggles, TBI has Miami as only a 4.5 point favorite. Looking at the matchups displayed above, Miami has 10 areas of advantage to GT’s 11, altough we should provide the context that ESPN’S FPI shows Miami with the 3rd toughest schedule in the country to date, compared to 42nd for GT. Miami has gone against the best of the best, and they look like they’re rounding into form at a bad time for GT. However, Miami is not that good. 10 is too many. Take GT and the points.

Vegas: Miami by 10

My Pick: Miami 35-28

The Binion Index: Miami by 4 (GT to cover)

Year to Date Against the Spread: 244-219-7 (52.7%, Goal: >=55%)

Average Absolute Error: 13.7 points per game (Goal <= 12.5 points per game)