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

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The coach wants you to believe that this team is close. Don’t believe him.

Georgia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Final Score: Miami 33-30

Model Prediction: Miami by 4.5, GT to cover: correct

Projected EPA (Offense and Defense) Margin of Victory: Miami by 2

GT Win Probability (Based on Success Rate, Yards Per Play, and EPA): 23%

On Saturday afternoon, Georgia Tech’s head football coach stood at the podium and appealed to the gathered reporters to focus on what had gone well. He insisted that this team is on the razor’s edge of a breakthrough, that it’s a “play here and a play there” holding this team back from the promised land. He wasn’t right. It’s more like “twenty plays here and there.”

Success Rate Comparisons

GT vs. Miami Success Rates

Success Rate O GT Offense D Opp Offense National Avg
Success Rate O GT Offense D Opp Offense National Avg
Down 1 28.00% 1 51.40%
2 26.10% 2 54.20%
3 36.80% 3 50.00%
4 33.30% 4 0.00%
Qtr 1 45.00% 1 55.00%
2 26.30% 2 31.60%
3 35.70% 3 70.60%
4 11.80% 4 47.40%
Pass P 28.60% P 55.30% 44%
Rush R 33.30% R 45.90% 42%
Overall 30.00% 50.70% 44%
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.

Sure, Georgia Tech stopped Miami on two crucial fourth downs. But they allowed Miami to convert 50% of its third downs on a whole lot bigger sample. And Miami was successful on 51% of its first down plays. And 54% on 2nd down. Unfortunately, those 75 plays matter a whole lot more than the two that the coach wanted everyone to talk about.

On the other side of the ball, there was no efficiency to be found. After a respectable 45% success rate in the first quarter, Georgia Tech dipped into the 20s, then bounced back to the 30s, then crashed the plane at a ghastly 12% success rate in the fourth quarter. A 21% success rate margin is akin to what Georgia Tech did to Kennesaw State, but that kind of spread just shouldn’t happen in a conference game between two comparable teams.

Success rate is one of the most predictive metrics that we have for future performance. Perhaps if the coach had a better inkling of that, he might be more realistic about exactly where this team is.

Advanced Stats Comparison and Positional Breakdowns

GT vs. Miami Advanced Box Score

Adv Box Score GT Offense Opp Offense National Avg
Adv Box Score GT Offense Opp Offense National Avg
Snap Count 73 77 71.5
# Pass Plays Called 42 38 31
Avg Starting FP 75.13 63.21 70.5
YPP 3.74 6.71 6.1
YPA (incl. sacks, scrambles) 3.5 10.5 7.39
% of Passes on 1st Down 46% 43% 40.17%
% of runs on 2nd and long 47% 14% 39.80%
Avg EPA/play -0.05 -0.02 0.06
Avg EPA/rush 0.2 -0.4 -0.04
Avg EPA/pass -0.21 0.34 0.13
Total EPA -3.17 -1.18 4.2
Avg Air Yards / Completion 2.86 11.14 6.14
Air Yards / Attempt 4.97 13.55 8.89
CP 58.33% 63.64% 62.54%
CPOE -9.22% 8.84% 1.90%
Line Yards per Carry 2.59 2.74 2.55
Opportunity Rate 40.74% 47.22% 42.42%
Power Success Rate 100.00% 28.57% 68.60%
Stuff Rate (Offense) 25.93% 24.32% 19.17%
Havoc Rate 15% 12% 21.00%
Pressure Rate 16% 26% 27.00%

Three numbers that you can’t miss:

  • Miami outgained Georgia Tech by 3 yards per play.
  • Miami averaged 7 more yards per drop back than Georgia Tech!
  • Miami averaged 9 more average air yards per completion than Georgia Tech.

Quarterback

GT QB vs. Miami

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
Sims 0.3 -0.05 -0.21 0.58 -0.09 -0.26 -0.35 -0.05 -0.26

This was not the turnover fest that happened in the Carrier Dome last year, but it ranks up there with the worst performances of Jeff Sims’s career. His average pass attempt travelled less than 5 yards past the line of scrimmage, and he completed 9% fewer passes than expected. On the deeper throws he did try, thing were much, much worse: -26% CPOE on 10+ yard throws and -35% CPOE on 20+ yard throws. On drop backs where he didn’t face pressure, Sims posted an EPA of -0.26/play. That’s roughly three standard deviations below average.

The lack of zip when trying to get throws to the sideline was baffling. The number of short hops was demoralizing. And the complete inability to threaten downfield allowed Miami to do whatever they wanted against GT’s rushing attack in the second half.

This was the fourth consecutive game that Jeff Sims posted a negative CPOE; the trajectory is once again quite discouraging at the most important position on the team.

Rushing

GT Rushing vs. Miami

Runner Carries Rushing Success Rate Highlight Yards
Runner Carries Rushing Success Rate Highlight Yards
Gibbs 9 0.33 41.5
Smith 3 0 0.5
Sims 6 0.5 9
McGowan 1 1 2.5
Mason 8 0.25 61.5

The two explosive rushing touchdowns brought light to a dark offensive performance. But beyond that, GT’s rushing attack ran into large bodies at the line of scrimmage time and time again. 26% of GT’s runs were stuffed (0 or negative yards), which is well below the national average and the third worst performance of the season for GT.

With the starting offensive line back in place for the first time in a month and a half, Georgia Tech couldn’t handle Miami’s front. 5 out of the 17 Mason or Gibbs rushes were successful. That’s a losing formula.

Receiving

GT Receiving vs. Miami

Receivers Receiving Success Rate Avg Target Air Yards Targets YACatch
Receivers Receiving Success Rate Avg Target Air Yards Targets YACatch
McGowan 0 5.14 7 3
Carter 0.36 5.64 11 19
Sanders 0.6 10.2 5 9
Gibbs 0.43 0.86 7 72
Leonard 0 1.5 2 0
McCollum 0 7.5 2 0
Mason 0.67 2 3 23

Sims was off, but nobody except for the savant did much to help him. Gibbs took a pass 50 yards to the house, and the rest of the team totaled 50 yards after the catch. The two most targeted receivers managed 4 successful completions on 18 targets. Separation wasn’t happening, and Sims had to come back to his check downs time after time. Miami was pressing and winning on the outside. Sims couldn’t throw a guy open, and the receivers couldn’t give him a window to find.

Offensive Line

This wasn’t the worst game of the season for the offensive line, but it didn’t help anything either. The linemen allowed pressure on 26% of the Sims drop backs (which is basically average), and Miami mustered only a 12% havoc rate. But the 26% run stuff rate we mentioned above was horrendous and would have been even worse if not for #1’s shiftiness.

For weeks, injuries could serve as an excuse for this group’s struggles. Saturday was supposed to be the get right game up front, but there was no progress to speak of.

Defensive Disruption

GT Disruption vs. Miami

Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs
Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs
Brooks 0 0 2
J. Thomas 3 0 1
Carpenter 2 0 1
Swilling 1 0 0
Jackson 1 2 4
Carter 1 0 0
Walker 3 0 0
Ivey 1 0 0
C. Thomas 1 0 1
Kennard 0 1 0
Yondjouen 0 1 0
Griffin 0 1 0

At halftime, Georgia Tech had posted a 26% havoc rate, and I was tweeting about it. And then reality came crashing back down, as the defense ended the game with anemic 15% havoc and 16% pressure rates once again. The blitzes didn’t get home, and the Miami team that had been allowing a 21% havoc rate was able to keep GT completely out of the backfield in the second half.

Give credit to Djimon Brooks for two huge run stuffs on third and fourth down plays, Quez Jackson for four run stuffs, and Wesley Walker for a pair of forced fumbles.

On the edge, Jordan Domineck was a non-factor, Jared Ivey got hurt and didn’t look quite right, and Keion White’s debut didn’t go the way that anyone hoped.

Pass Coverage

GT Coverage vs. Miami

Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed YAC Allowed
Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed YAC Allowed
J. Thomas 3 45.87% 11
Carpenter 2 -2.40% 4
Swilling 4 -12.47% 9
Walton 8 6.73% 41
Oliver 2 43.00% 28
Walker 4 -2.20% 19
King 2 37.00% 7
Sims 2 13.25% 4

The intermediate depth, middle of the field throws killed Georgia Tech once again. Safeties allowed too much space, and corners got beat when trying to trail crossing routes. Tyler Van Dyke averaged almost 14 air yards per attempt, he completed throws 11 yards down the field on average, and he posted an excellent +9% CPOE.

This wasn’t a case of one or two busts upsetting a solid performance; it was a play after play inability to stop Miami from throwing the ball.

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 2 point projected win for Miami. As you’ll see below, though, Miami’s turnovers played an outsized factor in keeping things that close.

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

Most Helpful Plays

  1. Jaylon King’s 40 yard scoop and score after Juanyeh Thomas forced the Miami fumble. 7.70 EPA.
  2. Jordan Mason’s 71 yard touchdown run on 3rd and 2 to get GT on the board. 6.90 EPA.
  3. Jeff Sims’s 50 yard pass touchdown to the electric Jahmyr Gibbs. 4.00 EPA.
  4. Tariq Carpenter’s forced fumble immediately after the Sims interception to give GT the ball back at their own 14. 3.78 EPA.
  5. Georgia Tech’s fourth down stop on 4th and 1 to take over at its own 27 in the fourth quarter. 3.37 EPA.
  6. Jahmyr Gibbs’s 29 yard touchdown run on 2nd and 2 to tie the game in the second quarter. 3.24 EPA.

Georgia Tech made some big plays in this game, no doubt. It was everything in between that led to the final outcome.

Most Hurtful Plays

  1. Jeff Sims’s interception on a 3rd and 15 throw that was returned to the GT 33. -4.56 EPA.
  2. Tyler Van Dykes’s 34 yard touchdown pass to Charleston Rambo on 3rd and 11 to put Miami up 14-0. -4.29 EPA.
  3. Miami’s 60 yard completion on the second half-opening flea flicker. -3.45 EPA.
  4. Brent Cimaglia’s missed 50 yard field, giving Miami the ball at their own 33. -3.40 EPA.
  5. Jeff Sims’s incomplete pass on 4th and 14 to end the game. -3.37 EPA.

Georgia Tech gained 11 Expected Points in this game in the turnover battle. While the coaching staff took credit for that after the game by discussing how much they “emphasize” getting turnovers, the point stands that turnovers almost always regress towards the mean, and what we are left with is more like a 2 touchdown win for Miami.

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 Goals vs. Miami

Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
GT CPOE >= 2% -9% -0.80%
Pressure Rate Allowed <=26% 26% 24%
Pass Rate on 1st Down >=50% 46% 49%
Defensive Passing EPA/play** <= -0.07 0.34 0.31
Defensive Havoc Rate >=21% 15% 11%
Defensive Pressure Rate >= 27% 16% 23%

Five out of six targets fell below the goal for the game, and five out of six sit below the goal for the season. That stacks up pretty well with 3-6. The improvement we wanted hasn’t come. Jeff Sims hasn’t thrown well enough. Dave Patenaude hasn’t put the offense in good enough situations. The pass defense has given up 0.34 EPA/pass or worse in five consecutive games! There’s no consistent disruption. And so here we are with another failed season.

Takeaways

  1. This is a team with a top 35 level of talent nationally who is playing as about the 75th best team in the country. When the coach talks about recruiting and development, it rings pretty hollow given those numbers. The only development I’ve seen is with his shoe collection.
  2. Other than the financial constraints that weigh like an anvil on the GTAA, there is no compelling reason for this coaching staff to return. A third straight three win season is well within sight. The last time Georgia Tech won 9 or fewer games in a three year span was 1980-1982 - what is generally considered the absolute low point in the history of the football program. That’s not elite, no matter how many press conference answers plead that it is.

The specifics I normally look for in this section don’t seem to matter right now. This is a well below average team trending in a negative direction, with two top 10 opponents awaiting in the final three weeks of the season. If the coach would admit how bad things are, it would give me just the slightest consolation. As things are, either he is is denial or clueless, and neither provides any hope for the way forward.