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Georgia Tech Football: Spring Game Advanced(ish) Stats Review

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That wasn’t a real game, but that won’t stop us from looking for some answers

Danny Karnik Photos, Courtesy of GTAA

That was…something. I promised an advanced stats review, and I will deliver. But, uh, take all this with a grain of salt. In fact, as we look at the big questions we were tracking, we’ll assign each question a number of grains of salt between 1 and 5, based on how little we were able to learn. In case you missed Friday night’s action, here’s five things that happened that made it a little difficult to draw many conclusions from the action:

  • The same “team” got the ball multiple times in a row
  • An extra period was added impromptu
  • ACCN went to commercial during plays
  • Random points were added to the white team’s score in the middle of a play
  • The game ended on phantom sack

It was ridiculous…but let’s try to learn something.

Success Rates

GT Spring Game Success Rates

Success Rate O Gold Offense D White Offense National Avg
Success Rate O Gold Offense D White Offense National Avg
Down 1 54.50% 1 38.90%
2 66.70% 2 7.10%
3 40.00% 3 30.00%
4 4 100.00%
Qtr 1 33.30% 1 26.70%
2 63.60% 2 38.50%
3 90.00% 3 25.00%
Pass P 63.60% P 24.00% 41%
Rush R 47.10% R 36.80% 42%
Overall 56.40% 29.50% 42%

The gold team, as you’ll recall, was quarterbacked by Jeff Sims and Chayden Peery, and the white team was led by Jordan Yates and Demetrius Knight (although this may have changed during the 3rd period? One of Peery’s drives seemed to be credited to the white team). The gold team, as you would hope with the presence of the starting quarterback, dominated after the first period. The squad led by Sims and Peery had a very encouraging 64% Success Rate on pass plays. The Yates-Knight squad was…less effective throwing the football.

Number of Grains of Salt: 2 — The overall game flow played out as you would hope given the QB pecking order.

Advanced Box Score

GT Spring Game Advanced Box Score

Adv Box Score Gold Offense White Offense National Avg
Adv Box Score Gold Offense White Offense National Avg
Snap Count 39 45 71.5
# Pass Plays Called 22 25 31
Avg Starting FP 64 60.5 70.5
YPP 8.93 3.67 5.7
YPA (incl. sacks, scrambles) 10.68 5.96 7.39
% of Passes on 1st Down 59% 56% 40.17%
% of runs on 2nd and long 71% 60% 39.80%
Avg EPA/play 0.63 -0.01 -0.01
Avg EPA/pass 0.77 0.16 0
Total EPA 24.45 -0.57 -0.96
Avg Air Yards / Completion 6.5 17 6.14
Air Yards / Attempt 8.78 20.28 8.89
CP 77.78% 44.44% 62.54%
CPOE 15.17% -2.57% 0.00%
Total Line Yards 78.5 63 2.55
Opportunity Rate 52.94% 38.89% 42.42%
Power Success Rate 100.00% 68.60%
Stuff Rate (Offense) 0.00% 26.32% 19.17%
Havoc Rate 16% 12% 21.00%
Pressure Rate 24% 5% 30.70%

Again, the numbers tell a compelling story for the Sims-Peery team: almost 9 yards per play, 11 yards per pass attempt, and 0.63 EPA/play, which is outrageously high. The total EPA margin, 24-0 tells us how the game really went; CGC’s shenanigans with the scoreboard kept things entertaining at the end, but this was complete domination. When Sims or Peery was at quarterback, they were pressured on only 5% of their drop backs, there were no run stuffs (running plays that went for a loss or no gain), and they completed 78% of their passes, 15% over expectation given target depth. The Yates-Knight offense predictably struggled; their only real success came on a few deep throws to Malachi Carter and Avery Boyd.

Number of Grains of Salt: 3 — The quarterbacks faced wildly different defensive lineups. Sims-Peery appeared to mostly face 2s, so we shouldn’t read too much into their success.

Big Questions

Are GT’s defensive ends generating pressure without called blitzes?

GT Spring Game Defensive Disruption

Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs
Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs
Carpenter 1 0 1
Jackson 0 1 0
Clayton 1 0 1
Ebey 1 0 1
Harris 1 1 0
King 1 0 1
Ivey 0 1 0
Sims 1 0 0
Brooks 1 0 0
Edwards 1 0 0
Robinson 1 0 0
Kennard 0 3 0
Franks 1 0 0
Tatum 1 1 0
Scott 1 0 0
Griffin 0 1 0
Stone 1 0 1

Two guys stood out to me: Kevin Harris and Kyle Kennard. I credited Harris with one pressure and one sack, but he was a step away from 2 more pressures. Kennard had 3 pressures and looked explosive coming off of the edge. The athletic upside of this group has clearly taken a step up, although of course they need to prove it against ACC offensive lines.

Number of Grains of Salt: 4 — The “thud” rules made the disruption numbers pretty difficult to track, and CGC said the defense only used 4 calls all game.

Are the linebackers in the right place in terms of their run fits and pass coverage responsibilities?

Two more bright spots appeared here amongst the newcomers: Ace Eley and Trenilyas Tatum. I had Ebey with one TFL on a running play, and he showed good lateral mobility in pass coverage on a couple of occasions. Tatum flashed as well, especially on back to back plays in the first period when I thought the play should have been blown dead for a TFL by Tatum, followed by a near interception when he was in a great spot on an arrow route by Gibbs. I was hoping to see new guys make an impact here, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Number of Grains of Salt: 4 - Same as above

Is Jeff Sims accurate, especially on throws more than 10 yards down the field?

GT Spring Game QB Play

Player Success Rate EPA/play EPA/pass CP CPOE CPOE10+
Player Success Rate EPA/play EPA/pass CP CPOE CPOE10+
Sims 0.72 0.79 0.72 0.82 0.15 0.53
Yates 0.31 -0.17 -0.59 0.58 0.08 0.1
Peery 0.41 0.52 0.86 0.63 0.1 0.03
Knight 0.31 0.14 0.24 0.2 -0.23 -0.13

On the first two series, it didn’t seem like the coaches were going to let Sims throw the ball past the line of scrimmage. On his first seven plays, Sims had a total air yardage of -4. But they finally let him open up the offense in the second and third periods. His numbers ended up looking fantastic, averaging 0.72 EPA/pass play, completing 82% of his passes, 15% over expectation, and completing every single throw of more than 10 air yards. Friday night, the answer to this question was a definitive yes, and that keeps the possibility alive that Sims will take a big leap forward this fall.

Number of Grains of Salt: 4 - Sims largely faced backups, and he had more time to throw than would be expected against live competition.

Is the interior of the offensive line consistently able to hold their ground and prevent immediate disruption?

GT Spring Game OL Fails

Player # of fails
Player # of fails
Vaipulu 1
Rankins 1
Cochran 2

I created a new statistic to track Friday night: offensive line failed blocks. I was looking for those plays when an offensive lineman totally misses a block that creates huge disruption for the offensive play. Though I may have missed a few instances, the interior of the offensive line collectively accounted for only one fail over the course of the scrimmage, which came from Paula Vaipulu. The much more concerning number is that Devin Cochran had two failed blocks on back to back plays in the first period that caused a failed run play and then an incomplete pass on third down. The tentative returns for the interior of the line were positive, but Cochran needs to live up to his billing for the offense to reach its potential this fall.

Number of Grains of Salt: 4 - The defense wasn’t blitzing, and lots of reps came against defensive linemen who won’t see the field this fall.

Do you see one wide receiver who looks capable of being “the guy” this fall?

GT Spring Game Receiver Play

Receivers Receiving Success Rate Avg Target Air Yards Targets % of Team Air Yards YACatch
Receivers Receiving Success Rate Avg Target Air Yards Targets % of Team Air Yards YACatch
McGowan 1 5 3 2.87% 36
Jordan-Swilling 1 25 1 4.78% 0
Amerson 0.5 -2 2 -0.76% 28
Boyd 0.33 23.33 6 26.77% 8
Ezzard 0.5 12 2 4.59% 0
Carter 1 17.5 2 6.69% 8
Sanders 1 7 1 1.34% 10
Leonard 1 2 1 0.38% 6
Gibbs 0 -0.5 2 -0.19% 2
Devaney 1 20 1 3.82% 10
Norris 0 16.5 2 6.31% 2
Leonard 0 8 3 4.59% 0
McCollum 0.5 24.5 2 9.37% 23

Three things to note here:

The offensive staff must believe that Avery Boyd can be this guy; they targeted him 6 times, and most of those were deep throws. He caught two of them, including the longest play of the day on a 40 yard throw from Jordan Yates. None of his targets came from Sims, however, so it remains to be seen if Boyd can step into this big play role with the starting offense.

Malachi Carter is the most experienced returning receiver, and the staff didn’t give him very many live reps Friday night. But he made his mark with a long play down the sideline from Yates and then a late first down catch from Sims. He looks good, and his growth will be vitally important come September.

Ooo boy, Kyric McGowan. The Northwestern transfer looked electric; he took a pop pass on the opening play of the game from Jeff Sims for 11 yards, and he effectively ended the game on a 33 yard touchdown reception on a crossing route where he exploded after the catch. Patenaude and company clearly have high hopes for Kyric and will deploy him in a number of creative ways. He racked up 36 yards after the catch on three targets Friday night, and he had the look of “the guy.”

Number of Grains of Salt: 2 — There were walk on defensive backs in on some of these snaps, but most of McGowan’s success came against Above the Line guys.


That wasn’t exactly a football game, and the grain of salt level was high. But there was at least something to indicate improvement in all 5 of the areas we specifically tracked. The highlights for me: Harris and Kennard on the edge, Tatum and Eley at linebacker, Sims standing in the pocket, Minihan and Johnson holding their own, and McGowan and Carter making effortless big plays.

The offseason is more than half way over, and there’s energy on the Flats. We’ll be back next month beginning our 100 days to kickoff countdown.