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Georgia Tech Football: GT Defense vs. Ole Miss Advanced Stats Review

Fire the coach. We can’t evaluate much else until that happens. 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Ole Miss at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Final Score: Ole Miss 42-0

Model Prediction: Ole Miss by 13, GT to cover: Incorrect

Projected EPA (Offense and Defense) Margin of Victory: Ole Miss by 32.5 (through mid third quarter when garbage time started)

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

If you’re reading, you know how bad that game was. The fans booed the coach on his way into the locker room and then made their displeasure all the more clear by exiting en masse in the third quarter. The opposing head coach has since made clear that he didn’t really try to pass because he felt sorry for what was happening on the Georgia Tech sideline. If that doesn’t signal the end of a failed era, I don’t know what does.

Advanced Stats Comparison

When Ole Miss Had the Ball

The Rebels ran at will. After the Western Carolina game, we identified concerns with the rushing defense and pointed to the good performance that the Catamounts had in line yards and opportunity rate. Well, Ole Miss followed that up by logging 100th percentile performances in both of those numbers. Beyond that, the Rebels put by elite performances in EPA/play, EPA/rush, total EPA, air yards per completion, and air yards per attempt. They did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

Rushing Defense

What did Ole Miss think of GT’s rush defense? In the first quarter alone, they called designed runs on 3rd and 7, 3rd and 8, 3rd and 16 - and succeeded on all of them. Passing on second and long doesn’t have to be the strategy when you’re facing a defense that can’t get lined up and can’t maintain any kind of gap integrity. This must be what Louisville felt like against GT in 2018. You know what that Louisville team did? They fired their coach. Good idea.

Defensive Disruption

GT Disruption vs. Ole Miss

Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs PFF Pass Rush Grade PFF Run Defense Grade
Player Defending Havoc Plays # of Pressures # of Run Stuffs PFF Pass Rush Grade PFF Run Defense Grade
Sims 1 0 1 78.6
Thomas 2 0 2 55.2 53.7
Eley 3 1 2 72.8 81.7
White 1 2 1 59 60
Kennard 0 0 2 56.4 43.1
Yondjouen 0 3 0 74.4 70.7
Collins 1 1 0 56.2 71.8
Stone 1 0 0 59.5 58.4

Interestingly, GT graded out pretty well in the disruption metrics. As much as we criticized Ace Eley for his play last week, he was the most ferocious GT defender on this ill-fated day. Credit to him for battling when sometimes it seemed as if no one else was with him. Charlie Thomas had his worst game in a while, and the defensive line was non-existent.

Despite the decent disruption numbers, it was everything else that happened that defined the day. Every GT defensive tackle who played significant snaps graded 60 or lower on PFF, including two in the 40s. Two defensive ends checked in in the 40s as well. Any thoughts of defensive line improvement can safely be discarded at this point, although the inability to get plays in on time on defense certainly set these guys up for failure.

Pass Coverage

GT Coverage vs. Ole Miss

Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed YAC Allowed PFF Coverage Grade
Player in Primary Coverage Targets CPOE Allowed YAC Allowed PFF Coverage Grade
Sims 1 39.00% 3 64.3
Walton 2 56.35% 3 59.2
King 5 8.90% 13 71.2
Wallace 2 49.00% 17 45.7

Ole Miss didn’t need to throw, but when Dart did throw, it was damaging for GT. He averaged over 12 air yards per attempt, which is an enormous number, and still managed an above average Completion Percentage over Expectation.

Last week, we identified two glaring personnel issues in the secondary. On Saturday, LaMiles Brooks got the start we called for over Derrik Allen and proved his mettle further. He out graded Allen 66.5 to 53.6 once again. At the nickel spot, the starting guy remained in place, and my confusion is only magnified. He was torched on two targets once again. Kaleb Edwards finally got some run later in the game and gave more evidence that the original decision was the wrong one. Edwards graded at 71.6 in coverage but only played 13 snaps. Wallace graded at 45.7, but he played 71 snaps. Why? Why?

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.

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

Most Helpful Plays

  1. 3.40 EPA - Missed Ole Miss FG in the first quarter. GT’s best play of the day was something the team basically has no control over. Great!

This hurts so bad that it’s almost funny. No offensive or defensive play cracks our threshold. That tells you so, so much.

Most Hurtful Plays

  1. -3.50 EPA - Jeff Sims sacked on 4th and goal from the 4, and the GT offense never threatened again.
  2. -3.27 EPA - Blocked Punt again. Yay!
  3. -3.06 EPA - 26 yard touchdown run to make it 21-0
  4. -3.00 EPA - 20 yard run on 3rd and 16. This was just clowning the defense

This list has it all: a failure to block at all on a fourth down play where GT could have gotten back within a touchdown, a third blocked punt of the season, and two listless efforts at run defense. What a disaster of a game.

Tracking Season Goals

*I set these goals for the 2022 season in some of my offseason preview work. We will be tracking them as we go this year.


Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
Metric Season Goal This Week Season Long
GT CPOE >= 2% -4% -4%
Pressure Rate Allowed <=26% 27% 22%
Run Rate on 2nd Down and Long <=40% 56% 61%
Average Depth of Target >=9 8.4 9.5
Defensive Passing EPA/play <= 0.08 0.39 0.1
Defensive Havoc Rate >=18% 15% 16%
Defensive Pressure Rate >= 27% 31% 24%

On offense, we get more evidence that the staff’s decision to put all of their eggs in the Sims basket just isn’t wise. The pressure rate allowed is really not awful. But when pressure happened, Sims averaged -1.2 EPA/dropback. It’s as if some of the time the line decides not to block at all. The rate of pressure isn’t as high as we have seen in previous years, but the magnitude of the pressures is extreme. Going further, it is apparent that Long doesn’t trust Sims, as he keeps calling runs way too frequently on second and long. Finally, the increase in target air yards is interesting; downfield passing is up from last year but has been completely ineffective, mostly because Sims hasn’t gotten better and GT doesn’t have a good receiver outside.

On defense, the overall pass efficiency defense measured in EPA/pass plummeted even though Ole Miss barely threw. GT created a decent number of havoc plays but what happened in between was catastrophic. The pressure rate was good, but it didn’t matter. The rushers couldn’t contain the quarterback, and the guys in back couldn’t cover.


  1. Fire the coach. We can’t evaluate much else until that happens.