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Georgia Tech Football: What Should We Learn This Week - Boston College

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Oh man, Jurkovec is back.

Virginia Tech v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Well last week saw a few good things, but ultimately, Tech failed to pull out the victory out of the jaws of defeat. Before we take a look at what might be Tech’s last winnable game, let’s take a look back.

Will Keion White finally play this week?

The answer is yes! Unfortunately, it didn’t make much of a difference, but White was finally able to make his season debut for Georgia Tech. He was credited with one tackle on the day and didn’t make much of an impact throughout the game from what I could tell.

Can the defense find a way to shut down a hot Tyler Van Dyke?

Uhhh....TVD passed for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns while averaging nearly 11.5 yards per attempt, so yeah, that’s a no.

Can the Yellow Jackets build on their two-game win streak over Miami?

They did build on a two-game streak. Unfortunately, it was their two-game losing streak they had going this season.


Looking forward to this week, let’s see what we can learn as the season starts to wind down.

Can Geoff Collins eclipse his highest win total at Georgia Tech?

As sad as this may feel, and as much as I would like to think otherwise, I think this is Georgia Tech’s most winnable remaining game. After this game, Tech has games remaining against Notre Dame in South Bend and what looks to be an unbeatable UGA team. This game is honestly Geoff Collins’ best chance to eclipse his highest win total at Georgia Tech.

As of right now, the Yellow Jackets sit at three wins on the season, which is how many games Collins and his staff won in each of their first two seasons. What’s different about this season is that only two of their wins this year came against FBS teams, granted both wins were also over conference opponents.

The longer the season goes on, the more Georgia Tech’s opening loss to Northern Illinois has become indicative of the season. You want to hope and think that this team is capable of winning games it should, but they keep falling just short.

Can Georgia Tech do anything about Phil Jurkovec?

I was feeling pretty good about this game until last week when it was announced that Boston College Phil Jurkovec was returning. After initially thought to be missing the whole season due to injury, Jurkovec recovered remarkably and started the Eagles’ game against Virginia Tech last week.

Now, Jurkovec was seemingly limited last week, attempting just 13 passes for 112 yards (8.6 yards per attempt. But the Eagles’ victory ended a four-game losing streak, which saw losses to Clemson, NC State, Louisville, and Syracuse. In those games, they never scored more than 14 points.

I don’t think the Eagles are suddenly going to turn into Alabama, but I don’t think the addition of Jurkovec should be understated. Last season, Jurkovec showed just what kind of quarterback he can be, completing more than 60 percent of his passes for over 2,500 yards for 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also won’t beat you with big plays necessarily (he averaged less than 8 yards per pass attempt last season), but he’s reignited a Boston College team that thought its season was over.

Can the offense move the ball without relying on explosive plays?

So as a casual observation, I have noticed that Georgia Tech’s offense seems to live or die on explosive plays. Take last week for example. The running game seemed to do pretty well, right? Jordan Mason and Jahmyr Gibbs combined for 142 yards and two TDs on the ground. Those two also had longs of 71 and 29 respectively. Take those two away, and those two suddenly combine for just 42 yards on 15 carries (2.8 yards per carry).

This got me thinking, so I dug into some advanced stats to see just how good Georgia Tech’s offense was when it didn’t have explosive plays to rely on. Here’s what I found:

Ed. Note: For this chart, I compiled information from the database that Akshay helped build called gameonpaper.com. It’s a really cool resource, and you should definitely check it out!

Georgia Tech EPA Sans Explosive Plays

Metric Kennesaw State Clemson North Carolina Pittsburgh Duke Virginia Virginia Tech Miami
Metric Kennesaw State Clemson North Carolina Pittsburgh Duke Virginia Virginia Tech Miami
Scrimmage Plays (Pass/Run) 57 (25/32) 72 (37/34) 62 (20/42) 61 (33/28) 64 (26/38) 78 (45/33) 55 (27/28) 69 (40/29)
EPA/Play 0.14 -0.08 0.23 -0.21 -0.01 0.33 -0.12 -0.13
Explosive Plays 5 (9%) 4 (6%) 7 (11%) 4 (7%) 4 (6%) 7 (9%) 5 (9%) 5 (7%)
EPA/Play Excluding Explosive Plays -0.11 -0.24 -0.15 -0.53 -0.2 -0.05 -0.5 -0.48
EPA/Pass 0.5 0.08 0.12 0.03 0.2 0.24 -0.14 -0.21
Explosive Pass Plays (EPA > 2.4) 4 (16%) 3 (8%) 2 (10%) 4 (12%) 4 (15%) 4 (9%) 2 (7%) 3 (8%)
EPA/Play Excluding Explosive Pass Plays 0.04 -0.18 -0.23 -0.49 -0.46 -0.09 -0.52 -0.5
EPA/Run -0.14 -0.24 0.28 -0.5 -0.15 0.45 -0.1 -0.03
Explosive Run Plays (EPA > 1.8) 1 (3%) 1 (3%) 5 (12%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 3 (9%) 3 (11%) 2 (7%)
EPA/Play Excluding Explosive Run Plays -0.2 -0.31 -0.1 -0.5 -0.15 0.01 -0.49 -0.45
gameonpaper.com was built by Akshay Easwaran, Saiem Gilani and others. Data comes from ESPN.com. Table compiled by Benjamin Tankersley

Looking at this graph is not a very inspiring. While Georgia Tech has done a good job of getting around 4 or 5 explosive plays every game, the offense is simply not performing at a level at which it can expect to win games.

Before I took out the explosive plays, Georgia Tech had three games where the offense had a positive EPA/play output. After taking out the explosive plays, Georgia Tech’s offense had zero games where the offense had a positive EPA/play output. There were only two categories that did have a positive output after taking out the explosive plays: EPA/pass against Kennesaw State (0.04) and EPA/run against Virginia (0.01), and they were both less than 0.1 EPA/play.

Simply put, Georgia Tech has not proved that it’s offense is capable of winning games without relying on explosive plays. Sure, explosive plays are great, and they always provide a nice boost to your offense. However, if your offensive output outside of those plays isn’t a net positive, then I would say your offense is too reliant on explosive plays and is in severe need of offensive consistency.

Anyway, here’s hoping we see a change in that this week against Boston College’s pretty solid defense. I’m not super optimistic, but here’s hoping!

What are you hoping to learn this week?