After making it above .500 for the first time since Week 1 of the 2020 season, Brent Key’s Yellow Jackets fell to Clemson in Death Valley 42-21. The full advanced box score (courtesy of Game On Paper) can be found below, but today, we’ll be covering the weird yin-yang dynamic of the offensive line and the impact it has on Tech’s offense.
The Yin-Yang Dynamic of the Offensive Line
One of the biggest storylines for Georgia Tech this year has been the improvement along the offensive line. The Yellow Jackets have had very little trouble running the ball, and Haynes King is one of the least-sacked quarterbacks in the country. Things seem to be going pretty well!
At least, they were until Saturday.
Georgia Tech’s offensive line continued to perform well in the run game. Of the Yellow Jackets’ 29 rush attempts, 15 were opportunity runs (or rushes that go for at least four yards) and only one rush was completely stuffed for no gain. They achieved a 41% success rate on rushes with just three explosive rush plays. The Clemson defense did not get a tackle for loss against a rushing attempt. It was far from Tech’s best rushing performance, but it was a solid performance against a very good defense.
This is evident of greater success in the rushing game.
Got some updated charts for opponent-adjusted rushing metrics.— Bill Radjewski | CollegeFootballData.com (@CFB_Data) November 13, 2023
Here's the offenses, plotting adjusted line yards against adjusted highlight yards. You want to be in the top right here.
This chart tracks opponent-adjusted line yards vs. highlight yards for rushing. Line yards are the rushing yards that can be attributed to the offensive line. You can see the formula below:
The converse of this is highlight yards, which is the total yards attributed to the rusher.
Anyway, back to the point. Georgia Tech is one of the upper-right-most teams on the chart, which means that the offensive line is getting good push and rushers are gaining more yards after that push. In other words, Georgia Tech’s rushing game is [Steely Dan] good.
The passing game was not so lucky on Saturday. Clemson’s defense had eight havoc plays: four sacks and four interceptions. Because of that, Haynes King had a whopping -0.58 EPA/dropback, which is pretty abysmal considering how good he’s been most of the season.
In addition to the four sacks, King was also hurried (per the play-by-play chart on Georgia Tech’s website) five additional times, resulting in a pressure rate of roughly 29%. Those are the official numbers, but it honestly felt like King faced even more pressure than that. Between spending a lot of time getting chased by defenders and not being able to connect consistently with his top target Eric Singleton, King struggled a lot.
To summarize, Georgia Tech’s offensive line has made some tremendous progress this season and is currently my vote for the most improved unit on the team. However, the unit is still pretty young (especially on the left side), so there is still a lot of improvement to be had there, particularly with the pass blocking. Both Brent Key and Geep Wade have done a good job with the OL so far, and I’m excited to see how that unit continues to develop.