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Georgia Tech Football: Advanced Stats Review - uga

How did Georgia Tech manage to go toe-to-toe with the best team in the country?

NCAA Football: Georgia at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech came much closer than anyone expected to shocking the world Saturday evening, but unfortunately, they fell to the dwags 31-23. The full advanced box score can be found below, but today, we’ll be focusing on how Georgia Tech managed to keep the game so close.

By all accounts, uga should have come into Bobby Dodd Stadium and walloped Brent Key’s Yellow Jackets. Bill C’s post-game win expectancy even has the dwags finishing at 94.4%, which indicates that based on the stats from the game, the Yellow Jackets would have needed nearly virtually every ball to bounce the right way for Tech to win.

So...how did they keep it so close?

UGA had twice as many penalties as Tech (six), and they proved to be pretty costly, resulting in UGA finishing with -3.13 penalty EPA. But did Georgia Tech really capitalize on them?

Q2 5:03 (1st & 10 at GT 36) Kendall Milton run for 36 yds Georgia Penalty, Offensive Holding (-10 Yards) to the GT 40 - uga 14, GT 13 | -0.70 EPA

This holding penalty eliminated a huge gain for Georgia. They did manage to recover from this one, but losing a 30+ yard run like that is a huge blow.

Q2 1:13 (0th & Goal at GT 3) WOODRING, Peyton PAT kick attempt is good, score nullified by penalty. PENALTY Before the snap, UGA False Start on WILLIAMS, Mykel enforced 5 yards from the GT3 to the GT8. NO PLAY (replay the down). - uga 14, GT 13 | -1.09 EPA

This one is a bit miscalculated. It was a holding penalty on the PAT, but for some reason, the ESPN play-by-play negated the touchdown score instead of just the PAT. uga made the PAT on the next play.

Q2 1:13 (2nd & 5 at GT 30) run for 7 yds to the UGA 37 for a 1ST down Georgia Penalty, Face mask (15 yards) (Malaki Starks) to the UGA 48 for a 1ST down - uga 21, GT 13 | 0.93 EPA

This one probably should have bitten uga in the butt more than it did. This facemask penalty put the Yellow Jackets in plus territory as time was running out towards the end of the first half. Unfortunately, Birr missed the field goal going into halftime.

Q3 5:15 (2nd & 10 at GT 36) Georgia Penalty, Personal Foul (Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins) to the UGA 48 for a 1ST down - uga 24, GT 13 | 1.79

Once again, the dwags got off scot-free here. This penalty gave Tech the first down, but they turned the ball over on downs four plays later.

Q4 12:07 (1st & 10 at GT 11) BECK, Carson pass to the left complete for 5 yards to DELP, Oscar caught at the GT11 and advanced to the GT6 (KING, Jaylon). PENALTY UGA Holding on FAIRCHILD, Dylan enforced 10 yards from the GT11 to the GT21 [NHSG]. NO PLAY (replay the down). - uga 31, GT 16 | -0.87
Q4 9:16 (2nd & 15 at GT 16) BECK, Carson pass to the right complete for 16 yards to BELL, Dillon caught at the GT1 and advanced to the GT0, TOUCHDOWN UGA, score nullified by penalty, clock 09:16 (Play was confirmed after review). PENALTY UGA Ineligible Receiver Downfield on Pass on VAN PRAN, Sedrick enforced 5 yards from the GT16 to the GT21 [NHSG]. NO PLAY (replay the down). - uga 31, GT 16 | -0.46

I will do these next two together since they were on the same drive. The first penalty drove uga back 10 yards, giving them more room to work with on the field. A couple plays later, Carson Beck’s touchdown pass to Dillon Bell was called back due to an ineligible receiver downfield. This proved to be the most costly penalty of the day for uga. Two plays later, Beck threw the fateful pick to KJ Wallace in the endzone that allowed Tech to get back in the game.

But still, Tech really only capitalized on one of these turnovers. What else contributed to such a close game?

Sure turnovers played a big part. Both of uga’s turnovers likely prevented touchdowns from being scored. But more importantly than that, I think uga’s defense just didn’t have a lot of answers for Tech’s offense, which is an incredibly wild thing to say.

To illustrate what I mean, let me say this. Georgia Tech’s defense caused more havoc plays than uga’s did. uga failed to cause a turnover (Tech recovered the sole fumble they had). And uga was powerless against Tech’s rushing attack. Yellow Jacket rushers averaged 0.18 EPA/rush without explosive plays (which there was only one of).

That means that Tech did at least half of what I said they needed to do to beat the dwags: run the ball. uga’s defense has not been as good against the run as they have been against the pass this season, and the Yellow Jackets took full advantage of that.

What is even crazier is that Tech did not even have anyone go over 100 yards rushing. Haynes King finished with 41 yards, Dontae Smith finished with 68, and Jamal Haynes finished with 70. But they all finished with positive EPA marks.

The reason that Tech stayed in this game as much as they did is because they (for the most part) did a good job of minimizing mistakes. They came in and played a mostly clean game, and it honestly would have needed to be just about perfect for them to pull this off. Kudos to a great game to all the players and the coaching staff.