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Georgia Tech Football: Advanced Stats Review - Louisville

The defense was every bit as bad as you probably thought it was.

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

Ed. Note: Since Robert and Akshay are both taking some much-needed time away from Georgia Tech Football, I’ll be taking these over for the time being. I will not claim to have the expertise that either of them have, but I’ll do my best to share my thoughts from the data I have courtesy of Game On Paper.

Ed. Note 2: Something kind of wonky happened with the ESPN play-by-play data, so the in-game data is not available, so I will just be using the Team Overview pages for Georgia Tech and Louisville to synthesize a few takeaways.

Ed. Note 3: For those who might be new to advanced stats, I linked to previous definitions of what different numbers mean.

Georgia Tech lost its season opener Friday night to Louisville by a final score of 39-34. Although Georgia Tech had a strong showing in the second quarter, scoring 28 unanswered, the game ended up being quite disappointing between missed tackles and just boneheaded errors.

When Georgia Tech had the ball

Data courtesy of

Looking at the offense holistically, this seems like a pretty solid start to the season, especially on the rushing side of things. The starting field position is obviously wrong, but everything else seems at least average (or better!). There is a lot of room to get better, but Tech didn’t stink up the joint.

It’s worth noting that despite being just one game into the season, Tech is performing MILES better than the offense did on average last season. For starters, they have a positive EPA/play, instead of the -0.11 EPA/play they had last season. Tech was also 119th in success rate last season at 36.3%. Still a long way to go, but it’s a solid start!

Tech’s rushing offense

Data courtesy of

What surprised me most here is Jamal Haynes’ line. From my memory of the game, he was a bright spot in both receiving (more on that in a minute) and rushing. Nearly 5 yards per rush isn’t a bad performance, but having less than a third of your runs be successful is definitely not a great stat. In the same vein, it’s also interesting that Dontae Smith had a decent success rate despite not having overall great rushing numbers.

My biggest takeaway here is that Haynes King is good on his feet and can mostly do what he needs to if there are no passing lanes open. Given the QBs Tech has had the last couple years, this seems about right. Jeff Sims, Zach Pyron, and Taisun Phommachanh all had positive EPA/play and success rates near 50% while rushing last season. We won’t talk about Zach Gibson here.

Overall, Georgia Tech rushed the ball pretty well, and Haynes King was a big part of that. As far as running backs go, I think Trey Cooley and Jamal Haynes will definitely be the first two off the bench, but Dontae should continue to see some time.

Tech’s passing offense

Data courtesy of
Data courtesy of

Haynes King had a mostly solid debut for Georgia Tech. He had a positive EPA and a success rate of 42%, which is more than any of Tech’s quarterbacks last season can say (at least over the course of the season). It’s also worth noting that King pushed the ball downfield more than Tech did last season. Zach Pyron led Tech QBs in yards/dropback last season with 5.47. If King can keep that number up around 7-8, Tech will have a very fun passing offense.

It’s tough to take much away from the receiving numbers right now since there are so few targets and receptions, but Malik Rutherford and Jamal Haynes having strong catch rates will hopefully continue. Chase Lane and Eric Singleton also provided some explosive plays for Tech’s offense.

When Louisville had the ball

Data courtesy of

Eesh. I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you this, but when you rank 97th or lower in every statistical category aside from plays/game, your defense is pretty bad. One thing that negatively impacted Georgia Tech’s ability to stop Louisville’s offense was a complete and utter lack of disruptive plays. Georgia Tech finished the game with 0 sacks and 0 tackles for loss. Yeah, that’s not great.

Tech’s rushing defense

Data courtesy of

What was a strength of last year’s defense turned sour. I think what frustrates me the most is how well Jack Plummer was able to run, not that he was forced to run very often. Jack Plummer is not generally a running quarterback, and there were times Georgia Tech was just unable to do anything to stop him.

I thought Trenilyas Tatum and Paul Moala played well, but it’s obviously a far cry from the linebacker duo of Charlie Thomas and Ace Eley. It also seems like they didn’t get much help from the defensive line.

Tech’s passing defense

Data courtesy of
Data courtesy of

I thought I was going to throw something on the TV on Friday night as often as I heard Jamari Thrash’s name get called. It seemed like every time Louisville made a big play, Thrash was on one end of it. His 1.14 EPA/play is higher than any receiver (on either team) had last year. Granted, it’s one game, but still. Thrash thrashed (pun fully intended) Tech’s defense.

What did not help matters was Tech’s absolute lack of havoc creation. Georgia Tech was barely able to put pressure on Jack Plummer. They played soft coverage most of the night and forced just one turnover that was almost meaningless. It came with about 5 seconds left in the first half, so Tech trotted Gavin Stewart out to kick a 54-yard field goal, and he was well short of it.

It’s incredibly damning that this was the performance of a mostly upper-class defense. Every starter on the defensive line and at linebacker are juniors and seniors.


  1. The offense had a good start to the season, but it needs to find some level of consistency. Tech did a lot well in the second quarter of the game, but very little well outside of that.
  2. The defense needs to figure out how to tackle opposing players. Georgia Tech allowed a success rate of 49.2%. That currently ranks 112th in the entire country. I would personally attribute a lot of that to the sheer number of missed tackles.
  3. The rest of that success rate is attributed to how little havoc was created by Georgia Tech’s defense. I don’t have the number here in front of me, but I would bet good money that it’s close to 0. I know it isn’t exactly 0 since they did manage to get an interception, but it’s not great.