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Georgia Tech’s defense, by the numbers: Jurkovec should have opportunities

NCAA Football: Boston College at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

With Boston College heading down to Atlanta with renewed confidence following last Friday’s win at Virginia Tech, the Eagles get set to take on a defense that has been struggling lately in that of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

With BC’s offense potentially showing a blueprint last week for doing enough to win given how great the defense has been — Pat Garwo carrying the load; Jurkovec managing the game effectively, running when he has to, and hitting a few key passes — what are the Eagles’ prospects for success moving the ball against the Georgia Tech defense?

First, let’s take a look at the numbers (please note if you are viewing this chart on AMP or on a mobile device it may not format correctly).

GT Defense

GT Points Allowed Yards Allowed Pass Yds Allowed Rush Yds Allowed
GT Points Allowed Yards Allowed Pass Yds Allowed Rush Yds Allowed
Northern Illinois 22 301 136 165
Clemson 14 284 126 158
UNC 22 369 306 63
Pitt 52 580 399 181
Duke 27 489 292 197
UVA 48 636 396 240
VTech 26 491 237 254
Miami 33 563 389 174
AVG 31 464 285 179
AVG Last 5 37 552 343 209

This chart shows GT’s results against FBS teams (filtering out their game against FCS Kennesaw State).

As you can see, things started off decently enough, allowing under 301 yards and a combined 36 points in the two games against Northern Illinois and Clemson to start their season. Even UNC, which has been on fire as of late, was held to 22 points and 369 yards.

But in the last 5 games, things have gone poorly for GT’s defense, with the team especially vulnerable to giving up big chunks of yards through the air.

In its last 5 games, Georgia Tech has allowed an average of 552 yards per game, including a minimum of 489 (against Duke). We saw the struggles Virginia Tech had on offense, admittedly with their QB1 down against us, and they were able to put up a well balanced attack that got them 491 yards.

From GT’s blog’s review of their game against Miami, it seems like intermediate passes with lots of YAC added up to torch the Jackets last weekend.

Their review of the Virginia game was even more bleak about the pass defense:

GT’s efforts to play man on the outside led to receivers running five yards free. GT’s efforts to play zone in the middle of the field led to countless plays where three GT defenders would play a game of Ring around the Rosie with a UVA target comfortably open in the middle of them. If they’re being coached to play this way, coaches should move on. If they’re playing this far outside of the technique and scheme being taught, they shouldn't be playing. Nothing about the status quo of Georgia Tech’s pass defense can be allowed to continue. I would much rather see freshmen giving up these kinds of performances than the same guys over and over again.

This has been a trend with Georgia Tech as last year they were 14th out of 15 in scoring defense among ACC teams, their second straight year near the basement that looks to be heading to a third.

Much like BC, Georgia Tech struggles to put pressure on the quarterback, with GT a smidge ahead of BC near the bottom of the ACC sacks leaderboard, with 16 sacks to BC’s 12.

But unlike BC, Georgia Tech hasn’t forced turnovers or tightened up in the red zone. The Jackets have allowed 22 touchdowns in 37 opponent trips to the red zone this year.

Long story short this week is that Phil Jurkovec and his suite of receivers should be able to find time and space to be successful this weekend. If Jurk is even a few ticks ahead of where he was healthwise and rhythm-wise against a VT defense that has been much more stout than Georgia Tech’s, he should be able to find his guys and put up points.

The big question is whether BC chooses to remain run-heavy like they were against VT, or if they decide to test Georgia Tech’s shaky pass defense early and often. Either way, BC should have a few different paths to victory, so long as the Eagles’ defense keeps playing at a high level against a pretty good GT offense.