Tech defense by the numbers

Georgia Tech’s statistics from the first six games compared to the final eight games. A few words of comment below.


431.0                     331.3


163.3, 4.5             129.9, 4.1


267.7, 7.2             201.4, 7.2


128.3                     132.0


5.8                          5.6


30.2                        26.9


2.26                        2.24


47.8                        34.1


4.5                          5.2


1.7                          2.3


1.8                          1.8

BIG PLAYS (20-plus yards from scrimmage) PER GAME

4.8                          3.4


11.8                        3.9

It’s interesting how similar some of the numbers are. For a story I wrote prior to the Sun Bowl, I noted that the yards-per-play stats were virtually identical (5.84 when Al Groh was defensive coordinator and 5.85 after the hire of Charles Kelly as interim).

In this chart, points per possession (which, arguably, is the most informative statistic about a team’s efficiency) is almost the same and yards per play is close.

But, a couple numbers jump out for their difference, fourth-quarter scoring and third-down efficiency. Tech’s inability to get off the field led to a lot of the Jackets’ problems in the first six games and ultimately played not a small role in Groh’s dismissal.

By getting off the field, Tech was more able to enforce its pace of play. Opponents ran 73.8 plays per game in the first six games, 59.6 in the final eight, a fairly staggering difference. Opponents averaged 13.3 possessions in Groh-coached games and 12.0 in games coached by Kelly. It isn’t much, but 1.3 extra possessions at 2.24 points per possession is three points a game.

Further, you could make a strong case that the second half of the schedule (4/7 if we’re going to be precise) was tougher.

Total-offense rank* of first six opponents, in order, not including Presbyterian: 82, 65, 37, 67, 8. (Presbyterian finished 110th in FCS. Yikes.)

Last eight opponents, in order: 99, 61, 120, 15, 56, 27, 22, 30.

That’s the second and third worst, but also four of the top five.

* Rankings through games of Dec. 29

All that said, and I realize I’m not the first to say this, but I think the defense passed the eyeball test more than anything, particularly in the final two games. The tackling was better, the play faster. We’ll never know what USC would have done with Matt Barkley at quarterback and without 30-mph winds. But we do know that Tech held an offense averaging 155 rushing yards per game to 98 rushing yards and fewer points and yards than it produced against Notre Dame with Max Wittek at quarterback.

There is no getting around that the BYU and Georgia (and North Carolina) games took place under Kelly’s watch, but the way the Jackets played in the final six quarters of the season was vastly better than how they played earlier in the season. For that, Kelly and his staff deserve credit.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

203 comments Add your comment

GT Lee

January 3rd, 2013
6:43 pm

Nice work, Ken.

Full Metal Jacket

January 3rd, 2013
6:46 pm

Time to hire Charles Kelly as DC.


January 3rd, 2013
6:46 pm

Ken, you’re working too hard. Thanks.

Full Metal Jacket

January 3rd, 2013
6:48 pm

Thanks for the stats breakdown, Ken. Have you heard ANYTHING about the DC search or process. I think CPJ must be considering Kelly, hence his delay in making a hire, and the Sun Bowl performance wouldn’t have changed that.

Relieved Fan

January 3rd, 2013
6:49 pm

I think kelly deserves a shot at defensive coordinator next year. In the byu game, the defense gave up a lot of points but it also gave back some points with that pick 6. A lot of the scoring also was due to the poor play selection by paul on offense. The defense did not play very good in the first half of the unc game, but in the second half they only gave up 7 points on one play and played lights out the rest of the game. A lot of the scoring in the first half can also be attributed to the high rate at which the tech offense was scoring which gave the defense less time to rest. The uga game was a lot closer than the score showed and was probably the worst the defense played under kelly, but lets not forget that same uga offense put up 30+ against alabamas greate defense. If the offense had finished off a few more drives than the game mightve gone differently.

Kelly was a part of Groh's staff...

January 3rd, 2013
6:53 pm

I can’t for the life of me understand why people act as if Kelly had no part of the bad defense in the first half of the year. Wasn’t he a defensive coach the past 7 or so season at GT? The last 6 quarters were good. But then again so were the first 11 of the year under Groh. The fact is, the defense was not significantly better under Kelly than it was under Groh. And why would it be? It’s the same staff. Kelly has now been on two failed coaching staffs at GT. Let’s not make it a third. Gut the entire defensive staff.

Jacket Man

January 3rd, 2013
6:58 pm

Let’s take these numbers a few steps further and see how far Tech progressed Nationally since Kelly took over:

Through Six Games December 2nd

Scoring Defense 83rd (30.2) 77th (29.9) 28.3
Rushing Defense 68th (163.3) 46th (147.7) 144.2
Passing Defense 98th (267.7) 68th (239.2) 229.8
Total Defense 89th (431.0) 52nd (387.0) 374.0
Sacks 78th (1.67) 50th (2.15) 2.0

*Final national rankings released after BCS national championship

You can see significant improvements in every category…

Supersize that order, mutt

January 3rd, 2013
7:03 pm

I don’t know that I am ready to say that Kelly should be DC; let’s wait and consider ALL the points that Ken made, and actually also what was just posted at 6:53. Don’t just jump on the first available option, no matter how good it might look TEMPORARILY. I definitely think Kelly should receive consideration, and, no matter what, I would like to see him remain in some position on the coaching staff; he certainly deserves that.

Augusta Jacket

January 3rd, 2013
7:18 pm

I am leary of anointing Kelly as DC simply because of a good bowl game (windy, backup QB) and the second half against FSU (did any one else watch them underwhelm in the OB?). Would prefer to see us go after a known commodity but the reality is we can afford Kelly.

Augusta Jacket

January 3rd, 2013
7:19 pm

What we need is a lights out recruiter for DC.

Supersize that order, mutt

January 3rd, 2013
7:25 pm

Hey there, Augusta Jacket. I agree with you

Augusta Jacket

January 3rd, 2013
7:28 pm

How was the bowl game SS? I am sure you enjoyed it, balmy weather and all. :)

Supersize that order, mutt

January 3rd, 2013
7:30 pm

balmy, right….LOL I nearly froze my tail off at the game. My body was literally shaking. And I had on what I thought was pretty warm clothes. Anyway, the game was great, and the trip was equally great. Really glad I went.

Augusta Jacket

January 3rd, 2013
7:35 pm

LOL. Glad you enjoyed it. Wish I could have been there.


January 3rd, 2013
7:36 pm

It’s hard to say from afar. I know that I intently watch every game, most from the stands home and away. I watch most of the replays. I read most of the articles and listen to/hear those so called experts. Personally, I look for speed to the ball and pressure up front. Tackling is a given, but intensity before and after plays especially on the sideline or lack thereof always catches my eye.
If we can call it the Kelly defense, then clearly his defense did all the little things better and more consistently than did any of the Womack or Groh defenses. However, there was still the absolute beat down in Athens. And again the 1st half against FSU. To me, that exemplifies much of the exact same sporadic effort we’ve seen by GT defenses since O’Leary ran the D under Ross.
There are thousands of comparisons, but I’ll give just one, Clemson. Kevin Steele versus Brent Venables. I’d like to see that comparison by the numbers. So if there are any Tech alum with a few extra million sitting around to spend, get Tech a Brent Venables, because we have gotten what we have paid for at Tech and we haven’t paid much.

Augusta Jacket

January 3rd, 2013
7:40 pm

@gtkenz: Thats exactly what I think the problem has been.. We aren’t willing/able to spend for a proven DC so we keep hoping to find a diamond in the rough.


January 3rd, 2013
7:41 pm

When you are an assistant you may provide advice but you do what the boss wants you to do. When you are in charge, you do it your way.

Ho hum

January 3rd, 2013
7:41 pm

Tek better look beyond Kelly. Augusta nails it – you need a recruiter more than anything else. Something else to consider some teams don’t fear tek and therefore take them lightly (FSU & USC come to mind) and therefore Tek appears to be better than reality. USC didn’t want to play Tek or play in the Sun Bowl and the results were obvious.

Tek needs PLAYERS on both sides of the ball – especially on defense. Groh was given chicken poop and told to make chicken salad – nuf said.

Augusta Jacket

January 3rd, 2013
7:47 pm

@Ho hum: Tech does need players but Grohs failings I lay directly at scheme. The 3-4 was never a good idea.


January 3rd, 2013
7:58 pm

@Ho Hum: So you’re saying the only reason we kept it close against FSU and beat USC was because they didn’t want to play us? Out of curiosity, what mental illnesses do you have?


January 3rd, 2013
7:59 pm

Exactly Augusta. We may need some better players, but the 3-4 was a terrible idea. There is a reason that few teams in the FBS run the 3-4, and it’s because the athletes required on the D-Line (300+ pound 6′3″+ strong D-Linemen), and in the linebacking corps (have to be supremely athletic and great pass rushers) are some that very few schools can recruit consistently (teams like UGA, and Bama come to mind). Oh, and Ho hum, say what you will, but you can’t take away what GT did against USC and FSU.


January 3rd, 2013
8:05 pm

Man I wish people would shut up with the 3-4 4-3 talk, it doesn”t matter that much good defense is good defense no matter the scheme. Notre Dame & Stanford both run 3-4 for the same reason’s Tech run it. It’s easier to recruit linebackers than D-Linemen and that hasn’t changed.

Tech was bigger at the line than Stanford & Notre Dame matter of fact and they have top 5 Defenses. It’s coaching coaching coaching, Kelly did well with the limited time he had available, he deserves to be considered.

CPJ spoke to 790 the Zone and stated he will be interviewing 3 to 4 people for the position including Kelly.

Buford T. Pusser

January 3rd, 2013
8:12 pm

This is not going to be a popular comment but the reason our D is so bad is because of the caliber of atheletes on that side of the ball. Unlike the O which gives you a schematic advantage even with lesser athletes; not the case on the defensive side.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the UGA game, they manhandled Tech on both sides of the ball and the difference in talent level was apparent to anyone paying attention.

Hence, I agree with what others have said, keep Kelly on staff but hire a DC who has a proven track record as a recruiter in the state of GA and in the Southeast. The only way we are going to get better is improve the level of athletes on both sides of the ball but it is much more important for the D.


January 3rd, 2013
8:15 pm

I stand corrected Stanford is not a Top 15 as the 14th ranked defense In total Defense.
Notre Dame
Boise St.
Florida St.
Utah St.
Bowling Green
Michigan St.

4 Teams in the Top 10 have 3-4 Defenses including the TOP 3 !!!!
1 runs a 5-2-5 (Bowling Green)

1 4 GT

January 3rd, 2013
8:18 pm

I have thought CKelly deserved a serious look & hard thoughts by CPJ and a chance to have a serious interview for the job of DC since the end of the UNC game. Did he turn the defense around? Not completely. Has the defense played better. I say yes! For the poster going by the name “KELLY WAS A PART OF GROH’s STAFF…..” (caps so he might notice it and read). You must remember who was the boss when you ask that question? Groh was the boss. He made the defensive calls much as CPJ made the offensive calls. Groh installed his scheme. Groh had them coached the way he wanted. How long would you last at your job if you went against your boss and his/her “system”. Assuming you are not at the top of the heap. There has been marked improvement from game to game, excluding the Georgie game. The quickness of Tech getting down by 3 or 4 scores (among other things) took the starch right out of Tech, which I perfectly understand. In each game after the half, the GT defense played better, even in the Georgie game. Good adjustments were made during the halftime break. In round numbers UNC had outscored opponents by 150 to 50 in the second half. Tech held them to 7 points. Tech shutout FSU in the second half. They were fired up and ready to play in the Sun Bowl. They played hard the entire USC game. They like Coach Kelly. He has them believing they are capable of playing with anyone. When have we seen the enthusiasm from the sideline that we saw for the Sun Bowl. They made plays. They made tackles. They batted down 8 (I believe that is the number I saw in a blog) passes at the LOS. They had 3 INT’s. They pressured the QB. All of Wittek’s play was not because of his youth & inexperience. I could go on. Yes, Coach Kelly has earned serious consideration and I think wants the job of DC for CPJ & GT! It will be OK with me if he gets the job. FWIW!

GT Lee

January 3rd, 2013
8:31 pm

Speaking of defensive coaching staffs, this is interesting…..

1 4 GT

January 3rd, 2013
8:32 pm

For those that don’t like option football and don’t think it is exciting, tune into ESPN and watch KSU & Oregon. The game is close to KO. Tech & CPJ runs the TOption about 20-30% of the time. With a better passing attack, I can see us looking more like these two in the future. We are also watching the NFL metaphorize into a limited option offensive system.

Paul in NH

January 3rd, 2013
8:41 pm

5-2-5 is a very difficult defense to score against. I loved GT’s 5-3-5 that they used at the end of the first half against UGA back in 1985.


January 3rd, 2013
8:47 pm

bring tenuta back


January 3rd, 2013
8:50 pm

I don’t think it was a coincidence that the USC QB Wennick (sp?) had a bad day – it looked like we had people in the right position to make plays the vast majority of the time. That was by far the biggest problem I think Groh had – the schemes were too complicated for college. How many times did you see 2 or 3 of our LB’s/ DB’s looking lost in the same coverage area with no receiver within 20 yards under Groh? Groh’s system was OK in the pros when you had players with college experience that could spend 12 months a year learning the system, but it was not suited to the college level.

With respect to recruiting, it seems like Kelly has been one of our most active recruiters – I definitely would not want to lose him. The players also like and respond well to him. I say give him a short contract as DC and see how he does.


January 3rd, 2013
8:51 pm

I’m not familiar with the 5-2-5 defense. If I recall Charlie Strong used to coach a 3-3-5 when he was with USC.

No matter who is hired I would love for CPJ to use his relationship with Mike Smith and have the new D coordinator pick Mike Nolans brain on disguising coverages and being multiple.


January 3rd, 2013
8:54 pm

I am no football guru but a 5-2-5 or 5-3-5 does seem like it would be effective if you can field 12 or 13 players on defense????

1 4 GT

January 3rd, 2013
8:54 pm

I don’t think anyone knows the 5-2-5 defense! Not even the coaches!


January 3rd, 2013
8:55 pm


January 3rd, 2013
8:56 pm

sorry – I misread ignition’s post , a 3-3-5 is OK , but a 5-2-5 stills adds up to 12?


January 3rd, 2013
8:58 pm

USC could probably have got away with a 5-2-5 wih the Sun bowl refs


January 3rd, 2013
9:10 pm

I’m also excited about next season, but I am still concerned about the Defensive line. I do not think we can continue to run the 3-4 with our personnel. You have to have a big and deep D line to run this. I don’t think we have either. If we are not willing to pay much for a DC then I would give Kelly the job vs getting a “hopeful”. If we are willing to pay then we need a DC that can coach and definitely recruit.


January 3rd, 2013
9:16 pm

Do people actually look at the roster before they post.

dry dirt road

January 3rd, 2013
9:18 pm

I would’nt let CPJ hire a DC. He proved he could’nt hire one when he hired Groh. And there’s no AD to hire one, so Kelly should stay on. I’m just wondering how the old timers from the ‘71-2 D such as tackle Perdoni, tackle Brad Bourne, db Jeff Ford and linebacker Bill Flowers would do at DC. Those guys were good, and so were their coaches Jerry Glanville and Maxie Baughn.

George Stein

January 3rd, 2013
9:19 pm

Tenuta took a position at UVA, technut.

I am pleased that the tackling improved over the last two games, but I don’t know whether it warrants the position. The issue is made difficult because of games like Carolina where we were gashed in the first half but shut them down in the second half. UGA had a special team this year, so I don’t really read much into that game – they were clearly better and deserved to win.

I wish I had a better idea what to do, but I don’t. Johnson needs to get it right this time, though.


January 3rd, 2013
9:28 pm

I think CKelly did a nice job tweeking the 3-4 because thats all you can do in the middle of the season.

I also hope CPJ has seen enough of the 3-4 at GT and will bring in a DC who runs an aggressive 4-3.
Also curious what defense CKelly ran when he was the DC at the Nichols and others??? We have the personal to make the change during the spring to a 4-3.

Shame Tenuta left, just hired as DC at UVA.


January 3rd, 2013
9:29 pm

too funny,,tech will never look like ore or ksu..pj doesnt run that offense. plus he cant land those type of recruits. also it would require pj to have a offensive play sheet in his hand while stomping around the sideline. we all know he doesnt like to handle a play sheet.


January 3rd, 2013
9:30 pm

Guys, you can not base this hire off the last two games! The D did play better but im still not sure kelly is the guy. We need someone who can recruit alot better than kelly.


January 3rd, 2013
9:31 pm

all about players fellas..and you guys dont have enough on either side of the ball to scare anyone. hope you like winning 7 to 8 games a year with pj at the helm.

Supersize that order, mutt

January 3rd, 2013
9:45 pm

@ altxman……apparently the mutts don’t scare South Carolina or Bama or LSU either, since you are o-fer against them over the past 5 years. But keep feeding your ego with wins over Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Coastal Carolina, Ga Southern, Kentucky, Miss State, and Vandy (and that’s probably coming to an end next year).

Supersize that order, mutt

January 3rd, 2013
9:47 pm

I really can’t believe anybody in their right mind would want Tenuta back. The guy is a total a-hole. Sure he had some good defenses at Tech—–FOR ABOUT HALF THE GAMES. Do y’all not remember how he couldn’t defense UVA under Groh, of all people??? And we never beat UGA while he was the DC. I could go on.

Augusta Jacket

January 3rd, 2013
9:54 pm

Whether we elevate Kelly or hire a new DC, there is one staff position to fill. Whoever that is needs to be able to recruit the southeast, particularly GA and FL.


January 3rd, 2013
9:59 pm

Kelly is a young coach who is hungry for the opportunity. Also, he is already deeply involved in recruiting and knows the landscape. People point to the poor play of the secondary earlier in the season. How do you explain the improved play of the secondary after Kelly became DC? Maybe we should hire whoever took over as position coach for Kelly.

Anyhow, Kelly has my endorsement but I trust Coach Johnson will do what is best for the team.


January 3rd, 2013
10:10 pm

I happen to like 3-4 defenses and I feel it’s the perfect scheme for Tech which has a history of having trouble recruiting D-Line players even when O’Leary was coach. (One of his big complaints)

Tech hasn’t even played their D-Line recruits for the 3-4. (most were redshirted)
Plus we don’t have any players for a 4-3
94 Izaan Cross DE 6-4 300 SR Flowery Branch, Ga. Flowery Branch HS
41 Roderick Chungong DE 6-3 246 FR Silver Spring, Md. Good Counsel
91 Patrick Gamble DE 6-5 262 FR Carrollton, Ga. Central Carroll
93 Emmanuel Dieke DE 6-6 270 RS JR Riverdale, Ga. North Clayton HS
99 Euclid Cummings DE 6-4 275 RS JR Atlanta, Ga. Centennial HS
61 Adrian Gardner DE 6-2 260 RS FR Dawson, Ga. Terrell County HS
95 Christopher Crenshaw DE 6-3 256 RS JR Louisville, Ga. Jefferson County HS
92 Francis Kallon DE 6-5 289 FR Lawrenceville, Ga. Central Gwinnett
98 Jimmie Kitchen DE 6-3 270 RS FR Lithonia, Ga. Lithonia HS
56 Anthony Williams DE 6-4 264 RS SO McDonough, Ga. Union Grove
96 Adam Gotsis DL 6-5 300 FR Abbotsford, Victoria (AUS) Kew
97 Shawn Green DL 6-0 280 RS SO Grayson, Ga. Grayson
67 Ben Keith DT 6-1 269 RS JR Gainesville, Fla. Buchholz
90 T.J. Barnes DT 6-7 345 RS SR Enterprise, Ala. Enterprise HS

versus the amount of linebackers recruited
62 Ryan Sparlin LB 6-0 238 RS SO Kennesaw, Ga. Harrison
11 Brandon Watts LB 6-2 238 RS JR Tennille, Ga. Washington County HS
31A Joshua Rogers LB 5-9 202 RS SO Canton, Ga. Sequoya
39 Chaz Cheeks LB 6-4 232 RS FR Gainesville, Ga. East Hall HS
32 Jabari Hunt-Days LB 6-3 252 RS FR Marietta, Ga. Hillgrove HS
59 Beau Hankins LB 6-1 228 FR Birmingham, Ala. Jackson-Olin
43 Kyle Travis LB 6-3 240 SO Cumming, Ga. South Forsyth HS
65 Corey Alford LB 5-11 223 RS JR Conyers, Ga. Heritage
47 Tyler Stargel LB 6-3 237 FR Orange Beach, Ala. Gulf Shores
45 Jeremiah Attaochu LB 6-3 240 JR Washington, D.C. Archbishop Carroll
46 Tremayne McNair LB 6-2 230 SO Jacksonville, N.C. White Oak HS
57A Blake Hembree LB 6-0 205 RS FR Canton, Ga. The King’s Academy
48 Nick Menocal LB 6-3 238 SO Miami, Fla. Belen Jesuit Prep School
66 Matt Serpico LB 6-4 228 RS FR Fayetteville, Ga. Whitewater
35 Tyler Marcordes LB 6-4 235 RS FR Normal, Ill. Normal Community West HS
30 Daniel Drummond LB 6-3 245 RS JR Flowery Branch, Ga. Flowery Branch HS
54 Quayshawn Nealy LB 6-1 232 RS SO Lakeland, Fla. Lakeland
51 Anthony Harrell LB 6-2 235 RS FR Tampa, Fla. Jesuit HS
53A Rusty Scott LB 6-3 215 RS FR Lincolnton, Ga. Lincoln County

14 D-Lineman
19 Linebackers


January 3rd, 2013
10:14 pm

we don’t have enough d lineman for a 4-3.