2021’s Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Redux

I published this article without consulting Reed. I emailed him around 9:00 this morning and got on with my day. I can not figure out if Reed has something scheduled. It is now around 1:50 pm so I am taking a leap of faith.

Pitt is coming off a 77 – 7 victory over a team in Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), the New Hampshire Wildcats. This win ends Pitt’s Out of Conference (OOC) season at 3 – 1, (0 – 0 ACC, 3-1 OOC). Up next is Georgia Tech and the start of conference play.

The Georgia Tech (GT) Yellow Jackets are coming off a stunning 45 – 22 win over then #21 ranked North Carolina (NC). GT is now 2 – 2 (1-1 ACC, 1-1 OOC).

There was slight disgruntlement with head coach Geoff Collins after the Northern Illinois game. That restlessness disappeared after the NC win.

NC was the preseason favorite to win the ACC Costal Division. This win was preceded by a close 8 – 14 loss to then perceived preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Division, the ACC and make a run in the College Football Playoff – Clemson. Both are now 2 – 2. The Atlantic, the Coastal and the ACC is up for grabs.

From the ACC website, the standings:

All schools but North Carolina have played their FCS opponent. The ACC is 12 – 1 in these contests. Florida State has the honor of losing 17 – 20 to Jacksonville State.

The only addition to my preseason review is in the transfer portal (TP). GT picked up a QB transfer from Temple and lost a player to the TP early in fall camp. The QB did have at least one snap during the Northern Illinois loss (one run for one yard).

Here is a comparison of NCAA stats. Compare and differ.

To answer a reader’s question – The NCAA punting average is the total of the average for each game played. Christodoulou has averaged 44.5, 40.7, 37.3, and 47.0. Add them all together and you have the NCAA number.

On to the individual stats, starting with QB comparisons. GT loss starting QB Jeff Sims to injury in the first quarter of the Northern Illinois loss. He replaced temporary starter Jordan Yates during the NC win. His running and passing was instrumental in the win over NC.

I wonder if Jared Wayne is the all time passing efficiency leader at Pitt. He did surpass Aaron Matthew’s 2019  mark of 455.2 for being 1/1 for 3 yards and a TD against Central Florida.

GT would probably be 4 – 0 if Sims wasn’t injured in the Northern Illinois game. He adds a running threat to a rather below mediocre passing game. (At least compared to his 2020 stats). But then again he was a true freshmen in 2020. And as Pitt fans like to say, all opponent teams and players get better but Pitt and Pitt players never do. But he didn’t play against Northern Illinois. That is football. Stars get hurt.

What about the running backs and receivers?

A comparison of GT and Pitt.

Gibbs and Mason make a potent running attack. It looks like GT does not use a TE in their passing attack.

Some defensive individual stats. From ESPN team stats and compared to NCAA statistics for accuracy. The below is still to long for my taste. Any suggestions on cutting the length? Pitt has 36 players and GT has 31 players who made at least one type of defensive stat. I cut the list to the top 15 in total tackles.

On a per game basis, Pitt is ranked #5 with their 16 sacks for 132 yards. GT is #41 with 11 sacks for 68 yards. GT had 3 sacks against Kennesaw State and 8 against NC. They did not have any against Northern Illinois or Clemson.

In Tackles for Loss (TFL), Pitt is ranked #22 with a total of 30 for 161 yards. GT is #54 with 26 for 122 yards. (Note: sacks are included in TFL’s.)

I can not find data on individual offensive line (Oline) play. But a sign of their unit play are sacks allowed and TFL’s allowed.

Pitt is ranked #47 with 7 sacks allowed for 50 yards. GT is #103 at 12 sacks for 103 yards.

In TFL’s, Pitt is #88 allowing 25 for 87 yards. GT is # allowing a total of 22 for 118 yards.

You may be wondering why I color coded different names and stats. Those names in pink are transfers.

Those names in yellow (QB data) are against FCS teams. Yes, playing an FCS team can skew stats. It happened to Pitt but also happened to GT. Check out how Pickett’s and Yates NCAA passing efficiency rankings jumped after playing an FCS team.

I believe only 13 FBS teams (out of 130), who for various reasons, did not schedule an FCS opponent. To single out Pitt and say stats are skewed and should be discounted is the height of cherry picking. Especially if you then compare your adjusted stats against any of the 117 teams that did play an FCS team. All FBS teams did not blow out their FCS opponent. Some lost (looking at you Florida State) but they had a chance. If they did not take it, shame on them. You can not single out Pitt for doing what they were supposes to do.

Pitt wins 34 – 28.


Pitt vs Georgia Tech, Oct 2 @ Noon

Pitt’s 2021 Opponent Series By Rich Hefner (Rich in SC)

Ed: Rich wrote this piece about the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets (GT) some time ago but it is always good to have detailed info on an opponent just before the game. Here are some updates based on our first four games.

As we well know on here so far our Panthers have beaten, rather badly about the head and shoulders, two much lower level teams in the Independent UMass (51-7) and just last Saturday “non-major” New Hampshire (77-7). That 128-14 scoring in our favor is absolutely not an indicator of what our Panther team is all about for this season.

Interspersed with those two games was a win, 41-34, over SEC’s Tennessee – a school which holds two losses to the P-5 teams they faced; 41-34 to us and a 24 point, 38-14 loss to Florida. But they also handled a MAC school and a “non-major’ school winning both of those. Again – I’m just not sure where Pitt stands in terms or team strength’s and weaknesses based on our body of work so far.

Color me unimpressed with Tennessee at this point in the season and while a win is a win the truer guage of what sort of Panther team we’ll see here on out starts with Georgia Tech.

Here is GT’s ESPN website and this is the current state of GT’s offensive stats. I’ll put out a GT Game Thread with more links to GT program’s information on Saturday morning… GT has beaten a #21 North Carolina by the score of 45-22. That is a 23 point win and rather impressive. They also put in a great effort against #6 Clemson but lost by only six points; 14-8. Granted Clemson isn’t the same team it was with Trevor Lawrence behind Center but those two games show me this GT is pretty darn good so far. Their other loss was to Northern Illinois 22-21.

Here are the Yellowjackets’ national rankings in categories:

Here is Rich’s previous GT article slightly edited:

I (Rich) will be using Rivals recruiting ranking data but 24/7 TP activity. If you want a quick update on the transfer portal, this is the link to the POV TP article I wrote.

 The Transfer Portal; (Recruiting Part 2) (pittpov.com)

Here is my POV article on 2021 recruiting.

College FB 2021 Recruiting – Part 1 (pittpov.com)

I am going to start with Georgia Tech’s (GT) and Pitt’s 2021 schedules.

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Georgia Tech is in the running for this years ACC most favorite ACC schedule. They get a bye in week seven (the mid-season Saturday). Six games before the bye and six after… winnable games both before and after the bye. They are also the only ACC team that does not play on a non-Saturday. Though they do have a hard finish of the season with Notre Dame and Georgia in the last two weeks. GT fans are hoping they are not stuck at five wins going into the last two games, or they will be relying on APR to receive a bowl bid. Like Pitt, they also will face Clemson.

I do not know if I will show the following chart for every Pitt opponent, but I thought it was interesting. As you know, 2019 was Geoff Collins first year as head coach for GT. He went 3 – 9 (including a loss to The Citadel). Did his offense change in 2020? Defense in 2020? You bet both did. Offense for the better but defense regressed.

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There is some interesting data in that mass of numbers. GT passed more in 2020 vs. 2019. But not as much as I thought they did. All around defense regressed from 2019, Mainly in pass defense. Maybe it was just due to a 10 game ACC schedule and UCF as the lone OOC opponent. Maybe it was that GT was one of four ACC that played both ND and Clemson (BC, Pitt and Syracuse were the other three.)

On to recruiting. How is the HC change working out? The last five years of recruiting even though there may be 2016 and 2015 recruits playing this year.

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Overall a step-up in recruiting compared to triple option Paul Johnson. He moved the needle from an average 3* 5.5 recruit to a 3* 5.6 recruit per NNR. As we will see later and as I wrote in the TP article, Collins is going for immediate help with some longevity by using the TP as a recruiting tool. One thing in the breakdown of recruits by position, GT is still trying to beef up their offensive line. Sound familiar?

Any true “stars” on their roster last year? They had three named to the 2020 All ACC team. To expand the potential list of “stars”, I added the GT players that were named to the 2020 preseason All ACC teams by either Athlon, PFF or returning 2019 All ACC selections.

Harvin (the punter) is going pro. Gibbs is good. He made the All ACC team as punt/kick returner. I thought he would make it as an all-purpose back, but such is life.  Mason was a 2019 third team all ACC selection as a running back but was injured most of the 2020 season. I do not know much about the rest but the defensive backs’ did not do themselves proud in 2020.

Any transfer portal entries? Yes.

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Eight TP entries. Only one “Grad” transfer. Picked up a placekicker from the fire sale going on at Tennessee as GT kickers stunk. The best pickup may be Keion White from Old Dominion. He was unranked by Rivals in 2017. Old Dominion was one of three FBS teams that opted out of the 2020 season. During the 2019 season, White had 19 tackles for loss.

One of the things that 24/7 does is re-rank players in the transfer portal based on their college careers. Kind of makes sense as players are now competing against peers. In a way, it is unfair if a recent recruit did not play much at his old school due to age (2019, 2020 classes). BTW here is a link to 24/7 on their explanation of ratings. White has pro potential with a 3* 0.8800 rating.

247Sports Rating Explanation

One of the things I learned in digging into the TP was it pays to be in a recruiting hotspot. Florida State, Miami and Georgia Tech has a majority of their TP entrees from their home state.

Another new face for GT in 2021 is a transfer offensive lineman from 2020.

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He opted out of the 2020 season but is back in the game. He started 32 games for Vanderbilt.

That is all for new faces. Did GT lose anyone? It is hard to tell if anyone is not returning. Outside of the punter, no one was an early entry to the NFL draft. GT did lose some to the TP.

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A total of 16 players have entered the portal. That ties GT with North Carolina for most roster turnover in the ACC. The concerning thing to me is the three recruits from 2019 and two from the 2020 class. That does not look good for Collins recruiting prowess. Here is the link to GT’s 24/7 transfer portal page.

2021 Football Transfer Portal (247sports.com)

That ends my review. Any suggestions on what you would like to see on future articles?

Thanks, Richard

Note: Here is the Pitt 2021 schedule – disregard the upper left Austin Peay win of last season (you remember that game – that skewed stats so wildly that some thought our offense looked good last year 😉)

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Guest MMQB: New Hampshire Win

Here is a MMQB opinion piece written by our friend 6&34 (Jay Kaplan). Enjoy…

What did we learn from Saturday’s drubbing of New Hampshire (NH)?  Not a thing.

In some respects the offense against NH looked like it did against Western Michigan (WM) except the running game was statistically considerably better.  I take nothing from that.

QB Kenny Pickett said that he had no doubt that if Pitt’s defense had stopped WM’s in their last series in that game so as to give Pitt’s offense another chance to score he had “no doubt” they would have. Of course, “no doubt” is hyperbole but at the time I liked their chances. Then again, I liked their chances to get the ball back with at least a minute or more on the clock.

When I was sixteen, I’d play hooky and go to Aqueduct Racetrack to gamble my hard earned caddy money. One of the first things I learned was to look for a horse who was healthy and was dropping two classes from his race history. That two class drop may not have made a horse a sure thing but it dramatically shifted the odds.

From: dkpittsburghsports.com

NH was at least three levels below Pitt. I’m sorry, I just was not impressed with anything I saw. Certainly not the offensive line who gave up a sack (you folks who are OK with us giving up a sack? – it came from Pitt’s left side getting beat – not a blitz). That was pathetic, and for what’s it’s worth, it was not the second string that allowed Pickett to get hit (and he was hit hard).

So, no, I don’t give a rat’s behind that Pitt threw up seventy-seven points while giving up only seven. Actually, the seven the defense gave up was rather pathetic and reminiscent of a lot of other SOP bovinically processed vegetation (Ed: in other words bullsh…) that we have witnessed from HC Narduzzi’s exalted defenses. OK, Pickett reinforced the belief that he is better this year than prior years, but that’s not telling us something new. The same thing can be said for the wide receivers.  Yes, Pitt’s passing game against NH could be seen as an extension of the potency we saw against WM but why go there. WM beat Pitt and there were quite a few three and outs by Pitt in that game. So, you could see it as an extension.

 But I choose not to because we lost to WM and the bitter taste is still in my mouth. Anyway, Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) football is not even close to Mid-American Conference (MAC) football.

Now its true many POVers did not think that the offense would be as potent as it has been this far into the season. Others thought otherwise. But neither the negativos or positivos should sulk or preen about being right or wrong because ACC play has not started yet for Pitt, and let’s not kid ourselves, Pitt has not yet  played a good team let alone a very good team. We still know very little about this Pitt team.

Our Commander has given me license to write whatever I want to write, and I choose not to point out either Pitt’s offensive, defensive of special team accomplishments. I will make a few exceptions.

Rodney Hammond (The Next LeSean?)

One, RB Rodney Hammond has some special qualities especially for a back his size. I’m far from convinced that he is better than RBs Izzy Abakanda or Vince Davis but we have seen him exhibit those qualities before so that is encouraging. To those who think he is the second come of LeSean McCoy, consider that he is only 175 lbs and we still have no idea how fast he is.

Two, I liked the way the Pitt coaches substituted. I felt bad that the score ran up the way it was and I suspect Narduzzi did as well but the criticism of Narduzzi for being declasse for the final score seems to me to say more about the people criticizing Narduzzi than Narduzzi himself. For goodness sake, Pitt played five quarterbacks.

I should note the two missed extra points (I feel bad for the scholarship player, Ben Sauls [Ed Note: Left in happier days] who missed them – maybe he makes forty out of forty in practice but if you miss two extra points in one game (actually within the first 5 minutes and 29 seconds of the game, it is like me kicking extra points and trust me, that just won’t do).

And, of course, the offensive run blocking showed me nothing. Positivos, remember any “improvement” is questionable because it was performed against a team three classes below Pitt.  

One last comment. I saw some really fine sportsmanship by some Pitt players. DE Haba Baldonado putting his arm on the NH quarterback after a play (not at the end of the game) was something I can’t recall ever seeing before and particularly stood out. On the other hand, the typical, over-the-top rejoicing after a favorable Pitt game event I found grating. Dudes, you lost last week to a MAC team and now you are beating up on a team three classes below you. You know how they feel. Mute your joy over accomplishing nothing. Whoop it up when you do it against someone your own size.

Hail to Pitt

New Hampshire Gameday Thread & Predictions

University of New Hampshire Athletics logo - link to home

Here is the Gameday Thread for PITT football as we play the New Hampshire Wildcats in Heinz Field at 12:00 noon. Following are some websites that might help you all get ready to cheer the team onto a win. 

These can be used for in-game commenting research also.

Pitt Football Homepage

Pitt ESPN Homepage

Pitt Football 2021-22 Schedule

Pitt Football 2021-22 Stats

Pitt Football 2021-22 Roster

Here are some sites for info on our opponents:

New Hampshire Football Website

Pitt vs New Hampshire Game Notes

Colonial Athletic Conference Football 2021-22 Standings (w/ links to team pages)

New Hampshire Stats (current & historical info)

Here is Pitt’s Two Deep for the game:

If we lose this one the police need to close all the bridges in the Pittsburgh area to stop jumpers.