Friday, October 07, 2005

Football - You are what you are...

After last night's game, but before Saturday's slate of conference games, Georgia Tech is last in the ACC in completion percentage (43.7%). Only one other team, UNC, is completing less that 50% of its passes. Now you could say that we have to throw the ball out of bounds sometimes, or that with Calvin sometimes we take a chance on some deep balls that are longshots. But Georgia Tech is second to last in the ACC in yards per pass attempt (GT is at 5.48 yards per passing attempt, Duke is at 4.63. Wake is just slightly ahead of us at 5.64). So that's hard to argue. The fact that we throw a lot of deep balls is reflected, however, by the fact that we're 7th in passing yards per completion, and 8th in passing yards per game.

Some teams have played four games, some have played five, and some teams have used more than one QB. Duke has 5 guys who have thrown at least one pass, while Maryland and UNC have only had one guy do all the throwing. Three guys have thrown for Tech; Ball, Bennett, and Bilbo (who is 1 for 1 for 33 yards - the throwback play against UNC). And these stats are for all games, not just the ACC games. So you could argue that the stats don't necessarily reflect who in the ACC has a good passing game and who doesn't, or who in the ACC is a good quarterback and who isn't. I would disagree.
To put this in perspective, most of us thought Reggie was brilliant in the second half last night. I know that I did. But during that second half, Reggie completed 15 of 28 passes. That's 53%. There are 9 ACC teams that have a higher average completion percentage than that on the season so far.

The interesting thing is that we lead the conference in pass attempts per game, with 39.8. So we're doing a lot of what we're, relatively speaking at least, inefficient at. In one way that seems weird, but in one way it makes sense: if you're not completing a lot of passes, you're going to end up in more long yardage situations where you have to throw. But to be throwing nearly 40 times a game when you're completing less than half of those throws? That's tough. I don't think any of us like what that says about our running game.

The shocking thing about this is that Calvin Johnson is hands down the league's best receiver. How bad would our passing numbers look if he wasn't making clutch catch after clutch catch? And this isn't all on Reggie. For a passing play to go well, a lot of things have to happen, and all 11 guys have to do their jobs.

So maybe we're all wrong to be disappointed about last night's game. With arguably the most inconsistent and inefficient passing offense in the conference, maybe we should be ecstatic about being 3-2 (especially since the weakest team we have faced, UConn, just smacked Syracuse 26-7). But I bet most of us aren't. Those of us who went to Tech know that we're not regularly going to beat teams like Miami, FSU, VPI, or UGa. We're never going to have the depth (and that lack of depth really shows up on special teams - but let's stick to one depressing topic at a time) it takes to do that. Ideally, though, we should be able to compete with the middle of the pack in the ACC. That will be very tough to do this season unless we can get more efficient in the passing game.