Georgia Tech stats report: Yellow Jackets efficient on offense, defense entering Miami game

ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback TaQuon Marshall #16 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets hands the ball to running back KirVonte Benson #30 during the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Bobby Dodd Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

[Tuesday UM practice report: Injury updates]

CORAL GABLES — Georgia Tech’s schedule to this point has been light, with a season-opener against Tennessee the hardest test to this point. Outside of that 41-42 loss, the Yellow Jackets (3-1, 2-0 ACC) have beat up on FCS Jacksonville State (37-10) and two struggling Coastal Division teams, Pittsburgh (35-17) and North Carolina (33-7).

This is the first true road game for Tech, which hasn’t beaten UM on the road since 2007, when it toppled the Hurricanes 17-14 in the Orange Bowl. Tech also upset the third-ranked Canes 14-10 in 2005.

Mark Richt is 14-2 against the Yellow Jackets in his career, including a 13-2 mark as Georgia’s coach. UM won 35-21 last year in Atlanta.

Miami (4-0, 2-0) is looking for its first 10-game win streak since 2003-04. If it is looking for inspiration, Georgia Tech can look to 2015, when it stunned ninth-ranked Florida State on a last-second blocked field goal return for a 78-yard touchdown. FSU entered that game with a 29-game win streak over ACC opponents. Miami has beaten its last six ACC foes.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said he didn’t think Miami was due for a letdown after beating Florida State last week, snapping a seven-game losing streak. This game is one of the key remaining challenges on UM’s schedule.

“They know what the importance of the game is,” Johnson said. “They’re going to be ready to play. It’s a division game, it’s a home game for them. If we go in there and beat them, it won’t be because they had a letdown.”

Georgia Tech — which like Miami last year, is coming off a bye entering this game — looks like the same old Georgia Tech.

It ranks 31st in points (36.5), 35th in yards per play (6.35) and unsurprisingly, second nationally in rushing yards per game (396.0).

The Yellow Jackets average 5.91 yards per carry (10th), which ranks behind Miami’s 6.40, which is sixth. Georgia Tech hasn’t finished behind Miami — or anywhere outside the top 20 — in rushing yards per carry since at least 2008.

Quarterback TaQuon Marshall, a converted running back (current running back, really, in Johnson’s offense), has been a capable leader. The junior is 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds. He has thrown for 333 yards and four touchdowns on 33 attempts (57.6 completion). He has 523 rushing yards (5.1 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns.

“I think that the moment just hasn’t gotten too big for him — that’s the one thing I worried about the most, especially in that first game,” Johnson said. “For the most part, he’s kept his composure really well and has just gone about it. Now, it’s going to heat up and this is also his first road game too. I think he’s a pretty confident kid, he works hard and wants to get better, so hopefully we’ll continue to see improvement.”

As usual, Georgia Tech leads the country in time of possession per game (nearly 37 minutes per game), gains third-downs often (fourth nationally in conversion percentage, 53.3) and is 4-of-5 on fourth down (ninth). In the red zone, Tech scores touchdowns 71.43 percent of the time, which is 26th nationally (UM is 49th).

Miami, content to score with big plays, is 127th in time of possession (slightly more than 25 minutes). Tech’s pass defense isn’t particularly active, ranking 75th in passes defended per game (4.25).

The Jackets’ passing offense, as usual, is nearly nonexistent but still dangerous. They rank between two service academies (128th Navy and 130th Army) in passing yards per game and average 8.5 pass attempts per game.  However, they gain 9.8 yards per attempt and have thrown four touchdown passes. Tech is ninth in tackles for loss allowed per game and 13th in sacks.

Because of Georgia Tech’s ball-control offense, low opponent yardage totals are expected, but this has been an efficient defense. It is 17th in both yards per play allowed (4.64) and opponent passer rating. However, it is a middling 56th in yards per carry allowed (3.84).

Tech’s offense doesn’t stretch the field, ranking 114th in plays of more than 10 yards.

With Georgia Tech trying to go on long drives all day, turnovers are typically gamebreaking developments. The Jackets have lost eight fumbles (124th), and rank 91st in total takeaways (six).

Defensively, arguably no team allows fewer big plays than Georgia Tech, which has surrendered 32 plays of 10-plus yards, 11 of 20-plus and none longer than 60. Tech’s defense has limited teams to 20 passing plays of 10-plus yards, which is tied with Air Force for the lowest total in the country. Eight of those passes have gone for 20-plus. On the ground, Tech has allowed 12 rushes of 10-plus (second) and none longer than 40 yards.

Tech is 37th in sacks per game and 106th in tackles for loss per game (UM is fourth in both categories). Both teams average one interception per game (72nd).

The Jackets have allowed touchdowns on 7-of-8 times an opponent has entered the red zone. Their third-down defense has been excellent, ranking fourth nationally in opponent conversion percentage (23.91)

Tech’s special teams haven’t been explosive. It is 104th in punt return average (3.88) and 128th in kick return average (13.67). Punt average (44.77 yards per attempt) is 16th, though only eight teams nationally punt less frequently (3.3 attempts per game). Tech is 3-for-5 on field goals and has missed two of 19 extra-point attempts.

Tech is one of the least-penalized teams, ranking fourth in yards per game (32.5). Miami continues to struggle in that area; it is 114th (74.0).

[Richt’s Monday comments on FSU, GT, injuries]

[Walton out for season with ankle injury]

[Miami-Cuse an afternoon kick; UM favored vs. GT]

MORE MIAMI-FSU 2017

[Hurricanes move up in polls after FSU win]

[Berrios was big-time | Earns ACC award]

[UM-Georgia Tech is an afternoon kickoff]

[Video: Rosier reacts to thrilling FSU win]

[UM 24, FSU 20: Five things we learned]

[Little-used Langham forever a Miami hero]

[Video: reacting to a huge Hurricanes win]

[Video: Canes fans celebrate, Richt’s reaction]

[Walton status, other injuries a concern]

[Live game blog: recap the wild finish]

[Photos: Scenes from a thrilling game]

[Pregame video from the field, photos]

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