Sometimes, numbers lie. That said, if you know which numbers to value and which to weigh more heavily, you get a better idea of what’s actually going on.
Data is driving change in sports. How we view players, how coaches value players, how we discuss team’s strengths and how we examine their weaknesses is increasingly dependent on advanced data that goes beyond the box score. Virginia Tech is no different and therefore, we should take a look at what the advanced analytics say about the Hokies through their first three games.
An efficient offense
The raw data suggests Virginia Tech’s offense is bordering on elite. The Hokies are 12th in yards per game and sixth in scoring.
Football Outsiders’ FEI ratings seem to support that data. According to their OFEI ratings, which measure a unit’s per-possession scoring advantages, Virginia Tech’s offense is 27th in the country.
Digging a little deeper, Football Outsiders’ advanced stats also tell us Virginia Tech ranks…
- 14th in ODP (points per drive)
- 19th in OAY (percentage of available yards earned)
- 8th in OPP (yards per play)
These statistics shouldn’t really come as a surprise. The Hokies’ offense has been by far the best unit. Despite Braxton Burmeister‘s inconsistent play, the offense has moved the ball consistently thanks to a terrific running game.
Putting the defense in perspective
The Hokies’ defense looked decent through games one and two, especially when you take into account all of the absences due to COVID-19.
That changed last weekend, when North Carolina gashed and picked apart the Tech defense to the tune of 56 points. It was one of the worst defensive performances in school history.
The regular data suggests the Hokies’ defense is downright bad. Virginia Tech ranks 70th in yards allowed per game and 68th in points allowed per game. When you consider two of the Power 5 conferences haven’t played yet, those rankings are even worse.
The advanced data paints a slightly rosier picture for the Hokies. Here’s how the defense stands in these metrics…
- 59th in DFEI (defensive efficiency)
- 50th in DPD (points per drve)
- 35th in DAY (percentage of available yards allowed)
- 59th in DPP (yards per play)
The advanced data suggests that Virginia Tech’s defense isn’t as bad as their last performance would indicate. The Hokies haven’t played an average offense quite yet — NC State’s offense under Bailey Hockman was pretty anemic when they weren’t playing Wake Forest, Duke’s offense keeps shooting themselves in the foot and North Carolina is an elite unit on that side of the ball.
We should see these numbers fall more into line with one another as the sample size increases.
An eye towards Boston College
While we’re at it, let’s quickly look at the Eagles’ statistical profile on offense…
- 66th in OFEI (offensive efficiency)
- 42nd in OPD (points per drive)
- 50th in OAY (percentage of yards earned)
- 61st in OPP (points per drive)
And, now the defense…
- 61st in DFEI (defensive efficiency)
- 26th in DPD (points per drive)
- 38th in DAY (percentage of yards allowed)
- 21st in DPP (yards per play)
The Eagles’ offense hasn’t been great, despite Phil Jurkovec‘s solid stat line. They’ve scored more than 30 points just once this season.
Boston College’s defensive metrics are contradictory. That should be sorted out as the sample size grows, but the Eagles have only allowed 30 or more points just once in four games.
Virginia Tech should expect Boston College to hang tough for most, if not all of, this game. The Eagles’ defense is stout and the Hokies’ have their own issues defensively. If the Hokies’ COVID-19 absences are yet again concentrated in the secondary, Virginia Tech might find themselves in some trouble.