Taking a closer look at Tech’s third-down shortcomings

September 22, 2016 Atlanta - Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) carries a ball as Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive lineman Patrick Gamble (left) tries to steal in the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, September 22, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Georgia Tech defensive tackle Patrick Gamble tried to strip Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson of the ball in the Tigers’ 26-7 win over the Yellow Jackets Sept. 22. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

True or false: Georgia Tech is weak on third downs (125th out of 128 FBS teams at defensive third-down conversion rate) because the Yellow Jackets are in 3rd-and-short so frequently.

Partly true. Tech is indeed in 3rd-and-short often. Out of 101 third downs that the Tech defense has faced, 37 have been 3rd-and-short or shorter. The opposition has converted 26 of those for a healthy 70.3 percent clip.

However, opposing offenses have been in 25 third downs with seven, eight or nine yards to go. While a relatively small sample, they’ve converted 11 of those, 44.4 percent.

More analysis of the Yellow Jackets’ third-down problems and the efforts to solve them are in this story on myajc, With open date, Tech’s search for third-down solutions intensifies.

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