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October 29, 2011

Penalties, losses piling up


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JACKSONVILLE, FL -- For the fourth game in a row, Florida found itself in the loss column.

And for the third straight game, the opposing team wasn't the only one to beat the Gators.

After Florida fell victim to too many penalties against LSU and Auburn, the Gators once again beat themselves in Saturday's 24-20 loss to rival Georgia.

"Too many penalties in critical situations," coach Will Muschamp said. "I'm disappointed with it."

Florida committed six costly penalties for 40 yards against Auburn two weeks ago, and 12 for 90 yards against LSU the week before that. But those numbers paled in comparison to Saturday's showing.

The Gators, who entered the game as the most penalized team in the nation (8.71 per game), were flagged 14 times for 106 yards against the Bulldogs, who themselves committed just four penalties for 22 yards.

Florida expected to be able to correct its penalty issues during the bye week, but that wasn't the case in Jacksonville.

Of Florida's 14 penalties, 12 of them can be classified as undisciplined ones. The Gators committed three delay-of-game penalties, they were called offsides once and had four false starts and one hold.

"One time I was having difficulty hearing the quarterback," center Jonotthan Harrison said. "It's just an individual here or there on the offense that's causing penalties."

The most glaring of the undisciplined calls against Florida, though, were three flags for personal fouls.

Ronald Powell was flagged for a late hit on a punt return when he hit a Georgia player in the back, out of bounds, after the play was over. As a result, Florida was pinned at its own 9-yard line and fumbled the ball back to Georgia two plays later.

Defensive tackle Jaye Howard also committed a personal foul when he tackled Georgia's Carlton Thomas by the facemask. The third personal foul was on Deonte Thompson on a kickoff return by the Bulldogs.

"There's two different parts of penalties," Muschamp said. "Some are undisciplined and those are the ones that are tough to deal with, and I've got to do a better job with the others. I'll work on that."

The other penalties are ones that Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn have said they can live with: aggressive defense resulting in pass interference calls.

The Gators committed two of those Saturday.

One kept Georgia's game-winning drive alive in the fourth quarter when cornerback Jaylen Watkins was flagged for it on wide receiver Chris Conley on a third-and-10 play. With a renewed chance to drive, the Bulldogs found the end zone five plays later for their first lead of the game.

Freshman corner Marcus Roberson then committed the other on a third-down play on Georgia's drive to end the game. Instead of Florida stopping Georgia on third-and-4 play in Bulldogs territory, Georgia was able to keep the drive alive and run out the final five minutes of clock.

"That's something we've got to get better at, we're beating ourselves," defensive tackle Omar Hunter. "Not to say Georgia didn't do a great job because they did. They finished, like I said. But we're really beating ourselves right now with these penalties."


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