FOOTBALL: Gators improving, penalty-wise

The dog days of summer are here, officially ushering in the all too long off-season for those of you who are impatiently waiting for fall practices to begin. It also means it's that time of the year where Gator fans talk about just anything, including... SEC Officiating and penalties in general for the Florida Gators. The statistics are actually eye-opening, showing UF's clear progress as a team.


Guess who's the leading conference in the NCAA in calling the most penalties? Yup, the glorious S.E.C. The SEC's 1,443 penalties edges out the PAC-10 conference's 1,314 penalties. On a per game average, they flip in the rankings with the SEC at 16.98 penalties called per game and the PAC-10 at 20.53 penalties. Either way, that's a brisk pace of penalties on a per game basis!

Seems the SEC officials don't take too kindly to quarterbacks grounding the ball - they called that penalty 50% more times than the next highest conference and finished with 22 grounding calls total for the season.

How about illegal formations? Remember how those were the bane of our offenses? Maybe it's really a SEC thing - as a whole, the SEC called that penalty an incredible 100% more times than the second place BIG-10 conference. The SEC had 104 illegal formation penalties called to the BIG-10's piddly 57 penalties.


Ah, yes, that's one of Coach Zook's beloved maxims. And it's apparently true when it comes to penalties!

Take offensive holding for example. Last season the offense was called for holding 7 times. The SEC as a whole was called 198 times, or 16.5 times per team. Take into account that only 2 of the Gator's offensive holding calls came in the last 7 games. It shows that the team is learning - at least not to get caught!

Florida head coach Ron Zook, left, questions a ruling during the game against Florida State Saturday, Nov. 29, 2003, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida State defeated Florida 38-34. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
Did it seem like Gator wide receivers seemed lost at times on the field? Maybe it's designed that way... The Gators only had 2 illegal formation calls on the offense all year and only one was for receivers not being lined up correctly. The other penalty was on Max Starks and it was really the official's fault because he didn't think that such a big man could still be all on the line of scrimmage... Anyway, UF's 2 penalties pale in comparision to the SEC average of 9.5 per team.

When it comes to delay of game penalties against the offense, the SEC averaged 8 calls per team. The Gators were only called for 4 of these all season. This could probably be attributed to your favorite topic on the boards - the no-huddle system. Still, this is an incredible statistic because you've got to take into account the youth at the QB position.

However, UF isn't perfect here. False starts burned them the most - the SEC has called a total of 197 false starts, averaging 16.5 per team. UF had 15 total. Not bad, really, all things considered.


It gets even "betterer" as the season progressed:

  • Offensive holding: Gators were flagged 7 times. 5 of those were in the first 5 games.
  • Delay of game: Gators had 3 of those called in the first 7 games out of 4 total called. 3 of the 4 were also on the road.
  • False Start: Out of 15 false starts called during the season, none were called in the last 5 games. Most of that has to be attributed to the quarterback and the players becoming familiar with each other.
  • Total penalties: As a whole, the Gator offense had 25 penalties called in the first 6 games and only 14 called in the last 7 games.

The Gators are certainly showing progress there and it also shows that they are becoming a more disciplined, well-rounded team. As Zook says, they are indeed getting better!

Fightin Gators Top Stories