Penalties an Issue Again

The Gators battled a worthy opponent in their 20-17 loss to the Auburn Tigers. But they also faced perhaps an even more fearsome enemy: themselves.

Though the box score totaled only seven penalties for 44 yards, the timing and circumstances under which they occurred could not have been worse.

It began when freshman safety Jamar Hornsby ran into Auburn punter Ryan Shoemaker and drew a 5-yard penalty, allowing the Tigers to convert a 4th-and-1. It may have been understandable if Hornsby nearly missed a block, but the contact came blatantly after the punt.

"It wasn't even close on the punt," head coach Urban Meyer said. "You shouldn't do that."

The mistake proved even more glaring when the Tigers would go on to drive down the field 72 yards and score a touchdown.

It didn't end there. Despite not having to deal with opposing crowd noise, the offensive line committed several false starts, which repeatedly put the offense in long yardage downs.

A successful fake punt was called back due to an illegal formation because there weren't enough players on the line of scrimmage.

Perhaps most deflating, a late hit by freshman guard Maurkice Pouncey drew a personal foul and stymied what could have been a scoring drive at the end of the first half. While the flag was clearly deserved, sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow talked about the intent behind Pouncey's actions.

"You don't like the penalty but you like the reason behind it," Tebow said. "He was trying to stick up for his teammates and going out there and playing with a lot of heart. You can't frown on a guy for that. He's a competitor and he plays hard. Sometimes you just have to know when to pull up."

This isn't a new liability for the Gators. They overcame twice as many penalties in last week's game against Ole Miss. Even on last year's veteran-laden team, the Gators were often plagued by penalties.

But nevertheless, the difference between last season and this one – the margin for error is much, much smaller. Dallas Baker is no longer there to make a crucial third down conversion. Reggie Nelson is no longer there to come up with a turnover when it's needed most. And perhaps most painfully, Jarvis Moss is no longer there to get his hand on the game-winning field goal.

Penalties will have to be reduced if the Gators are going to be successful in the remainder of the season. They simply can no longer overcome them.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Blake Bonsack


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