Penalties Show up Again for Dawgs

AUBURN - It was coaches' pet peeve after the first month of the season. It was the focus of the Georgia players' practice sessions for several weeks. It was a problem the Bulldogs thought they had put behind them.

During Saturday's 17-13 win over Auburn, however, Georgia's penalty problem reared its ugly head once again.

The Bulldogs had nine penalties in the game, costing them 95 yards and contributing to a low-scoring affair in which the offense struggled to dent the scoreboard and the defense had trouble getting off the field.

"We're being aggressive, but a little overaggressive," linebacker Darryl Gamble said. "We just need to be smarter about that."

The flags started flying almost immediately after kickoff.

On Auburn's first offensive drive, cornerback Asher Allen and wide receiver Montez Billings began pushing and shoving each other, resulting in offsetting personal-foul penalties.

Georgia followed with five more personal fouls in the game – four coming in the first half.

"Guys are just not using their head," defensive tackle Corvey Irvin said. "They want to be too aggressive. When guys are running out of bounds or when the whistle is blown, they still want to hit."

Georgia led the nation in penalties through the first five games of the season, but the coaching staff cracked down on the miscues during the Bulldogs' first bye week.

The result – beyond a lot of extra running for the players – was a drop in the number of flags Georgia saw in the next few games.

After averaging more than 10 penalties per game during their first six games of the season, the Bulldogs hadn't been flagged more than eight times or assessed more than 59 yards in penalties in any of their past four outings.

The reduction in penalties, however, also coincided with some of the defense's worst performances of the season. Linebacker Rennie Curran said he didn't think the effort to avoid penalties resulted in a lack of aggressiveness, but he said Saturday's flags were a sign of a more energetic approach.

"That's always going to happen when you've got guys playing aggressive and just scratching and clawing with their backs against the wall," Curran said. "You might get a hand up or get a personal foul when you're trying to intimidate, and that's what we were trying to do."

The Bulldogs' defense played its best game in a month against Auburn despite the high number of penalties. So while Irvin said he fully expects the team to be doing its fair share of calisthenics as punishment Monday, the flags are a far more pleasant alternative to another high-scoring affair.

"I'm glad I see that guys are trying to hit and trying to punish," Irvin said. "I'm glad they're not being soft out there, not trying to wrap up. We got some penalties, and we'll handle them on Monday and get back to the chalkboard."

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