AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn's offense had just put 82 points on the board during a scrimmage, as thorough a bashing of the defense as there's been this August.
Yet offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn remained displeased afterward, the few penalties his group committed gnawing away at his even-keeled temperament.
"That ain't good enough," the perfectionist said, unable to forgive or forget the mistakes.
Tigers coaches have beaten the drum all offseason — eliminate the penalties that were so damaging last year.
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Auburn committed 97 penalties for 847 yards last season, ranking 103rd nationally. That's 65.5 yards per game. Of the teams in the SEC, only Georgia committed more penalties for more yards.
To put those numbers in perspective, Kentucky, which had the fewest penalties in the league and ranked sixth nationally, had 58 penalties for 502 yards, more than 40 percent less than Auburn.
"If you have half of the penalties that we had at critical times in games, we win more games," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. "It's that simple."
A look at Auburn's penalty numbers suggests that could be true:
— Of the 40 penalties against the defense, 23 resulted in immediate first downs.
— Auburn committed defensive penalties on 12 drives eventually ended in touchdowns for opponents.
— Of the 46 penalties against the offense, 16 contributed to the team failing to make a first down in that set of downs.
— Twenty-nine penalties were procedural (false start, illegal formation/shift/substitution, delay of game).
The anecdotal evidence backs up Chizik's claim, too. In a 44-23 loss to Arkansas, Auburn's defense committed penalties on four different drives that eventually ended in Razorback touchdowns.
The following week in a 21-14 loss to Kentucky, the Tigers committed seven offensive fouls, five of which came on one error-plagued possession that ended with a punt.
On the potential game-tying drive, Auburn committed back-to-back false start penalties after getting in a third-and-1 situation in Kentucky territory. The Tigers turned the ball over on downs and didn't get it back.
But the boiling point might have been the Outback Bowl. Although they won, the Tigers committed 12 penalties for 140 yards. Eight of those were of the 15-yard variety.
Two were avoidable celebration penalties — one on Walt McFadden for high-stepping into the end zone on an interception return, one on Ben Tate for dunking the football over the goal post after a fourth-quarter touchdown run — that particularly irritated Chizik.
The offensive line is especially under the microscope this August.
The group was the primary culprit in 18 false start penalties and 13 holding flags last season.
Auburn has used officials during its scrimmages to help eliminate the penalties, but even they can't catch everything that happens on the field.
"We’re getting them for anything that’s even close," offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said. "I made a call on a penalty because I saw a hold that the refs didn’t catch, so they all paid a punishment for that."
Are the players getting the point?
"Ask them after they did all the up-downs after practice," Grimes said with a laugh. "We’re hammering that deal real hard right now. We’re not letting them slip on anything, whether it be an offside penalty or something that was holding or even could have been called holding.
"We’re making them very accountable for that and very aware of it."