No one wants extra time with Scott Sinclair.
If a player commits a penalty during practice, that’s the punishment – extra running with Sinclair, Georgia’s strength and conditioning coordinator. After committing 12 penalties for 127 yards in last Saturday’s 20-19 win over Notre Dame, the repercussions have increased throughout the week.
As linebacker Natrez Patrick said, nobody on Georgia’s football team wants to be sent to Sinclair.
“Heart drops instantly,” Patrick said. “As soon as they call the names.”
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Those who commit penalties are forced to run or roll, depending on what Sinclair and the strength staff is in the mood for. The incentive, of course, is to play cleaner football in practice. The Bulldogs, like all college teams, are able to monitor penalties by bringing in referees to officiate.
After committing so many penalties against Notre Dame, Patrick said the stakes have been raised when it comes to what happens if players break the rules of football. As a result, it has been a cleaner week of practice.
“Coaches have upped the ante on the punishment for the penalties during practice,” Patrick said. “There’s definitely a big encouragement not to get those penalties in practice.”
Of the 12 penalties, three were facemask grabs, two were pass interference calls and two were hands to the face personal fouls. Therefore, 105 of the 127 yards of penalties Georgia handed Notre Dame came on seven flags.
After the game, head coach Kirby Smart expressed his disappointment in the fact that Georgia defenders committed so many preventable penalties, especially when it came to grabbing the opposing team’s facemask.
“(Notre Dame) had that called four times in their game (against Temple), so maybe the facemasks got magnets,” Smart said, jokingly. “I don't know, but we keep grabbing them.”
While it is a small sample size of only two games, Georgia is last in the SEC when it comes to penalty yards at 86.5 per game. The Bulldogs rank 13th in flags thrown at 10 per game, with only LSU ranking behind them at 10.5
At the same time, Smart has noticed his defense has been attacking in a manner he prefers. So while the stats regarding penalties are a concern, Smart doesn’t want to divert his team from playing a physical brand of football.
“Some of those penalties are not undisciplined. They’re aggressive,” Smart said. “And I don’t go after aggressive penalties all the time because I think you can coach caution in your players. But we bring it to their attention and we show them a lot of stats on penalties.”
The defense isn’t the only side of the ball to tally a number of penalties against Notre Dame.
The offense committed two false starts and one hold, with another hold taking place on special teams. The offensive hold negated a long run from freshman running back D’Andre Swift and the special teams hold prevented a lengthy kickoff return from Elijah Holyfield.
Georgia has been quite cognizant of penalties this week and are hoping to shore that area up to prevent it from becoming a trend.
“It’s not a huge deal yet,” tight end Charlie Woerner said. “It’s good to catch it now and fix that at the beginning of the season. It’s definitely a concern.”