For the majority of the season, Georgia’s players were able to keep their composure in games.
During Saturday’s 40-17 loss to Auburn, some of that composure unraveled. Sony Michel threw an Auburn player to the turf, drawing an uncharacteristic 15-yard penalty. D’Andre Walker attempted to leap over the punt-protection shield and got a 15-yard penalty as well.
Those penalties, and the other five Georgia committed, proved pivotal in swinging the game’s momentum Auburn’s way.
The way head coach Kirby Smart sees it, these are avoidable penalties.
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“Those decisions, I always tell people, are made long before the moment happens,” Smart said. “You’ve made your mind up, if a guy shoves you late or pushes you late, that you’re going to retaliate or you’re not. You’ve made your mind up that when you have an opportunity to hit a guy on the sideline that you’re going to do it or you’re not.”
While Georgia hasn’t had too big of a problem in unsportsmanlike and dead ball penalties this season, it still has committed plenty throughout the season. Georgia ranks 12th in the SEC in total penalties (67) and yardage accrued per game (55.6). The Bulldogs’ penalty-filled game against Auburn only raised the average yards per game from penalties by 2.2 yards.
Understandably so, Smart would like to see this area decreased over his team’s remaining games.
“The decisions are made long before it actually happens and you have to make sure they make the right decisions,” Smart said. "There were a lot of time that we didn’t the other night.”