Working on the penalty problem

     Athens – Last football season, Georgia ranked 115th out of 119 Division I-A teams in penalties. The Bulldogs were penalized 112 times for 938 yards, 72.15 yards per game.  Atrocious.

    That has not been forgotten in spring practice.

   “Every coach has a systematic way of logging during practice any penalty that happens,”  Mark Richt was saying Thursday.  “And when practice is over, those coaches have some form of discipline – up-downs and that kind of thing.”

    Moreover, Richt said, the emphasis this spring is on curing the cause of excessive penalties.

    “We’re going back to the basics and trying to create habits,” he said.  He thinks a superbly conditioned, fundamentally sound player who gets into proper position on a play is less likely to commit an infraction. “The better we are at fundamentals and the better condition we are in, I think the less chance we’ll have these kind of penalties.”

   Even now, though, Richt admits he  doesn’t know why last year’s team was more penalty-prone than his others.  But he also knows it can’t happen again.

      Thursday’s practice was an interesting one,  with 250 or so  high school football coaches – in Athens for Georgia’s spring clinic – gathered ‘round on a cool, damp afternoon.  “Get as close as you want [to the action],” Richt told the coaches. “Just make sure you’re at a safe distance.”

   After practice, Richt offered some opinions about the spring so far:

     Joe Cox has really been very good.”

     “I think the most dominating player to this point has been Geno Atkins – not to anybody’s surprise, probably.”

     “I think so far I’ve seen a team that doesn’t want to be just a coach-driven team. They want to drive themselves. That’s super important.”

   Blair Walsh seemed to handle well the news that another scholarship kicker, Brandon Bogotay of San Diego, will arrive this summer.   Walsh said coaches informed him in advance of the JUCO kicker’s signing, and “they have their reasons for it.” But he vowed to compete hard and hold on to his jobs handling field goals, extra points and kickoffs. Here’s my full story on that situation.

   OK, so what do you think about what you’ve heard from spring ball? You think the penalty problem will be solved?  And what do you think about spending another scholarship on a kicker? 

74 comments Add your comment

paul in J-ville

March 27th, 2009
5:33 am

Not only the most penalized team, but the STUPID penalty’s killed us. That is all coaching and I hope CMR has corrected that.
Joe Cox will be fine barring any injuries, what about the back-ups like Logan Grey??? Could he step right in and handle the job??

JB

March 27th, 2009
5:52 am

last year, we were suppose to be number 1 in the country….we played like number 36 most of the year. out of frustration, we hit people late and out of bounds…..because we couldn’t stop a Div 2 school.

AltamahaDawg

March 27th, 2009
7:19 am

The biggest factors that will cut down penalties will be experience, and fresh legs.

Gen Neyland

March 27th, 2009
8:08 am

Walsh from FL, Bogotay from CA. Where do the homegrown PK’ers go..? Georgia State, Morris Brown or Tech..?

TommyP

March 27th, 2009
8:27 am

If you use a ’ship on a kicker, you just have to make sure you don’t miss. Walsh has been a hit as a place-kicker. This guy will have to be a hit as a kickoff specialist.

I’m very comfortable and confident in Joe Cox as our QB. I would, however, LOVE to hear more about Logan Gray.

hop

March 27th, 2009
9:31 am

the reports from other news outlets seem to agree that logan gray is doing quite well, and because of his many talents will be used during the game.

he is faster than dj and appears to be an overall better athlete.

GeoffDawg

March 27th, 2009
9:42 am

AltamahaDawg makes a good point – fewer injuries means less exhaustion. Less exhaustion means better focus and focus is what this defense was sorely lacking last year. Not just in penalties but in poor technique, arm tackling or not wrapping up, or just simply playing out of position from the get go.

GeoffDawg

March 27th, 2009
9:44 am

I know we’ve signed plenty of quality in-state kickers over the years. Rex Robinson, Hap Hines, Billy Bennett, etc. Off the top of my head though, I can’t remember where either Kevin Butler or Brandon Coutu hailed from out of high school.

Big Will

March 27th, 2009
10:36 am

Don’t know about you guys, but going 15/23 on FG in JUCO doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

GeoffDawg

March 27th, 2009
10:42 am

I don’t think he’s here to handle the FG duties Big Will but the competition should still be good for Walsh.

Richard Dawson

March 27th, 2009
10:45 am

Experience will cut down on penalties? What more experience does this year’s team have that last year’s didn’t?

uga_b

March 27th, 2009
11:04 am

Coutu was from Collins Hill. Butler is from Georgia as well.

Stupid penalties were from frustration, whether from the score, being out of position, or previous shots taken.

uga_b

March 27th, 2009
11:06 am

Big Will, they are bringing him in because of his big leg. Even pro teams will have a punter, kickoff specialist, and place kicker sometimes. His main job will be booting it out of the endzone; however, he is still a raw talent and really just started playing. Texas Tech had a walk-on fan kick for them, so it can get worse.

Right On Time

March 27th, 2009
11:18 am

Geoff:

If memory serves me Butler went to Redan and Kotu went to Collins Hill.
Billy was a walk-on. Would love to have another like him.

Right On Time

March 27th, 2009
11:21 am

Sorry Coutu, not Kotu…my speller is obviously on the fritz.

jnthnmc

March 27th, 2009
11:32 am

Penalties are direct result of a lack of focus. These guys are coming to the play with a lazy mentality and that is why you get your offsides, false starts, even some holds. We need good ol fashioned discipline which appears to be what we are hearing to some extent from this team and coaches this year.

Tim Tucker

March 27th, 2009
11:42 am

FYI . . . Georgia has canceled today’s practice, which was to have been a scrimmage in Sanford Stadium, because of the weather. Next practice is Monday.

Gen Neyland

March 27th, 2009
12:08 pm

Tim Tucker : Now comes the chatter for that indoor practice field…and Right On Time is right on regarding Butler. But what of today’s PK’ers..? I remember when Butler played at UGA and with Da Bears. Guy cost me 50 bucks by hitting a FG before flipping the field and losing the wind at his back during the Super Bowl…One of my more vivid memories of Butler was him sitting in the passenger seat of some black Trans Am as the Trans Am was about to leave Athens for the NFL…

Bryan G.

March 27th, 2009
1:14 pm

I think the new kicker thing is very underrated. The new guy had 20 touchbacks last year which is more important to me than his FG numbers.

Walsh last year had 10% of his kickoffs go out of bounds. That’s awful. It’s a big field out there, Blair….

NewnanDawg

March 27th, 2009
1:22 pm

I agree with some others that I would like to hear something a little more in depth about Logan Gray.

Also, if what has happened so far this offseason is any indication, focus and responsibility must be better this year. If I recall correctly, there were already several arrests/incidents by this time last offseason. So far, not a mention of any problems this year. Looks like the older guys are setting a good example and the coaches have laid down the law.

Finally, for those who haven’t seen it, I regret not having the link, but the reno of Butts-Mehre will probably take care of the bad weather days. It’s not a full indoor field, but darn close, and the whole place looks incredible; state of the art.

Go Dawgs!

FloridaDawg

March 27th, 2009
1:39 pm

We had 3 losses last year. 2 of those looses had nothing to do with penalties.
We need to eliminate penalties for sure because it will cost you a game(s)…maybe it cost us the Tech game, don’t remember.

Cuz

March 27th, 2009
1:41 pm

Okay pick one. An indoor football practice facility or the Youclan Arena for Gymnastics and that other game we play in the fall and winter.

Cuz

March 27th, 2009
1:43 pm

All I remember Fladawg is it seemed that last year when we got a big play for some momentum, it would be crushed by a penalty. It got old, I got old.

Cuz

March 27th, 2009
1:47 pm

I wonder if I can get a stimulus grant for the Cuz indoor parking facility for the Masters? I promise to employ three illegal immigrants. Vammanos los pollos!

godawg

March 27th, 2009
1:50 pm

The coaches need to be pickier about calling penalties in practice than SEC officiating crews…I know…sounds impossible…

AltamahaDawg

March 27th, 2009
1:50 pm

My wife can’t get me on facebook, but I have just enough man-crush for Richt to get on twitter.

Wes

March 27th, 2009
1:58 pm

Mark is one of the world best head coaches. He will be the BEST!

Cuz

March 27th, 2009
2:01 pm

godawg did you drink your lunch? That would be a penalty on every play. Stay safe in dem hills you never know when an assistant coach might rip off his shirt.

AltamahaDawg

March 27th, 2009
2:05 pm

I think when you don’t have freshman trying to block, you will not see as many procedural penalties. I think when you can rotate the D-ends you wont see as many late hits trying to compensate for getting there a half step late. (although it seemed a couple of those were questionable at best). I think when you get a better pass rush, you won’t see the D-back needing to grab on. A few of those holding calls were better than the alternative.

Personally I am glad (mostly because its over), that IF you are going to have freakish numbers of injuries, IF you are going to have unusual amount of penalties, IF you are going to lose to tech every 8 yrs, it happened all in one year. The chances are pretty remote of any of that happening again soon. Frankly for a lot of UGA fans, anything less than an undefeated NC season was going to disappoint them, so may as well get all that out of the way at one time if it wasn’t to be.

And from what I can tell, all of that is providing motivation now.

Had we finished with a couple of near misses last year, how easy would it be to think this is just going to be a down year and look ahead. It looks like they are seriously trying to Improve on a 10-3 season. Thats a pretty big Nut.

I-DOG

March 27th, 2009
2:07 pm

off subject, but I thought is was interesting to read that SF won’t take Stafford if he is available and it appears to be based on his unwillingness to answer questions about his parents divorce.

It is certainly SF’s right NOT to take Stafford, but seems an unusual reason to knock someone like Stafford. No head case problems while in HS or at UGA. His worst off field mistake was being innebriated off season as a Freshman and having photos taken.

With his high wonderlic (spelling?) you would think that not wanting to talk freeley to a complete stranger about one’s parents divorce would not be a red flag issue.

Maybe they are releasing that info because they are trying to get the Lions to 2nd guess taking him ahead of the 49ers so that they can take him? Seems very strange.

godawg

March 27th, 2009
2:15 pm

Cuz, well it IS Friday…going to run into abnoxville in a little bit and hope the Diamond Dawgs can squeeze a W in around the raindrops…need to stay lubricated…

As for Stafford and the 49ers: Wouldn’t you think that psych report results would be confidential? Why is Singletary talking about them to the press? Whose business is that anyway? Classless…

Tony

March 27th, 2009
2:20 pm

If you think about the penalties, injuries, suspensions, kicking the ball out of bounds on kick offs, & lack of basic takling techniques UGA shouldn’t have won a single game. Not satisfied with last year, but it could have been alot worse. Many lessons learned from it. One good thing about the injuries is that we do get a very experienced & deep offensive line back.

Oledawg

March 27th, 2009
2:28 pm

Doesn’t anyone remember the kicking game before the beginning of last year? Blair was here as a fieldgoal kicker. Butler and another player were to kick off and possibly punt. Everything ended up on Blair’s back. What happened to the other competitors? Their unavailability was the chief reason that we had to force Walsh into the game. Now with Bogotay, Walsh may concentrate on his specialty, field goals. If Bogotay is left to kickoffs he may do better than in JUCO because he can concentrate on his specialty. Anyone walking onto a college field to kick for the first time and do what this guy has done gives me hope that one of our problems may be resolved. And it may lead to a higher % field goals per attempt by Blair. Does anyone recall a kicker name of “Spike” Jones? Watched him kick an 86-87yd punt.

Bryan G hit the head on the nail(bet that hurts!) with his comments. I also like the questions concerning Logan Gray. Somehow I’m pullin’ to see this guy on the field. His quiet approach and athletic ability gives the glimmer of a heroic quality waiting to be ushered onto the Bulldawg Nation’s stage. We will see, but I’d like to add my name to those wanting to hear more.

We have read this past week of the D successes including interceptions and runbacks. Who threw those balls? Haven’t heard. Would like to know how many were due to throws, wrong routes or great athletic effort on the D’s part. That way we can cheer for players to improve and/or watch the individuals who are puttin’out on D.

UgaVII- Haven’t heard too much from you old boy. I say “old” because of the three blazin’ scars on your butt from last year. I still think we need someone to write for you during the games where you can tell us what happens on the sidelines. Did anyone read Jeff Owen’s Blog and what he had to say to the fans? Good Dawg!

Oledawg

March 27th, 2009
2:35 pm

We “have read”?? I hope Altamaha doesn’t see that! Sorry.

law dawg

March 27th, 2009
2:40 pm

I’ve heard that Singletary is supposed to be this great stand up guy. If he was accurately quoted about Stafford, then Singletary is a total douch.

dawgfan1

March 27th, 2009
2:45 pm

First things first.
I will bet you my first born that Cox will have better numbers than Stafford. Yep! Stafford may have a better arm, but it doesn’t do you any good if you over-throw your receiver by 15 yards. Don’t dismiss Cox’s arm. He has plenty of arm and is very accurate. Wait and see. However, Logan is the QB of the future. This guy can do it all. Even though he is a faster runner than Shockley, he is a drop back passer, making him a Joe Montana, but with blazing fast legs if you rush him.

The kicker situation. We will be fine. We needed help with kickoffs. This guy is the man. We need Blair to concentrate 100% on field goals. The scholarship things doesn’t matter to me. By the way, Billy Bennett was originally a walk-on. He currently holds the record for most all-time scored points in NCAA. Not bad Billy!

Kenny Powers

March 27th, 2009
2:50 pm

Where is Butler’s kid?

big dawg

March 27th, 2009
2:59 pm

ole dawg, we won’t know the answer to those questions because practices are closed to the media. we will only get what CMR wants us to get. which is okay with me. but from my understanding from an inside source, mettenberger is looking pretty good for a true freshman. wouldn’t surprise me to hear he will get some PT this year. another guy looking good is vance cuff at corner. i’ve got more if you want to know.

Oledawg

March 27th, 2009
3:04 pm

It seemed as if more than 50% of the calls last year were wrongly assessed against the Dawgs. I generally marvel at the eyes of most refs when we can only see the infraction in slow motion while they called it “right on” in real time. The poor calls last year gave a new set of downs that the D had to overcome many times and in poor situations. While I respect most calls, many were poor last year and occurred mostly in three games. That doesn’t even take into account the “no calls” that would have leveled the field. Somehow, I can’t get too carried away with some of our mistakes that were called in error. Some of those calls helped to deflate the D more than once. It was indeed a great year to win 10 in that milieu.
We should watch them(the refs) closely this year and compare notes after games…then complain loud as hell to Slive by e-mail. That’s the least we could do as fans.

Bulldawg

March 27th, 2009
3:05 pm

I concur! Could one of the AJC folk address the issue of Logan G.? Ya know, perhaps even asking Richt his thoughts…

Thank you in advance, oh, and FCK FLORIDA!

Hunk Erdown

March 27th, 2009
3:05 pm

Hunk Erdown

March 27th, 2009
3:07 pm

I hate going to the trouble of typing a great comment that doesn’t show up. lol

Oledawg

March 27th, 2009
3:08 pm

big dawg- Keep posting the good info. I saw where Mettenberger threw for several tds over 60yds. True?

Hunk Erdown

March 27th, 2009
3:11 pm

Oledawg-

I agree witcha. Maybe the endzone celebration put us on the radar for the officials, but they sure had us pegged all year long.

Oledawg

March 27th, 2009
3:11 pm

big dawg- My last post didn’t go through. Yes, please continue. I saw where Mettenberger threw for several tds over 60 yds. True?

uga_b

March 27th, 2009
3:13 pm

After seeing all the “progress” the 49ers have made with Alex Smith, I would have thrown the interview as well. I would have insulted everyone’s mama and then stormed out. At least he hasn’t publically exposed himself in the middle of a glass house–I mean–press room.

Oledawg

March 27th, 2009
3:25 pm

Bulldawg- Your statement is redundant. We already know them as FU. Kicking their collective arses will still only mollify my feelings for last year if we do it 10 yrs in a row. And that’s only for the one game.
I do like the “new” spirit coming out of camp and what we sometimes forget is that these guys have a sense of revenge that’s only good for them. Guarantee that some players are still smoldering during workouts. They were embarrassed in front of their family and friends as well. The Dawgs are gonna git’em good.

Bulldawg

March 27th, 2009
3:32 pm

Oledawg-

Sure it is redundant but it feels sooooo good.

Give me a hearty “FCK FLORIDA!”

big dawg

March 27th, 2009
3:38 pm

i’ll know more about yesterdays practice later this evening, but was told michael moore will have a huge role in this years offense.. seems like he and JCOX like to hook up.,and back to mettenberger, he evidently has a stafford like arm..not much mobility, but has a cannon. another name we haven’t heard much of is tanner strickland, his stock is rising but his problem is that he is having to go up against geno, who has been virtually unstoppable..was told that nobody has really stepped up at DE which is still a lil concerning.

Oledawg

March 27th, 2009
3:39 pm

UP FU! How’s that, Bulldawg? On second thought it’s still not suitable. FCK FU! You are correct. It does feel good!