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?