NCAA FB

No. 24 Florida trying to cut down on penalties

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)

Heavily penalized Florida is trying something new to reduce all those yellow flags.

Coach Will Muschamp is making his players do up-downs in practice if they jump offside. And not just the guilty party. If an offensive player gets flagged, the entire unit gets punished. Same goes for the defense.

''It comes down to us,'' senior linebacker Jon Bostic said. ''If we say we want to be a team and be at a certain place where we want to be, it's going to step back on the offensive leaders and defense to really say, `Hey we got to stop this.'

''We got to hold each and every person accountable out there. We can't jump offsides. We don't need the pass interferences. We don't need the blocking in the back on special teams. It's a lot of things in play.''

The 24th-ranked Gators were penalized 14 times for 106 yards in their 27-14 win over Bowling Green in the season opener. First-game jitters? Maybe. But yellow flags are nothing new under Muschamp.

Florida ranked 114th in the nation in penalties last season, averaging 7.69 a game. Only seven schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision were flagged more often.

''Yeah, we're disciplining them,'' said Muschamp, who points out that some of the best teams in the country commit numerous penalties. ''We'll handle that on the practice field.''

Florida will have a better idea if up-downs reverse the trend after Saturday's Southeastern Conference opener at Texas A&M.

''We all are pretty much mature enough to hold ourselves accountable,'' cornerback Jaylen Watkins said. ''Last year, we probably didn't have that. But we have that this year. We can leave it to the players to correct it.''

Florida committed a variety of infractions against the Falcons. There were three false starts, three offside penalties, three delays of game, two personal fouls, a roughing the passer, a holding call and a substitution violation.

That's enough yellow to make the coaches red.

''You've got to become more disciplined,'' offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. ''It's not just a football thing. If you're going to become more disciplined on penalties, you're going to become more disciplined in how you run your life. Going to class on time, how you prepare, being here, pay your tickets, get your books in on time, whatever. That's how you've got to become in life. You've got to compartmentalize yourself and be disciplined.''

Defensive end Dominique Easley was much less worried.

''I'm not concerned at all,'' Easley said. ''You live and you learn. We lived it. Now we got to learn from it.''

A couple of the penalties were costly, though.

Lerentee McCray's roughing-the-passer penalty on third down gave Bowling Green an extra 15 yards, moving the Falcons to the Florida 15-yard line. Bowling Green scored a few plays later.

Andre Debose' late hit out of bounds helped set up Bowling Green's second touchdown. Debose pushed punter Brian Schmiedebusch well after he stepped out following a fake.

The Gators overcame the penalties in the opener, but they realize they might not be as fortunate in close games or against the better teams in the conference.

''We don't want to go back down the road we went last year with penalties,'' Watkins said. ''We had a hundred yards of penalties that led to a few scores. ... Hopefully we get that corrected this week.''

Tagged: Bowling Green, Florida

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