Notebook: Penalties doom Gators in Georgia loss

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain gestures to the referee during the Florida-Georgia Game in Jacksonville. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

JACKSONVILLE — Florida coach Jim McElwain made cutting down penalties a priority when he first took over the program close to three years ago.

But the Gators reverted back to bad habits during their 42-7 loss Saturday to Georgia at EverBank Field. Florida was flagged a season-high 14 times for 85 yards in the loss.

Florida began the game with a false start penalty on its first play, a sign of things to come. In all, the Gators were whistled for seven false-start penalties, with guard Fred Johnson flagged twice. McElwain said Georgia’s defensive line shifts contributed to UF’s procedural woes.

“They were stemming up front and it’s something we work on and we talk about and they got us,” McElwain said.

Another critical penalty came early in the third quarter when tight end DeAndre Goolsby was whistled for an offensive pass interference on a fourth-down play, allowing Georgia to take over on downs.

“The little penalties here and there, the false starts, stuff like that, we need to improve on,” Florida redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks said. “That’s little mistakes that we can control. You know there’s going to be penalties here and there, holding, that’s part of football. But the false starts we can control.”

Davis hurts knee

Florida lost its leading rusher, freshman running back Malik Davis, late in the first quarter with a knee injury. Davis had four carries for 20 yards before being taken to the locker room.

With Davis out, sophomore running back Lamical Perine stepped up with 16 carries for 93 yards, while senior Mark Thompson had a rushing TD. Freshman Adarius Lemons had his first carries of the season at running back and had three carries for 18 yards.

McElwain said sophomore defensive lineman Jachai Polite suffered a shoulder injury during the game, while linebacker Kylan Johnson suffered a hamstring injury.

Freshman wide receiver Kadarius Toney (shoulder) and sophomore wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (ankle) both suited up and played for the Gators, but may have re-injured themselves during the game, McElwain said. Toney had one catch for eight yards and minus-1 yards rushing, while Cleveland had just one catch for five yards.

Defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga (ankle) also played.and finished with four tackles and half a tackle for loss. Sophomore receiver Josh Hammond sat out due to a back injury.

Tebow recognized

Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow received a loud ovation from the crowd before the game after being recognized as one of four players inducted to the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame class.

Also inducted were former UF and NFL cornerback Lito Sheppard, former Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno and former Georgia linebacker Randall Godfrey.

Tebow, who grew up in Jacksonville, had his parents, Bob and Pam Tebow, with him on the sidelines before the game. Tebow, who went 3-1 against Georgia in his career, was also in town for SEC Network’s SEC Nation pregame show and picked Georgia to beat Florida before the game.

Burnett ejected

Florida redshirt freshman cornerback McArthur Burnett was ejected late in the third quarter for targeting while trying to block on a Florida punt return.

Because the penalty happened in the second half, the 5-foot-9, 157-pound Burnett will sit out the first half of Florida’s next game on Nov. 4 at Missouri.

Zaire leads TD drive

Backup quarterback Malik Zaire entered the game in the fourth quarter and led Florida on a touchdown drive, allowing Florida to extend its Division I best streak of not being shut out to 368 straight games.

Overall, Zaire completed 3 of 6 passes for 36 yards and added 30 yards rushing. The 71-yard drive ended with Thompson’s 1-yard TD run with 2:32 remaining. It was the first action for Zaire, a Notre Dame grad transfer, since UF’s season opener Sept. 2 against Michigan.

Etc …

Captains for the game for Florida were defensive lineman Taven Bryan, cornerback Duke Dawson, offensive lineman Martez Ivey and offensive lineman T.J. McCoy. … As the visiting team, Georgia elected to wear their road white uniforms for the game. In the previous three years, Florida and Georgia both received special exemptions to wear their home blue and red uniforms at the same time. … Georgia is off to an 8-0 start for the first time since 2002. … Dawson, a former Dixie County High standout, had his third interception of the season and fifth of his career in the third quarter. … The loss, UF’s first against Georgia since 2013, dropped the Gators to 21-7 in their last 28 meetings with the Bulldogs. … The announced attendance was 84,107.



  1. I can’t understand why Franks continues to say we can fix the penalties. The team is not well coached and the players don’t have a great concentration level. Seven false start penalties speaks of poor game preparation. They practice together and should know when the ball will be snapped. The injuries to our best players seriously takes away any offensive threats we have left as nobody else has developed at all. It is tough to watch the team become demoralized. They have plenty to play for, after all they are Gators. Go Gators!!

  2. “Another critical penalty came early in the third quarter when tight end DeAndre Goolsby was whistled for an offensive pass interference on a fourth-down play, allowing Georgia to take over on downs.”

    Well, we didn’t complete the pass to the penalty was irrelevant.