Different season, same ankle-bitin' issue.
Miami's 21-16 upset over visiting No. 12 Florida revealed that early undisciplined penalties continue to haunt the Gators.
It's a nagging problem Florida's staff has been working to address, but it's obvious that it's just not sticking. During UF media day, head coach Will Muschamp discussed the Gators' airhead penalty woes (via GatorZone.com):
I'm more concerned with the selfish and stupid penalties we've had the last two seasons. It's something we did not improve on. All the things we wanted to work on and improve as a football team, last year we did except for that.
If the Miami game was any indicator, it's looking like nothing's changed in that regard.
UF's recurring struggle with penalties over the years has certainly been well-publicized, as the Gators are continually the most penalized team in the SEC. In 2012, Florida averaged an appalling 68.8 penalty yards per game.
The Gators finished with 10 penalties for 69 yards against the 'Canes.
Florida lost control early on at Sun Life Stadium, especially evident in its opening drive via the Burton brothers. Trey Burton was flagged for a false start to move the Gators back to the Miami 28. Little bro Clay joined in immediately after with a personal foul, pushing them to the 43 and out of field-goal range.
Those penalties had to remind Gators fans of this beaut of a reaction from Muschamp to a penalty by a Florida player in last year's Georgia game.
The penalties proved to be costly, as soon after, RB Matt Jones committed an uncharacteristic fumble that resulted in Miami's possession at the 50, a turnover that led to the 'Canes' first-drive TD.
Well there's back-to-back Burton brother penalties sandwiching a Trey Burton third-down conversion. #FloridaFootball— Bryan Holt (@Bryan_Holt) September 7, 2013
Easley called for roughing the passer. That's 3 penalties for 35 yards and a turnover for #Gators in half a quarter.— Chris Harry (@GatorZoneChris) September 7, 2013
Going into this weekend, Florida knew how explosive Miami's offense was going to be, and its defense proved to be a force to be reckoned with, forcing five turnovers.
In a low-scoring, close matchup like this one, the Gators can't afford to give the opponent advantages with boneheaded penalties early on. By halftime, UF had already committed five penalties, fumbled twice and thrown an interception, and trailed Miami 14-6.
Though the undisciplined penalties were an issue, it was ultimately the forced turnovers and quarterback Jeff Driskel's struggles in the red zone that led to the Florida defeat. Miami only ran 15 plays in Florida territory the entire game.
However, if the Gators had succeeded in avoiding those undisciplined penalties earlier, could they have come closer to victory in the end?