Georgia’s two penalties proved costly.
In Saturday’s 48-6 win over Southern, the Bulldogs nearly had a clean game outside of two plays that earned yellow flags. On one, outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins committed an offsides penalty. On another, right tackle Kolton Houston lined up incorrectly and drew a flag for illegal procedure.
Committing two penalties for 10 yards seems fairly harmless, right?
Well, on Jenkins’ flag, defensive end Sterling Bailey came down with an interception on a deflected pass that was negated. On Houston’s penalty in the third quarter, quarterback Greyson Lambert connected with receiver Malcolm Mitchell on a deep pass that would have gone for a 39-yard touchdown.
Georgia entered Saturday averaging seven penalties for 65.3 yards per game. While there was improvement in terms of total penalties and yards, both flags negated what would have been huge plays.
“That’s something we want to get better at and be better, more disciplined, in regard to penalties,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “It was an improvement statistically -- two for 10 yards, that’s not too bad. But what did it cost us? A long touchdown and an interception. And the interception in the first half might have created some more separation (in the score) and it wouldn’t have been as dramatic.”
Bailey’s non-interception would have ended a Southern drive that resulted in a touchdown and took up 7 minutes, 51 seconds. Mitchell was more fortunate as he was still able to score from 23 yards out later on the same drive Houston's penalty occurred on. But Mitchell said the non-score hurt after the play was executed to near perfection.
“That was disappointing in the sense of that may have been the best connection we’ve had on that particular play, even when we practice that,” Mitchell said. “We got to the game, perfected it on game day and it got called back.”
Bailey said he started giving Jenkins a hard time shortly after the play ended. It would have been Bailey’s first career interception. Instead, Southern kept the football and received 5 free yards.
“We actually were talking about that towards the end,” Bailey said. “When it happened, I’ve been giving him grief about it. I’m still going to give him grief.”