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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Oft-penalized Gators seek to reverse worrying trend

Name the infraction, and UF likely committed it.

From minor penalties (false start, offside) to major 15-yarders (kick catching interference, roughing the passer, unsportsmanlike conduct), the Gators made officials work hard at Mississippi on Saturday.

They racked up 14 penalties for 127 yards in a 30-24 win.

The No. 4 Gators (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) will now try to correct a recurring problem.

"Some people say lack of discipline. That's fine," UF coach Urban Meyer said Monday. "Whatever it is, we've just got to get it fixed. It's not acceptable."

Few teams are more penalized than UF.

The Gators rank No. 117 out of 119 Division I-A teams in penalties per game and No. 115 in yards penalized per game. In 2006, they finished No. 118 in penalties.

Meyer said Monday's practice would focus on cleaning up the penalty act.

"We're not a dumb team," Meyer said. "What you saw last week is not the way we play."

ANOTHER ACCOLADE FOR TEBOW: Sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors after accumulating 427 yards of total offense against Mississippi.

"He actually did not have his best game in a lot of ways, but as far as toughness, as far as character, as far as riding that horse, it's as fine a game as I've seen a quarterback play in certain areas," Meyer said. "As far as tenacity and toughness, I know who we were going to go to to win that game."

Tebow lifted the Gators with 27 carries and 34 pass attempts, listing more bullet points on his Heisman Trophy resume.

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His passer rating of 198 ranks him third in the nation, and his seven rushing touchdowns are tied for fourth in Division I-A, ahead of star running backs Darren McFadden (Arkansas) and Mike Hart (Michigan).

NOTEWORTHY: Defensive end Derrick Harvey was the only defensive player to make Champions Club this week. On offense, tackle Carlton Medder, running back Kestahn Moore, fullback Eric Rutledge and Tebow made the list. … Wide receiver Andre Caldwell (sprained MCL) is likely a game-time decision for Saturday's contest against Auburn. … Kicker Joey Ijjas will be held out of practice until Thursday with a quad injury.

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