It took Georgia coach Kirby Smart about 20 seconds to address a big issue in Georgia’s 20-19 win over Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday.
From the start, Georgia was riddled with penalty after penalty and finished with 12 for 127 yards.
The Bulldogs came less than 10 yards shy of setting a school record for the most penalty yards in a game. The record is 134 yards, set against Georgia Tech in 2001. Georgia’s performance Saturday ranks fourth.
“It was very sloppy at times, a lot of penalties,” Smart said. “We made it as difficult as we could make it, which is frustrating, because we got an opportunity to have a good football team. But we’re not going to be able to beat teams that we play down the road if we play the way we played tonight.”
The first one came on Notre Dame’s first drive. A pass from Brandon Wimbush intended for Equanimeous St. Brown on third-and-eight fell incomplete, and Georgia’s Deandre Baker was called for pass interference. The drive ended in a field goal for the Fighting Irish. On the kickoff, Elijah Holyfield broke out for a deep return that as called back due to a holding penalty. On the same drive, Jeb Blazevich was whistled for holding.
Georgia was called for four penalties in the first quarter. In third, the Bulldogs tallied six, including two false starts and two face mask penalties.
Notre Dame finished with eight penalties for 63 yards, including a personal foul and a face mask penalty on a drive that ended with a touchdown for Georgia.
“It’s frustrating to have kickoff returns and holding,” Smart said. “And it was a high penalty game, really both teams, but especially ours. Some of them I call unforced penalties, they’re all disciplined. Hands to the face is not disciplined. Face mask, you’re not disciplined at all. I don’t know if it’s a trend, but they had that called four times in their game last week. So maybe the facemasks got magnets, I don’t know, we keep grabbing them.”