Dumb penalties and a smart defensive coordinator

I keep trying to temper my enthusiasm over Todd Grantham down, but it’s hard to do it when I read things like this comment:

“You definitely don’t want to beat yourself. You don’t want to give anything away,” Grantham said. “But at the same time, you want to be aggressive in what you’re doing. That doesn’t mean you get penalties. But to say we were penalized (a lot) in Dallas, I don’t think it has any effect, number one, on how we’re going to play in Georgia, and it had no effect on us on how we won the NFC East and finished (high) in defense either.”

No, that’s not a red meat observation.  Just a sharp one.

Emerson hits on a lot of good points in the article, but a couple of things bear repeating.

  • As Matt Hinton has demonstrated, penalties have little correlation with winning percentage.
  • While Georgia ranked last in the SEC in penalty yardage last season, it ranked first in the conference in opponents’ penalty yardage.  The net loss was less than ten yards per game.  (For comparison sake, Auburn was minus-30 in net penalty yardage.)

Guess what?  Grantham knows that.

“You want to play aggressive,” Grantham said. “You don’t want to have dumb penalties. But at the same time you’ve gotta look at correlations. If you don’t beat yourself, then that’s a good thing. In other words you don’t turn the ball over, you don’t give them freebies, you don’t give them penalties like that. However, when you are aggressive and things like that, there’s really been no correlation to winning and losing if you go back and look.”

I love this guy.  He knows what matters.

So, yeah, if they can cut down on dumb penalties, so much the better.  Now if they could only get Mark Curles to do the same…


UPDATE: I always like it when somebody else does the heavy lifting.  Seth Emerson went to the trouble to break down last year’s penalty calls.

OFFENSE (55 percent)
Holding, offense …………..11-110 yards
False start ……………….29-144
Personal foul, offense ……..5-56
Illegal block, offense ……..5-49
Unsportsmanlike, offense ……3-45
Clipping, offense ………….2-30
Delay of game ……………..5-23
Illegal substitution, offense .2-10
Illegal formation, offense ….1-5
Illegal motion, offense …….1-5
Intentional grounding ………1-0

DEFENSE (30 percent)
Defensive pass interference …9-106
Defensive offsides …………10-47
Personal foul, defense ……..5-71
Face mask, defense …………3-33
Defensive holding ………….1-10

SPECIAL TEAMS (15 percent)
Illegal block, .. …………..5-46
Personal foul ………………3-44
Face mask ………………….2-30
Holding ……………………1-10
Illegal formation …………..1-5

Do false starts count as dumb penalties?  I’m thinking yeah.



Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

15 responses to “Dumb penalties and a smart defensive coordinator

  1. To the extent that the NFL is a relevant barometer, Football Outsiders have found that there is a positive correlation between defensive penalties and winning, probably because an aggressive defense is going to get penalized. Offensive penalties, on the other hand, have a negative correlation with winning (especially false start penalties). So, the question is this: did Georgia have a lot of offensive or defensive penalties. FO singles out flase start penalties as being especially correlated with losing.


  2. Brad

    It’s too bad that our defense will take a HUGE step back as we adjust to the 3-4.
    However, look for tech’s defense to be very improved with Al Groh introducing the 3-4 to them.
    At least that’s what I’m hearing about both teams from the “experts”


  3. anon

    Grantham’s Dawg Porn quotes find me beating myself . . .


  4. Brandon

    Grantham unquestionably says the right things and has the right philosophy, I hope he is good at implementing it, that remains to be seen. I still expect there to be a learning curve this year and am tempering my expectations for that but if he can improve the defense just to half way between last year and the BVG standard we’ll be an infinately better football team.


  5. Urban Meyer has herpes (or so I heard)

    Assuming the penalty #’s don’t reside on the extreme end of the bell curve, the correlation between the total number/yardage of penalties to winning % is prety much moot.

    However, those statistics have nothing to do with dumb penalties (false starts ARE dumb, however).

    The inherent “dumbness” of any individual penalty is the degree in which it represents a lapse in training and discipline.

    However, a TRULY “dumb” penalty is all about timing. If, on 3rd down in the 4th Qtr of a close game, you run your opponent out of bounds and then throw him down behind the water bucket table, well friends, you have just witnessed a truly “dumb” penalty.

    I’ve seen us get “dumb” penalties at ALLLL the worng times (many of which were bad calls by the ref, but you gotta stay outta they grey when it’s crucial) and it feels like I stabbed my thigh with a hunting knife.

    God Bless Mrs. Walker!


  6. W Cobb Dawg

    Question – Which category does ‘directional kick out of bounds’ fall under? I thought that would be a substantial number for the special teams.

    The number of penalties sure looks huge. Some of the game replays from previous seasons are almost painful to watch there are so many penalties. As usual it seems, CTG is talking about addressing a problem that has festered for a long time. Yet another wake up call to the coaches that were retained.


  7. It will be interesting to see if the new defense has an affect on *causing* penalties, not just on reducing the ones called on us.

    Grantham’s approach is to be varied and multiple as well as aggressive – keep the QB on edge. Someone is coming on most every play…you just don’t know from where. Will just keeping offenses more on edge lead to more opponent penalties? You have false starts as the line tries to anticipate the pressure. You have holds as they’re caught off-guard by the linebacker they didn’t expect.


  8. shane#1

    It seemed to me that it wasn’t the sheer number of penalties that caused problems for the Dawgs as that the calls came at the worst possible times. I don’t know if that is the case or if I just remember the crucial penalties and forget the ones that didn’t affect the games outcome. Could there have been a lack of work on technique and other fundamentals of football that lead to so many mistakes? False starts uisually happen when an O lineman is trying to get the jump on a D lineman because he is afraid of getting beaten. Confidence in himself and the man beside him will put a stop to thre false starts. The hits out of bounds happen when the defensive player doesn’t know where he is on the field, again, poor fundamentals. I think the pass interference penalties came from a crappy pass defense, which UGA had in spades.


  9. Marc Curles

    BTW, I read your effin’ blog dude…..


  10. JasonC

    When I read Seth’s post earlier today, the false starts were what stood out to me. I mean that is almost 3 per game. If you can cut that down to 5-10 (really) and get rid of the illegal substitution penalties and those other “dumb penalties” which are more the result of poor organization and instruction, then the other stuff is acceptable on a case-by-case basis.