Shawn Williams, Georgia’s senior safety, called for his teammates to show more emotion.
They delivered Saturday in a 17-9 upset of then-No. 3 Florida, a game where defensive players ran to the ball and both teams had players that ran their mouths with some jawing.
The Bulldogs made plays all over the field, but also drew penalty flags.
There were 14 in all for a whopping 132 yards, but Georgia coach Mark Richt said he is keeping that in perspective.
“I don’t want to lose intensity,” Richt said. “You want intensity with discipline. I didn’t want to slow down anybody’s ability to keep their blood hot.”
The game included total 24 penalties.
Georgia on Saturday tied for its second-most penalties in a game in program history.
It was also the second most penalty yards after the 134 in another rivalry game, a 31-17 win in 2001 in Richt’s first season.
That win snapped a three-game losing streak to Georgia Tech.
“You don’t want to have a lot of penalties that can hurt you and can cause you to have to punt and let your opponent get in field goal range and make a field goal where they maybe wouldn’t have,” Richt said. “You don’t want that. You don’t want to help the other team at all, but you know emotions were so high and the officials, they were at the heart of it. They knew what was going on and they were trying to do whatever they could to slow it down because they knew that our guys wanted to get after each other.”
The tone may have been set before the game when some players had to separated after teams entered the field. Florida strength coach Jeff Dillman pushed Georgia safety Corey Moore, video showed.
Georgia tailback Todd Gurley drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he did a Gator chomp to Florida fans and then swiped his hands as if to say “no way” after scoring the game’s first points on a 10-yard touchdown run.
Early in the third quarter, Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins was jawing at Tavarres King and got an unsportsmanlike penalty to give Georgia a first down. Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell got his own before coming back to catch a 45-yard touchdown catch.
Devin Bowman got an earful from defensive coordinator Todd Grantham after drawing a flag for a late shove after a Georgia fair catch on a punt.
“That was one of the most intense games I’ve ever coached from start to finish,” Richt said.
That carried over to the chippy play.
“Everybody had a chip on the shoulder,” Mitchell said. “Us. Them. We weren’t going to back down and we knew they weren’t either.”
Said Richt: “How many times have you seen a guy make a play and then stare a guy down there? You usually don’t see a flag on that, but it got to the point where if you did anything like that, a flag was going to fly because they just didn’t want it to escalate.”
Georgia is now 113th in the nation in penalties per game at 8.3, which trails only LSU in the SEC. The Bulldogs are 83rd in the nation in penalty yards per game at 61.25.
“You don’t want to lose yards,” Grantham said. “You’ve got to play when the ball’s snapped to the whistle and then that’s it. Then you’ve got to have enough discipline to walk off the field.”