ATHENS - Mark Richt says he knows one way to make sure his Georgia team plays better than in its deflating loss to Alabama: Cut down on penalties.
The No. 10 Bulldogs rank last among the nation's 119 Bowl Subdivision teams with 53 penalties in five games, an average of 10.60 per game. No other Bowl Subdivision team is averaging as many as 10 penalties per game, according to NCAA's statistics.
Georgia, which plays Tennessee on Saturday, was penalized 10 times for 81 yards in its 41-30 loss to Alabama on Sept. 27.
Richt said he used an open week to make sure his players understand the penalties won't be tolerated. He had a quick answer Tuesday when asked how he is making that point.
'We're wearing them out. I'm wearing them out,' Richt said. 'I'm wearing them out physically for penalties, team and individuals.'
Richt said he regretted not assigning extra running as punishment for penalties earlier in the season.
'Before, I was a little reluctant to make such a strong point,' Richt said, adding he was hesitant to take away 'some aggressive play and that kind of thing.'
'My strategy and my thoughts were wrong,' he said. 'Penalties have not slowed down and have cost us and I did a poor job on the front end of it. We're trying to correct it.'
Georgia ranks 118th with its average of 87.4 penalty yards per game, ahead of only Florida State (90.0).
Richt said Louisiana State and Florida are recent examples of teams who won championships while accumulating high penalty totals. Richt, the former Florida State offensive coordinator, says he remembers the Seminoles 'were the worst in the league in penalties every year' when they ruled the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Georgia's penalty count against Alabama included two 15-yard personal fouls for late hits to the quarterback. Each penalty assisted the Tide on touchdown drives.
Alabama had only 2 penalties for 9 yards in the game.
'They did not beat themselves that day,' Richt said. 'They beat us, but we helped them by not being disciplined on the penalty issue as we should.'