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Arizona football: Penalties raising a flag

Rodriguez, Cats realize discipline, focus vital to infraction reduction
2012-11-08T00:00:00Z 2013-09-10T15:17:03Z Arizona football: Penalties raising a flagRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 08, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Before he put last weekend's game film away - burning it would have been better - Rich Rodriguez called his team together.

The Arizona Wildcats' first-year coach then replayed each of the 15 penalties that his team committed in last week's loss to UCLA.

"That was probably the most frustrating thing I've had to deal with," Rodriguez said.

The Wildcats are far too sloppy lately. And for a team that has a razor-thin margin for error, it's unacceptable.

The UA has been flagged 29 times for 253 yards in its last two games, a sharp uptick following a disciplined start to the season.

Tra'Mayne Bondurant, the UA's starting "bandit" safety, said many of the penalty problems are fixable.

"You can clean that up easy, by being disciplined," he said. "If you have discipline, you know what you can and can't do. We've just got to stay focused."

Saturday's performance was, Rodriguez said, embarrassing.

Consider: Arizona was penalized 42 times for 355 yards in the first seven games. With another poor performance Saturday against Colorado, the Wildcats (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) would match, if not surpass, those numbers in a three-game span.

Here's a look at Arizona's recent rash of penalties, why it happens and what's next:

Who's doing it: Arizona's offense has been responsible for 17 of the team's 29 penalties over the last two games, with false start (five) and delay of game (three) the most common offenses.

The defense has been flagged 11 times, with an astonishing five of them personal foul penalties. The special teams are responsible for one infraction, a kick-catch interference call against USC.

The Wildcats are averaging 67.56 penalty yards per game this season, making them the nation's 20th-most penalized team.

Strangely, though, the UA is still winning the penalty war. Arizona leads all FBS teams in opponent's penalty yards. Officials have marched off 909 penalty yards against UA opponents, 110 more than the next team, Louisiana Tech.

What it means: Though the aggregate numbers look bad, not all penalties are created equal.

Rodriguez said that he can stomach mistakes made aggressively.

But there are a couple that "were just silly, out of character and something that we are not going to allow to happen," he said.

The six total personal fouls over the last two games seem to be disciplinary in nature, as do the five false starts and three delay of game calls.

"I would be really surprised if the silly penalties happen again," Rodriguez said.

How to fix it: Part of Arizona's problems had to do with their opponents - USC and UCLA were big on both lines, and fast enough that holding, face mask and pass interference penalties were almost expected.

Rodriguez said "three or four" of last week's calls were the result of poor technique - a lineman, for example, let his hands slip from the opponent's chest to his face mask, a penalty.

Then there's the human element. The UA questioned the Pac-12 Conference office for explanations on three or four of last week's calls.

Then the Wildcats moved on to the next week.

"Any player knows that after the play, you let it go. Go out there the next week, have more confidence and do better," Bondurant said. "If you're a football player who thinks about last week, you shouldn't be playing the game."

On StarNet: Chat with Ryan Finley about college football at noon today at live.azstarnet.com

Up next

• Who: Colorado (1-8, 1-5) at Arizona (5-4, 2-4)

• When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday

• TV: FX

By the numbers

42 penalties, 355 yards

The Wildcats' total penalties and yards in their first seven games

29 penalties, 253 yards

Arizona's penalty totals in their last two games, an upset win over USC and a loss at UCLA

Breaking down the breakdowns

Arizona has been penalized 29 times for 253 yards in its last two games. Here's how the flags break down:

5 False start

5 Personal foul, defense

3 Delay of game

3 Holding

3 Illegal block

2 Facemask

2 Offside

1 Illegal formation

1 Ineligible receiver

1 Kick catch interference

1 Pass interference, defense

1 Pass interference, offense

1 Personal foul, offense

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