By all accounts, Georgia strength and conditioning coach Scott Sinclair is well-liked and a favorite among Bulldog players.
But this week, his name hasn't been one players, like linebacker Natrez Patrick, want to hear.
“Hearts drop instantly as soon as he (head coach Kirby Smart) calls those names,” said Patrick.
With a week-long focus on eliminating some of the penalties made by the Bulldogs in the first two weeks, it’s been Sinclair’s job to offer "gentle reminders" to offending parties after practice not to repeat those same types of mistakes.
Players called for penalties during that day’s practice are told to report to Sinclair immediately afterward for some “additional training.”
“They’ll write it (name) down and, for example, if I got one, it’s 'John Atkins, go see Coach Sinclair after practice,’” Georgia’s nose guard said. “They've upped the ante. If you got a penalty, it’s double the running.”
Although Smart obviously loves the aggressiveness he’s seeing from his team, particularly on defense, and doesn’t want to limit that in any way, penalties which result from a lack of focus are ones he’s determined to fix.
Take last Saturday’s game at Notre Dame, for example.
The Bulldogs were flagged 12 times for 127 yards, with seven of those penalties resulting in first downs for the Fighting Irish.
In two games, Georgia has been penalized 20 times for 173 yards heading into Saturday night’s contest against Samford (7:30 p.m., SEC Network Alternate).
“We certainly feel like we’ve been aggressive on special teams and we’ve had some penalties in those areas. We’ve had some unfortunate ones with hands to the face. I don’t necessarily call all of them undisciplined,” Smart said. “When you think our team is being undisciplined and they have a lot of penalties, some of those penalties are not undisciplined, they’re aggressive. I don’t go after aggressive penalties all the time because I think you can coach caution in your players.”
Sinclair is helping Smart do exactly that.
“They just want us playing more disciplined football, more technique, hands inside, no silly penalties, no offsides,” Patrick said. “Since they upped the ante on the punishment for the penalties during practice, that’s definitely a big encouragement not to get those penalties.”
According to Patrick, five Bulldogs were called out by Smart after Wednesday’s practice and told to meet with Sinclair.
“It (fixing penalties) has been a focus. It’s not a huge deal yet. We’re only two games in and it’s something we can fix. It’s good to catch it now at the beginning of the season,” tight end Charlie Woerner said. “Sometimes we think Coach Smart tells them (the refs) to call penalties even when it’s really not. We joke about that a little bit, but they try to make it as real as possible.”