Through the first three games of the season, penalties, especially on the offense, haven’t been much of a problem.
Of Alabama’s 13 penalties on the season, which at 4.3 flags a game ranks third in the conference and tied for 17th nationally, only three have been on the offense and only one on the offensive line.
Compared to the same point a season ago, that sum is paltry.
Through the first three games of the 2016 season, the offense committed 20 penalties, including 12 false starts and four holding calls. This year, the offensive line has committed just one penalty in three games and it came in the first game of the season against Lester Cotton on a holding call.
What’s the difference? Attention to detail, players said.
“We’ve been very disciplined this offseason, trying to eliminate those penalties,” senior center Bradley Bozeman said. “It used to be, when we jumped offsides, you’d have to run a lap. That was the preseason. Those laps suck. When you jump offsides, you run a lap and by the time you get back, it’s time to go again. I think that really helped. That was one of our key things to work on this offseason and I think we’ve done a good job with it and hopefully we’ll continue that.”
Bozeman had to run one lap due to a snap infraction during the “preseason,” and it was enough for him to learn his lesson.
It’s a lesson that seems to have carried over to the entire offensive line.
The low point came a season ago with 12 penalties in the second game (25 through the first three games) of the season against Western Kentucky with 11 of those against the offense and seven against the offensive line (five false starts and two holding calls).
It’s not just the offensive line that is limiting the flags. Overall the team has committed 13 infractions that have been accepted by the opponent. That’s nearly half the penalties through the same point last season.
That’s progress, but as Alabama coach Nick Saban was quick to point out after analyzing the Colorado State film, it’s still not where it needs to be, especially on the defensive end.
“We had three penalties that gave them first downs on third down in really critical situations on critical drives, especially in the fourth quarter,” Saban said. “We need to do a better job in those areas. I think we’re very capable of doing that and will continue to work on it.”
The teams’ 4.3 penalties per game is on pace to be nearly 20-25 fewer flags this season than in 2016 and 2015.
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.