We all saw it. The beatdown that No. 14 Utah put on Florida last night by a final of 24-11 was embarrassing for Gator fans. Even more embarrassing than the play on the field were the penalties, and one in particular belongs in the blooper reel.
With the score still in reach and Florida down 7-3 in the second quarter, the Gator defense forced Utah to punt on fourth and three. Everything looked good for UF until the yellow flag flew. Florida had two players wearing No. 3 jerseys on the field, an equipment violation resulting in a five-yard penalty, which gave Utah a first down.
"Equipment violation on the defense. There were two No. 3s on the field for the Florida team. That penalty is five yards from the previous spot, results in a first down."
This was with Utah punting on 4th-and-3.
Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit explained more. ??? pic.twitter.com/DqSI7UvoFQ
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) September 1, 2023
The penalty was on junior cornerback Jason Marshall and freshman receiver Eugene Wilson, who both were wearing the same number.
After the game, Florida head coach Billy Napier said it was a communication error that cost them. For what it's worth, Napier doesn't have a special teams coach — they have two offensive line coaches, however.
"That's exactly what it is. It is something that we have had in the past, we've worked in the past. We were rotating the punt returner two to one. And we go safe, Jason (Marshall) is out there. We were supposed to get him off," Billy Napier told reporters afterward, via On3. "We just didn't communicate. We're in punt safe. We've got to communicate that better. There's no question that's another thing that we control that we didn't do the right way."
The play was the epitome of Florida's night. The Gators clearly weren't prepared on multiple fronts, and the nine penalties committed added up and hurt Florida.
While many fans have probably never heard of this "same number" penalty, it isn't all that rare.
How Often Does This Penalty Happen?
Have you every seen a two players on the field with the same number penalty or are you not a Vanderbilt football fan
— Milk (@TheConley) October 31, 2020
More than you think, but it's still not common.
During the 2020 coronavirus season, Vanderbilt was called for the same penalty against Ole Miss when two kick returners wore No. 88 on the field. Maryland was called for the same thing against Texas in 2017 on an extra point, a year after refs caught Michigan State wearing two No. 22s. And in 2013, TCU was flagged for the same reason against Arkansas State.
The NCAA allows multiple players with the same number, but most of the time they're split between offense and defense. But when a myriad of players enter the game on special teams, miscommunication can happen.
At this point, it might make more sense for every player to have a different number just to avoid this dumb penalty.
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