There’s one thing that gets under Bakersfield College head coach Jeff Chudy’s skin more than anything, he says. He acknowledges that his players’ skillsets have to improve and their execution could be better, but it’s penalties that disappoint and frustrate him the most.

“The most obvious thing we need to do is we got to eliminate the penalties,” Chudy said. “That’s killing us behind the chains. It’s accountability.”

Through its first five games, BC has been penalized 46 times for a total of 496 yards. That averages out to 9.5 penalties and 99.2 ceded yards per game and makes Bakersfield the 33rd most penalized team in California (out of 68) in terms of yards per game. The worst team in the category, Gavilan, gives up an average of 161.7 yards per game in penalties.

BC has its most important game of the season so far coming up, Chudy said, with conference play starting Saturday as Moorpark (1-4) heads to Memorial Stadium for BC’s homecoming game at 6 p.m. The state-ranked No. 5 Renegades (4-1) can’t afford to keep making costly mental mistakes midway through the year.

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“We’ve stubbed our toe too many weeks now,” Chudy said. “We shouldn’t have done it the last game. Frick, it’s the fifth game of the year and we’re doing stupid things. You know? You can't do that stuff.”

The most glaring infraction came in BC’s only loss of the year at home against Riverside, 28-26. BC mounted a drive from its own 20 with 2:07 left and made it to its 48 before a holding penalty on second down. The error placed the first down marker 20 yards away from the line of scrimmage and forced Bakersfield to use its last timeout with 35 seconds left.

BC managed to get to Riverside’s 37 with two seconds left — too far for a potential game-winning field goal — and ended the game with an interception in the end zone.

Bakersfield College quarterback Brandon Jones is sacked by Riverside defenders during the first half Sept. 16 at Memorial Stadium. Nick Ellis / for The Californian

“All of our coaches want us to be sharper,” quarterback Cesar De Leon said. “We have to know that late in games you can’t have penalties like that.”

In its 21-17 win over El Camino on Sept. 30, BC recovered a fumble at El Camino’s 2 yard line, but an illegal block on second down sent the Renegades back to the 16. The drive ended with a sack, an incomplete pass and a missed field goal.

It kept BC’s lead to just 7-3 heading into halftime.

“It was a penalty on the backside of a running play,” Chudy said. “That should never happen. … We talked about how critical a situation is when you get inside the redzone — no penalties, offensively.”

With 1:03 left in the game, at El Camino’s 26, BC was called for a false start on second-and-6. Two plays later, BC failed to convert on fourth-and-5, giving the ball back to El Camino with 43 seconds to play.

“We would have never had to go back on defense,” Chudy said. “... We talk about how to finish off a game so those things are those are disappointing things.”

On long drives, the Renegades players start to get tired and suffer mental lapses, De Leon said. In the huddle, he reassures his teammates that they’ll get the yards back and often tells his linemen “you owe me one now” to motivate them for the next play.

BC expects a higher level of play from the 18 to 20 players it has in rotation, Chudy said. What it comes down to is accountability for “individual blowups between the ears” and the self-discipline of individual players. Chudy was “fired up” in a speech regarding penalties he ended practice with Friday, De Leon said.

And Chudy addresses the issue bluntly: “We say it the way it is. … We call them out. Those guys gotta be more accountable. Gotta be a smarter football player.”

Jon Mettus can be reached at 661-395-7389. Follow him on Twitter at @jmettus