Targeting the Target Rule

If you have paid attention to any of the talk involved with the University of Georgia’s football team lately, you have definitely heard some things about the targeting penalty. After a season already marred by injuries, the football team suffered another strike this past Saturday at Vanderbilt. Two of Georgia’s best players were called for targeting defenseless players and one of the players, defensive end Ray Drew, was ejected from the game in the second quarter. The call was certainly disputable, and when one watches a replay,  Drew did not seem to target Vandy’s quarterback. It greatly impacted the Dawgs as the game went on, and only one can imagine what the outcome of the game would have been had he played the whole game.

With all of the commotion surrounding the game, and three players in the SEC being ejected for targeting this Saturday, it was certain this would become an ordeal to the public. Targeting is becomming such an issue because there is so much gray area within the rule itself. The NCAA states targeting as such: “Rule 9-1-4. No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder. By rule, when in question, it is a foul. Also note that a replay official must have indisputable video evidence that there was no such contact to overturn the call on the field.” Ray Drew’s play at most looked like he roughed the passer, which is only a fifteen yard penalty, and not a targeting foul. When a targeting foul is called, the player is immediately ejected and the play is reviewed to see if the player did target and if his ejection can be overturned. The biggest complaint with the penalty is that if video confirms that no targeting occured, the penalty still is enforced. That was the case with Ramik Wilson, UGA’s other player called for targeting in the game. After video replay confirmed he did not target Vandy’s receiver on an incomplete fourth down pass, the Commodores were still awarded a first down because of the fifteen yard penalty. It’s crazy that that is allowed to happen, because the officials are essentially saying “hey, we got the call wrong, but we’re still gonna enforce the penalty.”

Coaches are becomming more vocal on the issue, with Mark Richt leading the charge to have the rule changed. He stated his frustrations, saying  “obviously the one on Ramik was a good, clean play, and the officials after reviewing it felt the same way. But because of the rule as it states you still have that fifteen yard penalty, even though the replay official felt it was a good clean play. Whether or not you’re going to review it to let a guy stay in the game because you don’t think it was targeting, then you might possibly take the penalty away as well.” I totally agree with Mark Richt on this, because the way that penalty is enforced is impacting the game’s outcome in such a negative way. I’m all for players’ safety, but when the foul is clearly not a foul and officials are willing to admit that, then don’t enforce a penalty. There is no other foul in football that has that kind of impact on the game. Just ask Ray Drew.

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