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The Targeting Rule HAS To Change

The Kentucky Wildcats were haunted by the targeting rule all night against Florida in its 29-21 defeat at Kroger Field. The rule sparked tons of controversy across the country, as two Cats and one Gator were ejected from the game on absolutely terrible calls.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying the targeting calls weren’t targeting, according to the rule. Based on the language of the rule, all three players should have been ejected from the game. The problem is simply that the rule needs to change. Officials should be given more discretion in deciding whether a player should really be penalized and/or ejected from a game – and possibly suspended for part of the next game – based on the helmet-to-helmet hit.

There should be a discernible difference in calls based on the intent of players. This rule is meant to keep players safe. I understand that. What I don’t understand is penalizing players when they can’t avoid the helmet-to-helmet hit. If you’ve ever played football, you know how hard it is to adjust when you’re about to hit a player and he suddenly ducks his head or shifts in a way that forces you to hit them head on.

Saturday night, a targeting call forced UK’s starting safety and defensive tackle out of the game. Yusuf Corker was ejected in the first quarter and TJ Carter was sent packing in the fourth, which ended up being a pivotal moment in the game.

The ruling on Carter was the most egregious, as the quarterback was being slung around and ended up dropping his head at the last second, forcing Carter to hit him helmet-to-helmet.

This should’ve been a second down sack and a game-changer for Kentucky. Technically, I guess it could still be considered a game changer. The rule led to a 15-yard targeting penalty, an automatic first down, and an ejection for Carter. Florida took the lead and never looked back after this drive.

Again, I know under the rule that this is targeting. The problem is the rule itself. TJ Carter’s intent wasn’t to target or hurt the quarterback; it was incidental contact. This rule won’t deter Carter from tackling like this in the future. He was looking to properly tackle Florida’s quarterback, and instead, because of one bad move by the quarterback himself, he was ejected and his team may have lost because of it.

The rule has to change, and it has to change now.


Article written by Nick Wheatley

10 Comments for The Targeting Rule HAS To Change

  1. Cmart0907
    2:08 pm September 15, 2019 Permalink

    These coaches in their inept ability to change their game plan is what need to be change.

  2. Chagan02
    2:15 pm September 15, 2019 Permalink

    The targeting rule is much like many others, sounds great in theory, but the unintended consequences aren’t thought through. This rule is really hurting college football. It’s a no win situation.

  3. JASUN74
    2:39 pm September 15, 2019 Permalink

    Nick the only thing that lost this game is with 2:30 to go before halftime, we had all the momentum and confidence in the world, we was up with the ball and was going to get the ball back first in the second half!! Oh we also had a couple timeouts!!!! What did we do you ask? Well we pretty much took a damn knee and ONLY WANTED TO run out the clock!! That’s what we call in my neighborhood as” HAVING NO NUT SACK”. I could just see the air come out of the fans and I knew the game was over at that point.

    Saying all that, I love my cats and all the played their tails off. It’s a shame they had to lose like this.

  4. dckr
    2:42 pm September 15, 2019 Permalink

    The targeting rule and the tv time outs are ruining the college football experience. The nfl has it figured out time wise. Their games are always 3 hours on the money. And the problem with the targeting rule is that it contradicts the natural instinct of the game.

    • bbn606
      9:23 am September 16, 2019 Permalink

      Every player that makes contact leads with their head unless they are pushing someone out of bounds.

  5. makeitstop
    3:17 pm September 15, 2019 Permalink

    Can we please stop saying maybe this was technically targeting – it wasn’t. He did not lead w the crown of his helmet or launch w force to head or neck. TJ especially made the tackle he’s taught to make. The QB is at that time a runner. Not a defenseless player. He’s a big, fast QB trying to avoid a sack and two large men are trying to sack him. He’s being wrapped up but isn’t down and TJ never changes his trajectory, never lowers his head and hit him in the chest while wrapping him up. This may come as a surprise to some but the head is on top of the body and it will not move from there to avoid getting to a spot first! TJ has his hands out to make a tackle not hit the head or neck. He does so. There is almost no way that tackling technique could be improved. In fact the QB drops his head just bf contact. He’s not “leading” w his head either he’s going into a shell like a turtle, to protect himself. And if TJ wanted to hurt him he would be hurt… but he tackled him w his arms and body instead. For those of you who have never hit a moving quarterback let me clear this up – they are trying to get away and you are trying to catch them And in case you can’t read a box score more often than not they do get away making it more urgent to catch them!! Defenders are required to refrain from leading w the crown and doing things that look like targeting but They are neither required nor capable of being clairvoyant as to what the quarterback’s next move is in the nanoseconds before impact. Maybe if we had better (professional) referees and not graduates from a rival conference school making part time money in charge of these calls they would improve. Frankly if you get one or two bad calls it looks like bad luck, but where you have a string of bad calls in multiple years it begins to look like something more nefarious. This was a really bad call in a series of bad or missed calls and if it doesn’t warrant investigation from the NCAA in the SEC then they are too stupid to earn the money we send them.

    4:13 pm September 15, 2019 Permalink

    Just put a skirt and a belt with a flag on players. Problem solved…

  7. hillbilly cat
    7:09 pm September 15, 2019 Permalink

    Go back to leather helmets. That would eliminate the leading with your helmet.

  8. UKinIN
    9:49 pm September 15, 2019 Permalink

    Forgot the targeting calls. Is there a team that gets more holding “no calls” than UK? What about the intentional grounding that wasn’t called? UK made plenty of mistakes, shame the refs did too.

  9. bbn606
    9:20 am September 16, 2019 Permalink

    We have to recruit players that can arm tackle. Did I just that. Two hand touch is coming to a college stadium near you very soon.