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Purdue Football: What Exactly is Targeting Then?

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David Blough got hit today which was clearly targeting, but was reversed, so what the heck?

Illinois v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Our fearless leader, a guy who was running away with the starting job finally, was hurt today. Now, the targeting isn’t what injured him - to an extent - it was an ankle, that Coach Brohm hinted was a dislocation.

But, on the same play, Blough was hit to the head, not once, but twice. It was initially called targeting, but then was overturned. It ensued with the entire student section chanting Bull S**t. Which, well, it really was.

Caleb Noe, from WLFI, tweeted out a slow motion video of the hits.

On the hit, the first player, while hitting helmet to helmet, was not deliberately trying to lower the crown of his helmet. The 2nd hit, which was the obvious targeting call. #7 for Illinois, came flying in late, lowered his head and hit with the crown of his helmet.

This rule in college football is one of the most inconsistently called penalties in the entire nation. If you remember correctly, against Louisville, Lorenzo Neal Jr. was called for a targeting penalty, which quite honestly, was not targeting.

Quite the difference in my opinion. The Illinois player was much more malicious in his hit. Lorenzo, pulled off the gas to not hit him as hard. So, what the heck? This is not the only questionable targeting penalty that has affected Purdue’s season, the other is Jacob Thieneman’s against Michigan.

Here is the official NCAA Ruling on targeting calls:

“ No player shall target and make forcible contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (See Note 1 below). When in question, it is a foul.

No player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent (See Note 2 below) with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (See Note 1 below). When in question, it is a foul (Rules 2-27-14 and 9-6). (A.R. 9-1-4-I-VI)

Note 1: "Targeting" means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. Some indicators of targeting include but are not limited to:

  • Launch—a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make forcible contact in the head or neck area
  • A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground
  • Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area

Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet

Note 2: Defenseless player (Rule 2-27-14):

  • A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass.
  • A receiver attempting to catch a forward pass or in position to receive a backward pass, or one who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.
  • A kicker in the act of or just after kicking a ball, or during the kick or the return.
  • A kick returner attempting to catch or recover a kick, or one who has completed a catch or recovery and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.
  • A player on the ground.
  • A player obviously out of the play.
  • A player who receives a blind-side block.
  • A ball carrier already in the grasp of an opponent and whose forward progress has been stopped.
  • A quarterback any time after a change of possession.

A ball carrier who has obviously given himself up and is sliding feet-first”

So, it is clear to me now. The referees in college football have no idea when the heck to call targeting. By reading the definition of targeting from above, today, #7 should have been ejected from the game.

As common fans, we feel like we know what the heck we are talking about. It is such a frustrating penalty, when it is thrown for or against you. Just because in reality, you have no idea if the refs will eject the penalized player or not. Every single time, it is a 50/50 chance, as they have no idea what they are looking for either.

So, how does this get fixed? Is throwing a player out on their first offense a real way to teach them? They have to go directly to the locker room, so there can be no coaching on the sideline. Do you give them another chance? Perhaps suspend them for an entire quarter - 15 minutes - in game so they can be coached up and corrected? Either way, this penalty has to be looked at from the rules committee, it is called wrongly all too often.