I applaud the underlying sentiment, but here in a nutshell is what concerns me about the new targeting rules:
The big hit from the talented freshman created big buzz this spring.
Georgia safety Tray Matthews delivered it on wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley during a closed team scrimmage. It not only got the attention of teammates but officials on hand.
“He got about eight flags on it,” cornerback Sheldon Dawson said. “Sometimes the adrenaline and the rush leads you to do certain stuff like that. Sometimes you don’t think, you just go.”
It was an example of how college football’s new targeting penalty meant to improve player safety could impact the game.
Linebacker Amarlo Herrera said when he watched a replay of the hit, Matthews should not have actually been penalized on the play because he delivered the hit to the chest, but full-speed it might have looked different.
“It’s the interpretation of the guys on the field that you have to be aware of,” secondary coach Scott Lakatos said.
There’s a part of me that thinks the coaches and players are going to do a better job of preparing for the impact of the changes than officials will and that we’re going to be subjected to a series of Pavlovian responses – flags and ejections, in simple English – every time somebody gets blown up on the field, regardless of how the hit was actually delivered. That’s the logical response to expect from people who have had this matter stressed to them for months and who are expected to react immediately to plays made by people who are bigger, stronger and faster than they are.
And then there’s this.
The disqualification can be overridden by a replay official, but the 15-yard penalty will remain.
“It’s like a normal instant replay,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I was thinking that maybe a play was run, there’s a commercial break, you could look at it for five minutes if you want and then decide, ‘Hey, the guy’s back in.’ They have to decide in the same time frame of a normal replay.”
Added Lakatos: “We’re trying to make sure that we understand what the officials on the field are going to do because they’re the guys that are being asked to make the decision. They have to make the decision in a snap. They don’t have the benefit of watching it on video.”
That’s a lot of pressure for a snap judgment. Then, again, maybe Penn Wagers will call things right from the get go.