Targeting can be a difficult call to get right, but refs now have the added bonus of instant replay to help. During Saturday’s game between Texas A&M and Alabama, it became clear that this is still a work in progress.
A pair of significant calls at the beginning ended up being major momentum changes in the game. Elsewhere, an inability to game plan for perhaps the most talented individual player in college football came back to bite Ole Miss in its matchup against LSU.
Here are the worst things from Week 8’s college football action.
What’s the rule?
As expected, Alabama and Texas A&M played one of the most physical games of the college football season. The tone was set from the start when Texas A&M WR Speedy Noil took back a first-quarter kickoff. The speedster ran out of the end zone and was promptly smacked by special teams linebacker Mack Wilson. On review, the call seemed to be a helmet-to-helmet call.
Because it's Alabama somehow this isn't targeting… ? pic.twitter.com/EwNWqrgHhI
— Buckeye Videos+ (@BuckeyeVideos) October 22, 2016
Bizarrely, the call was not sent to the replay official and the game went on, to the chargrin of most college football fans. Now the call would have been disputed but still likely would not have been the subject of anger had Texas A&M nickelback Donovan Wilson not been ejected for his own targeting call in the second quarter after a Tide turnover.
Damien Harris got simultaneously stiff-armed *and* targeted at the end of that INT. pic.twitter.com/l7N8wioAM9
— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) October 22, 2016
The frustration with college football fans isn’t necessarily that there is targeting, it’s seeing instances like these that should seemingly be judged equally, but have different results. The first play absolutely should have been judged targeting and Wilson should have been thrown out. Oh, and to add to the fun, Texas A&M probably should have been penalized for a hit on Alabama TE O.J. Howard during a touchdown catch, but who even knows the rules anymore?
Alabama fans on that targeting call after getting away with one earlier pic.twitter.com/w8tYbhoRTR
— A Bad Hombre (@_Iwishyouwould) October 22, 2016
Turnovers for days
South Carolina took an impressive 34-14 lead over UMass into the fourth quarter in Columbia, S.C. But over the next few minutes, the game got incredibly sloppy.
UMass punted from its own 14-yard line to Chris Lammons, who fumbled the punt. The ball was recovered by the Minutemen, who took over on the South Carolina 30-yard line. On the second play of the drive, UMass QB Andrew Ford threw the ball right back to Lammons for an interception, which gave the Gamecocks a second wind.
South Carolina drove down the field, going 23 yards on 3 runs from Rico Dowdle. However, on 2nd-and-9, Jake Bentley completed a pass to Deebo Samuel, who fumbled the ball, where it was recovered by UMass. This entire sequence was just seven plays and took less than 3 minutes off the game clock. Ultimately, this extra possession set up a touchdown drive that got the Minutemen right back into the game.
Trying to defend Leonard Fournette
Ole Miss has recruited at a high enough level that it can hang with any team in the nation on offense and defense. However, the Rebels looked like a high school team trying to defend all-world running back Leonard Fournette late Saturday night in Baton Rouge.
Leonard Fournette just killed another manhttps://t.co/ZOr2WhnJPj
— FB4L™ (@FBForL) October 23, 2016
On this play, Ole Miss’ defensive backs fell asleep and allowed Fournette to blow into the second level of the defense, and beyond. Did no one tell Ole Miss that Fournette has the ability to get to different levels of the defense?
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 23, 2016
Fournette accumulated a ridiculous 249 yards on his first 7 carries before Ole Miss finally adjusted. Granted, it was unclear whether Fournette was going to be back, but allowing an LSU-record 284 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17.8 yards per carry in Fournette’s first game back from injury is less than ideal.
— Shehan Jeyarajah (@ShehanJeyarajah) October 23, 2016
Leonard Fournette tonight pic.twitter.com/BCfguqaMHW
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 23, 2016
BREAKING: Leonard Fournette has been charged with murder.https://t.co/S8SE1Va5gY
— Fake SportsCenter (@FakeSportsCentr) October 23, 2016
Moore’s bad day
Missouri wide receiver J’Mon Moore was perhaps the best wide receiver in the SEC through the first few weeks of the season, but now he is struggling to deal with heavier pressure. He was held to just 2 catches in a loss to Middle Tennessee and lost a critical fumble on what was a 40-yard gain.
In the vein of Odell Beckham Jr., Moore ran into the net on the sideline and got all tangled up. The Mizzou beat writers took full notice.
Rough day for J'Mon Moore. Getting bullied by Middle Tennessee corner. Costly fumble. Full speed collision with kicking net.
— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) October 22, 2016
Odell Beckham has a better relationship with the kicking net than J'Mon Moore.
— Brenden Schaeffer (@bschaeffer12) October 22, 2016