MADISON - Instituted with automatic ejection beginning in 2013, college football’s targeting Rule 9-1-4 was the hot button topic of Wisconsin’s 28-3 victory over Troy Saturday, as the Badgers saw starting inside linebacker Leon Jacobs and starting nickel corner Derrick Tindal both ejected.
Jacobs was ejected in the first quarter for a hit on Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers, while Tindal was shown the gate near the end of the third quarter for a forearm to receiver Ismail Saleem’s helmet. Because the foul occurred in the second half, Tindal will miss the first half of next weekend’s primetime game against Hawaii.
“Our job is to play football, so some calls might be here and there,” said junior cornerback Sojourn Shelton. “Only thing we can do is continue to press forward and handle what’s in front of us, and that’s moving onto the next play.”
The officiating crew assigned to the game was a mixture of Big Ten and Mid-American Conference officials. The head official was from the Big Ten Conference.
According to the college football rule book, Rule 9-1-4 (targeting and initiating contact with the crown of the helmet) states, “no player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet.”
That was the case with Jacobs, who buried his helmet into the chest of Silvers, a hit that popped off Silvers’ helmet on a first-and-10 pass play.
“With a quarterback, any forcible contact to the head or neck area is targeting,” referee Jeffery Servinski told a pool reporter. “So he’s in a defenseless mode, because he had just thrown the ball. It was not roughing the passer, because of the timing of it. So roughing the passer was not on the table. But the contact was to the head or neck area, so we need to look at was it forcible contact to the head or the neck. It was determined that it was.”
The same rule was applied to Tindal, who contacted Saleem’s helmet with his left forearm/shoulder as the Troy freshman was going low to make a catch.
“When you talk about targeting, helmet, forearm, shoulder, anything from that perspective that targets into the head or neck area, it’s a foul,” said Servinski. “So from replay’s perspective, they just needed to make sure that there’s forcible contact to the head or neck area with a shoulder, forearm or head.”
The calls, particularly the second one, drew a loud vocal displeasure from the Camp Randall crowd, which consistently booed for several minutes following the play and into the fourth quarter. While head coach Paul Chryst admits there is gray era in the rule, he acknowledge that officials are usually going to err on the side of player safety.
“There's no doubt that every coach that I know wants to -- and this is for all rules, to make this game safer, no question,” said Chryst. “We have taken a lot of pride in coaching good football … It's a physical game. We want to make sure we're doing it the right way and take pride in that.”
ORR STEPS IN
In place of Jacobs, true freshman Chris Orr stepped up in a big way with a game-high 14 tackles (11 solo). After playing sparingly during the first two games to spell Jacobs, Orr - who also recorded his first ever tackle for loss - asserted himself in both stuffing the run and in coverage with a number of stops in short-yardage situations.
“He showed up in the run game, and I know he made a big stop on a pass breakup on a third down, and it was good for him,” Chryst said. “I'm sure he'll look -- last week, it was alternating. This week he was able to because of circumstance, played a lot. He showed up and it was good I think.”
Stepping in for Jacobs created a familiar feel for Orr, who got major reps last month when Jacobs went down with a toe injury. A former three-star linebacker from Desoto, TX, Orr took advantage of the opportunity and was one of the standouts with his ability to pick up the playbook, read and react and deliver a hit.
“It helped me a lot, to be honest,” said Orr. “That was a big shocker coming in. I didn’t expect those guys go down the first day of pads, not even full pads. Being thrown into fire and responding to adversity.”
KAPOI GETS FIRST START
The rotation on the right side of Wisconsin offensive line continued Saturday but this move wasn’t by choice. With Walker Williams out with an ankle injury, redshirt freshman Micah Kapoi got his first career start at right guard.
Kapoi first jumped on to the radar during Wisconsin’s fall camp scrimmage Aug.22, taking the majority of the reps at left guard with the first-team offense in place of senior Ray Ball. Ball has yet play this season with an arm injury, making an already young offensive line even younger.
The redshirt freshman made his collegiate debut in the Badgers’ 58-0 victory over Miami University last weekend, playing 38 snaps in a right guard rotation that moved Williams to right tackle in place of Hayden Biegel.
“It was great getting my feet wet, just feeling how college football games are played,” said Kapoi. “Getting out there and running around, feeling the crowd noise and how they factor into it, it was a great experience for me and helped me out a lot.”
With Williams out, redshirt freshman Jacob Maxwell rotated in at tackle with Biegel.
“We practiced all week with both of the switching in,” said Kapoi. “It really wasn’t a hard transition for any of us because we played with each other all week. It was a good feeling having them in.”
EXTRA POINTS: Senior linebacker Kellen Jones, who transferred from Clemson right before the start of fall camp, has left the team, according to Chryst. No reason was given. Jones had played in the first two games of the year … Wisconsin’s win made them the eighth Power Five program to win 100 games since the start of the 2005 season … The Badgers’ defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown since the 8:02 mark of the fourth quarter in the season opener.