UCLA football has seen more than its fair share of targeting calls this season. Here’s a full timeline of every targeting play and what people had to say about it after the fact.
UCLA vs Hawai’i, Sept. 9
In the first quarter, senior linebacker Kenny Young was in pursuit of Hawai’i’s Kaiwi Chung as he darted down the right sideline. Young sustained a helmer-to-helmet contact from from Rainbow Warriror Metuisela ‘Unga, who came at Young from his left.
Young’s eyes were fixed on Chung – the ball carrier – so he didn’t see the hit coming. This was the only play featured in this story for which a targeting penalty was not called.
In the fourth quarter, junior linebacker Josh Woods came across the middle and finished a tackle that junior defensive back Nate Meadors had already started in the end zone. Woods knocked the ball loose, and the drive ended with a turnover on downs.
What was said
“I probably shouldn’t tell you what I think,” said coach Jim Mora after the game.
“I think it’s horrid. I think it’s it’s an awful rule quite frankly. That you take a young man who’s just playing football hard at full speed, and Josh (Woods) is anything but a dirty player, he’s not a dirty player at all. He makes a clean hit.”
Mora went on to criticize the targeting rule as a whole, not just the specific instance.
“I don’t think it deters anybody from anything. Those guys are out there, they’re laying it on the line every down. Like I said, I don’t think that college players go out there with the intent to play dirty. Or the intent to target.”
With respect to the play involving Young, the Pac-12 issued a statement two days after the game, acknowledging that the officiating crew made an error and should have called targeting.
UCLA at Memphis, Sept. 16
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa barreled through the Tigers’ offensive line and got to the quarterback, but failed to lower his head. The result was a helmet-to-helmet contact that sent the opposing passer to the ground a split-second after he threw downfield.
What was said
“There’s no question – (Odighizuwa) cannot bring the helmet up into that neck or head area. (He) clearly puts his head down and puts it right through it,” said ESPN commentator Anthony Becht. “I’m amazed, all you have to do is take that lower, right through his gut area, and just knock him, and you’ll do just as much damage with the lower-body hit as you would upper body. An easy call for the referee.”
UCLA at Stanford, Sept. 23
Redshirt junior defensive back Adarius Pickett lowered himself to tackle a Stanford receiver in the first quarter, but that receiver lowered his head, too. The players’ helmets collided just before the receiver was brought to the ground.
Stanford also committed a targeting penalty. In the fourth quarter, safety Alijah Holder lowered himself to push redshirt senior Eldridge Massington out of bounds.
What was said
Pickett took to Twitter shortly after he made it to the locker room.
“I get kicked out the game because I’m hitting too hard against a guy that is 6’6 are you kidding me,” the tweet read. “Tell me how I’m suppose to play please.”
Mora said he understood the emphasis on player safety, but he thinks that the right mix still needs to be found.
“Their guy got ejected and our guy got ejected and I was standing right there for both of them and they were just football plays,” Mora said. “They were just simply football plays. That’s hard.”
UCLA vs Colorado, Sept. 30
The Colorado receiver had barely touched the ground by the time freshman defensive back Darnay Holmes pushed his shoulder into the receiver’s chest, sending him flying backwards and onto his back with helmets rattling.
What was said
“The targeting penalty on Darnay (Holmes), I think was a good call,” Mora said following the game. “We have to keep player safety at a premium. We have to be careful. We have to teach him to lower his point of aim and keep his head up.”