Berry Tramel breaks down targeting and the details of the NCAA's rules on targeting.
The only difference in targeting rules for the 2013 college football season is the enforcement. Players penalized for targeting now must sit out the rest of the half and the next half, whether it's the second half of the current game or the first half of the next game.
The targeting rules which already were on the books:
Rule 9-1-3: Targeting and initiating contact with the crown of the helmet. No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul.
Rule 9-1-4: Targeting and initiating contact to head or neck area of a defenseless player. No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, fist, elbow or shoulder. When in question, it is a foul.
WHEN TARGETING OCCURS
Ninety-eight percent of target fouls occur on four types of plays:
1. Hits on receivers.
2. Roughing the passer penalties.
3. Hits to the ball carrier, either the quarterback or a runner, in one of two positions, upright or going to the ground.
4. Blindside blocks.
“The first thing you want to do in officiating is take care of the things that most frequently occur,” Big 12 director of officiating Walt Anderson told the officials he was instructing last weekend. “Learn to recognize these types of plays. The possibility of targeting is high. Our attention relative to targeting needs to be high.”
Replay review will play a major role in the targeting enforcement. A few things to know about replay as it relates to targeting:
* Replay cannot create the targeting penalty. In other words, if targeting is not called on the field, it can't be added by a replay official. Which means coaches cannot challenge a no-call on targeting.
* Coaches can challenge a penalty for targeting. However, they can only challenge the disqualification. If the replay official rules it was not targeting, the player is not disqualified. However, the 15-yard penalty stands.
* For the conferences with replay review, there is no appeal process to the conferences or the NCAA. If a flag is thrown for targeting and the ruling is upheld by replay, the offending player is ejected for the rest of that half and the next half, even if it's the next game.
* For conferences without replay review, an NCAA committee has been set up to handle appeals. If the committee rules the infraction was not targeting, the committee can remove the disqualification.
* Referees have been asked to identify the form of targeting, when announcing the penalty. For example, launching, striking the head, leading with the crown. However, upon replay review, that particular offense is not mandatory to uphold the penalty. If striking was announced but replay review shows that launching instead occurred, the disqualification stands.
* Replay officials have been given the same guidelines for identifying targeting — the same high-risk and low-risk indicators — as the on-field officials.
HOW TO SPOT TARGETING
Walt Anderson addressed approximately 330 officials last Saturday during the College Football Officiating clinic at the DFW-North Marriott.
The primary mission of the Big 12's director of officiating was to get the crews from seven conferences up to speed on the targeting penalty.
“When we leave, we want to be very thorough on what is targeting and what is not targeting,” Anderson said.
And there's a science to knowing when to throw the flag for targeting.
Anderson said that on infractions such as holding and pass interference, officials are very strong. They see actions and categorize potential penalties.
“You're looking for actions that might be holding,” Anderson said. “Takedown, grab and restrict, hooking with the arm. We've learned to visually see those acts, then they rise to the level when they materialize to restriction.
“Defensive pass interference, we look for … a grab, an armbar, a cutoff, a hook and turn. Officials are watching those things, that's how we've been trained.
“We've been successful with those two areas, because we've developed criteria, specific things to look for. We want to do the same thing with targeting.”
So guidelines have been written for officials.
Risk of a targeting penalty is high with one or more of these actions:
* Launch: A player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make contact in the head or neck area. “He doesn't have to do this,” said Big 12 officiating director Walt Anderson. “Totally preventable if we can change the way our players are playing at certain times of the game.”
* Thrust: A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with contact at the head or neck area — even though one or both feet are still on the ground. “The difference (from launch) is, the player doesn't leave his feet,” Anderson said.
* Strike: Leading with the helmet, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with contact at the head or neck area. “Not necessarily launching or thrusting upward, but intentionally attacking the head and neck area,” Anderson said. “You're not trying to block the pass. You're trying to get the quarterback out of the game. Your six seconds of glory are either going to cost you this game or the first half of the next game.”
* Crown: Lowering the head before attacking by initiating contact with the crown of the helmet. “Rather than go head up, he lowers the head,” Anderson said.
Risk of a targeting penalty is low with these indicators:
* Head up: Heads-up tackle in which the crown of the helmet does not strike above the shoulders. “This is what we're telling players: you gotta have your head up,” said Big 12 director of officiating Walt Anderson. “If the head is up, and the contact low, it's not a foul, unless it's late.”
* Wrap up: Sort of self-explanatory. Tackle, don't attack, with your arms. “Typically when players use their arms, they're not physically thinking of knocking this guy's head off, much less likely to be committing a targeting type act,” Anderson said.
* Head to side: Basically leading with the shoulder, rather than using the head to initiate contact. Anderson admits it can be a fine line for a player. “It's the intent of what he wants to do,” Anderson said. “Players can learn to do these things.”
* Position change: Incidental helmet contact that is not part of targeting but is due to the players changing vertical positions during the course of play. “You get a defender who's committed, trying to turn his head, trying to hit him low,” Anderson said. “But the receiver lowers his head. It's like two bull rams, hitting head to head. Does that mean every time a receiver changes position, he can't be targeted? No, but it's something we're going to have to consider.”