UGA defenders happy to see targeting rule tweaked

What’s done is done, but Ramik Wilson is happy to see that the NCAA Football Rules Committee made a change to the targeting rule that impacted Georgia in a big way last season in a loss at Vanderbilt.

AJ Reynolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto
Georgia safety Corey Moore (39) walks off the field with teammates during the first half of the NCAA football game between Georgia and Appalachian State in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. Corey Moore returned to the sidelines for the remainder of the half despite being ejectd for targeting earlier in the game.

“It’s good for the future now, but you can’t overturn what happened,” the Bulldogs senior inside linebacker said.

Last month, the rules committee dealt with a controversial proposal that would to put the brakes on hurry-up offenses, but that committee also backed a targeting rule change, which was approved earlier this month.

Wilson was called for a targeting penalty against Vanderbilt, but a replay official overturned the call.

Wilson’s automatic ejection was overturned, but the 15 yards were still marked off and Vanderbilt scored a touchdown in a 31-27 Georgia loss.

Now, if the review in the booth determines a targeting penalty should be reversed, the 15 yards won’t be marked off unless another personal foul was also called on the play.

The Southeastern Conference backed the adjustment to the rule.

“When you look at it, that should have been the rule from the beginning,” Georgia cornerback Damian Swann said. “Not to insult anybody but you don’t want to cost people games and then go back and change the rule. Not just our game but I think that would have hurt a lot of people throughout the country. Everbody’s human, everybody makes mistakes and we’re glad they got it corrected.”

Targeting was emphasized last season in an effort to improve player safety and the automatic ejection added to a penalty already in place.

Wilson was called for targeting Vanderbilt’s Jonathan Krause on a fourth-down incompletion in the fourth quarter.

“When they made that correction, I was like this was a couple of months too late,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “The fact they didn’t think of that when they first put the rule out, I feel like that’s their apology and that’s a weak apology to us with that rule.”

Said Wilson: “I’m glad they can overturn it now so it won’t hurt teams at all. It’s for best.”

Defensive end Ray Drew was ejected in the same game on a targeting penalty after hitting quarterback Austyn-Carta Samuels. Safety Corey Moore was ejected for targeting on a sideline hit against Appalachian State on Nov. 9.

Players say new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who has spent the first two weeks of spring practice installing his new system, hasn’t spent time on the targeting rule so far in practice.

“We’re still going over the basics,” defensive end Josh Dawson said. “We’re still trying to get everything set down, the foundation down, so we really haven’t gone over the rules.”

The proposed 10-second rule, which would have penalized teams for snapping the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock, was not enacted.

But defenses will have to continue be on the ready for fast-paced offenses.

Pruitt’s simplified calls — as well as players having more responsibility to know the play calls — could help Georgia handle getting lined up quicker.

“If we get stuck out there in a defense we don’t want, we could adjust to it,” Jenkins said. “We know naturally what defense to go to. Say we want to be in nickel and we’re caught out there in base, he’s got a way that he’s doing it.”

Swann said he would have liked the adoption of 10-second rule, but expressed confidence that Georgia can handle up-tempo offenses, or any offenses for that matter, after spring and preseason practices.

“Once we get every guy to know exactly what he needs to do on what play, I think we’ll be able to line up and play with the hurry-up, the power game, with the pro-style, with the triple-option, it doesn’t matter,” Swann said.
“Once every guy learns what they need to learn, we’ll be good.”

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