The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

Head and Shoulders


Last updated 10/4/2018 at Noon

It has been nearly two weeks ago when the WSU Cougars came up a bit short against the USC Trojans.

Late in that game as the Cougars were driving for a possible go ahead touchdown or at least a game tying field goal, Coug QB Garner Minshew threw a pass and as he was being held up by a USC defensive lineman, linebacker Porter Gustin hit Minshew from behind with helmet-to-helmet contact.

I didn’t see the play live since I had already gone to bed. But I did see the replay a couple of days later. I had heard about it but when I saw the replay it looked brutal.

To me it could have been a targeting call or at least a late hit on the QB, which would have been a 15-yard penalty in either case.

There was no flag on the play and the Cougars would line up for a field goal attempt that would be blocked. USC would hold on for a 39-36 victory.

On a Pac-12 broadcast the next day the conference commissioner stated that the play had been reviewed not on the field, but in the studios and in the replay booth and it was determined that it was not targeting.

The commissioner commented that it was very, very close to targeting. I’m telling you this because I think it was not smart of him to make a comment like that. He would have been better off saying that the referees and replay professionals determine targeting calls not him.

I think, and this is only an opinion, that the commissioner was covering for the officials. He doesn’t want to say things that would tick off the referees and replay folks.

On Saturday at the Utah-WSU game there was a targeting call on a Cougar defensive back when the Utah QB was running with the ball not in pass mode. They reviewed the play and the DB was assessed the targeting penalty that comes with getting tossed out of the game.

Was it targeting? For sure, but I would argue that it was just as much targeting as the hit laid on Minshew was. The difference is that the commissioner didn’t review the play and say that it was very, very close to not being targeting.

I know this is a very tough call to make and each time it is called it is reviewed. The USC LB hit should have been reviewed for just as much time as the play on Saturday was against the WSU DB. But it wasn’t.

A little earlier in the day I was watching the Eastern Washington (EWU) – Montana State game and in the first half of a very competitive ball game an EWU player was flagged for targeting.

Watching the replay it was obvious that the Eagle player lowered his shoulder, not his helmet when making the tackle. After it was reviewed the flag was picked up and EWU was not penalized.

When the flag was thrown I was a bit miffed that they called a targeting penalty but after it was reviewed I could understand why the referee may have thought it was. The play happened so fast and the player went down so quick that it may have looked like a helmet-to-helmet hit.

I think the referee wanted to err and the side of safety and have the play reviewed. I can live with that even though the Montana State faithful weren’t happy. After all player safety should be first and foremost in a game.

So in two weeks there were two plays in two different games. One was a non-call helmet-to-helmet head shot that was not penalized and the other was a shoulder to body hit that was flagged.

The first one should have been penalized and the second one was a ruled a legal tackle after it was reviewed. Which one made more sense?


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