I’m going to be out of town tending to some family matters here the next couple days, so I won’t be at Wednesday night’s interviews and am not sure exactly what I’ll have on the blog prior to Saturday’s scrimmage.
In the meantime, I wrote a story on the new targeting rules and how the Hokies, particularly those in the secondary, are reacting to them. The story ran in Roanoke today and will in Norfolk on Thursday. Here’s how it starts:
BLACKSBURG — Earlier this month, an ACC official visited with Virginia Tech to go over some of college football’s new rules, including the sport’s extra emphasis on targeting.
It’s been illegal to purposely launch yourself at an opponent above the shoulders since 2008, worthy of a 15-yard penalty for each infraction. But starting this year, the offending player will also be ejected.
A short video of hits that were deemed legal and illegal helped explain the differences, although there’s plenty of gray area.
“Oh my god, it’s not a big difference at all,” Virginia Tech secondary coach Torrian Gray said. “Some hits that we saw with our eyes — ‘Oh, that was low’ — they said that would have been an illegal hit. It definitely makes it tough. That’s why I say we as coaches have to emphasize it with players.”
It’s a conversation taking place in every locker room in the country. Not that defensive coordinators teach their players to target, but with the consequences so severe, they’re not taking any chances.
“We’ve never taught targeting anybody,” Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “If we collision hit, I’m ticked off, because that’s not what we teach. … I think the deliberate ones, where guys are really trying to decapitate guys, are going to be the ones that will get the calls. After that, I think it’s just going to be football. You’ve got to still be able to play the game.”
The NCAA put together a video on targeting. I wasn’t able to embed it here, but it’s at the bottom of this story on HokieSports.com if you’re interested.