What is targeting? UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall weighs in

bronco mendenhall
Bronco Mendenhall. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Dontayvion Wicks got knocked out of the Louisville game in the first quarter on Saturday on a helmet-to-helmet shot from Yasir Abdullah that was flagged for targeting.

Upon review, the targeting was overturned, but Abdullah was still penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, which gave UVA yards, but didn’t give them back Wicks, who was held out for the remainder of the game in concussion protocol.

Wasn’t the first time this season that a UVA player was the recipient of a helmet-to-helmet shot that didn’t end up in a targeting ejection.

It’s almost as if there’s a little-known codicil in the Faber Constitution or something.

“I’ve had plenty of conversations on the field, and I’m currently at a loss for what the definition is,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Which makes him like the rest of us.

Seriously, why is there even a rule prohibiting helmet-to-helmet contact against defenseless players if it’s not going to be enforced on obvious helmet-to-helmet contact plays?

All we end up with is a two- or three-minute replay review that adds to the end of our day.

“I think everyone wants to get it right. I think the officials really do, and I think the coaches certainly do, and I think the players certainly do, and I think the league offices certainly do,” said Mendenhall, who is “willing to listen, contribute and help define anyway that I can.”

“Really it started with player safety, and so I think first and foremost to protect defenseless players, and yeah, good indications are if there is a hit and contact and it’s head-to-head and there’s a concussion that comes out of it or a player carted off the field, doesn’t mean it’s always targeting, but probably more than likely. There’s lots of variants, and again, everyone is trying to get it exactly right, but we’re not there yet,” Mendenhall said.

So, how do we get there?

“That’s a great question. There is a process, and there’s the rules committee, and then, yeah, there’s a long and also thorough process, and it’s not fast is what we’re finding,” Mendenhall said. “The feedback usually is relevant, and sometimes the feedback isn’t welcome, but when you consider the sources and the variety of sources and the volume of sources that it’s coming from, I think we all just want to get it exactly right.

“We had one in Miami, and we had one in our last game at Louisville, and the officials literally are scratching their head as I’m visiting with them, and so am I, and we’re working together to try to get it right, and we have a ways to go,” Mendenhall said.

Story by Chris Graham

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