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Both these huge A&M-Bama hits were targeting. The one against Bama wasn't called

Yes, targeting can be called on hits against players who aren’t defenseless. Read the rule below.

Freshman Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson laid out Texas A&M wide receiver Speedy Noil with this hit during a first quarter kick return:


The play was not flagged by officials on the field or in the review center.

Noil was checked for a concussion by A&M medical staff afterward.

Noil was carrying the ball and was not a defenseless runner, a term that includes players like mid-throw quarterbacks or mid-catch wide receivers. According to CBS, the SEC’s Birmingham review office said the play wasn’t targeting because it didn’t involve a defenseless player.

Part of the NCAA’s targeting rule does refer to defenseless players, but using the crown of the helmet to hit another player in the helmet is supposed to be targeting even if the player has the ball.

Here’s the other part of the NCAA’s rule:

No player shall target and make forcible contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting. When in question, it is a foul.

Not a word about “defenseless” in there.

Those indicators include:

Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet.

Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area

Again, nothing about “defenseless.”

Here’s where “defenseless” does appear:

No player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder

They’re essentially two different rules on the same penalty.

Later in the game, Bama’s Damien Harris caught a helmet shot to the side of the head while engaged with a ball carrier. This time, Donovan Wilson was ejected and the Aggies were penalized 15 yards.


Both were clearly targeting. Only the road team was penalized.