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FSU starter suspended for 1st half vs. Bama because of 2016 targeting call

A wrinkle in the potential game of the year.

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Michigan vs Florida State
Florida State’s Trey Marshall leaving the Orange Bowl last December, after he was ejected for targeting.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

There’s quite possibly never been a bigger opening-week college football game than the one Alabama and Florida State will play Sept. 2 at Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Every indication is that this’ll be a top-five game by preseason rankings, with a chance that it’s something like No. 1 vs. No. 2. (Alabama might be the top-ranked team before games start, what with Clemson losing Deshaun Watson and all.) College GameDay will be on the scene with its first on-site broadcast of the season.

On defense, FSU isn’t going to enter at full strength. Because of a second-half targeting ejection in last season’s Orange Bowl win against Michigan, senior safety Trey Marshall will be suspended for the first half under NCAA rules.

The targeting call that kicked this off came after Marshall leveled a Michigan punt returner in the Orange Bowl’s fourth quarter:

The NCAA’s targeting rule says that a targeting disqualification after halftime means a suspension for the player’s next game, so this was already expected, even though it’s now a new season.

Here’s Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher, via 247Sports:

"He will," Fisher said when asked if Marshall would miss the first half. "And we're trying to vote on that too [at the ACC Spring Meetings]. I think that's crazy. No other sport, I don't know a sport, you have those red cards in soccer, they don't follow you year-to-year. But it is what the rule is now.

Fisher wants that rule changed and said the ACC wanted to bring the idea to the NCAA’s Football Rules Committee. Any change will be too late for Marshall, though.

Marshall has 18 career starts to his name, and he’s a potentially important piece to this year’s FSU defense. He figures to spend most of the year playing opposite safety Derwin James, who was supposed to be great last season but was derailed by injury. If James is back and healthy, losing Marshall for a bit is less of a big deal.

Marshall’s better against the run than the pass, says my colleague Bud Elliott, who’s covered FSU throughout his career. Alabama enjoys running the football, you have probably heard, so the loss of a run-stopping safety is not a good thing for the Noles.

Per the NCAA rulebook, Marshall will be allowed to participate in the pregame warm-up. In the first half, he “must remain out of view of the field of play under team supervision.” He can make his entrance to the field with the rest of his teammates after the half.