Helmet-to-Helmet Contact | Sharapova's Thigh

We are through one weekend of college football. There were some expected results, the rare surprise and the occasionally bizarre. Standard weekend of college football. Fantastic.

One thing that is not so fantastic is Big XII referees' collective understanding of the helmet-to-helmet contact. Twice this weekend Big XII crews inexplicably blew the helmet-to-helmet contact call and possibly altered the course of the game.

I understand the rule: its spirit and its purpose. Helmet-to-helmet contact contact is probably the most dangerous play in football. As such the play has been emphasized. Importantly, the rule, listed in its entirety below, contains the term, "When in question, it is a foul."

The Rule:

Initiating Contact/Targeting an Opponent

ARTICLE 3. a. No player shall initiate contact and target an opponent with
the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul.

b. No player shall initiate contact and target a defenseless opponent
above the shoulders. When in question, it is a foul. (Refer to Points of
Emphasis for a description of “Defenseless Player.”)

The ineptitude:

The Oklahoma State / Georgia clash was one of most anticipated match-ups of the weekend. It was a tightly contested game. Early in the 4th Quarter with Okie State leading 17-10 Cowboys QB Zac Robinson aired it out deep over the middle looking for freshman Wide Receiver Justin Blackmon on a crucial 3rd down play.

Georgia Safety Reshad Jones knocked the living crap out of Blackmon. Jones arrived a split second after the ball and knocked the ball out of Blackmon's hands with a shoulder to chest hit.

Jones was incorrectly flagged. Oklahoma State got a 1st down and 3 plays later Robinson hit star Wide Receiver Dez Bryant on a 10 yard slant for a TD putting the game out of reach.

Of course this was only 1 of 3 instances in this game. Georgia Fullback Sean Chapas was hit square in the skull by Cowboys safety Lucian Antoine. No penalty.

Later in the 4th Quarter Chapas was nailed by Patrick Lavine after the ball had sailed 10 feet over his head. No penalty. This last play fell under the defenseless player rule and not the helmet-to-helmet rule, but the call was still blown.

Last night Colorado State came out and whooped Colorado. Colorado was booed off of their own field at halftime. Colorado came back in the second half and scored on their opening drive. They got a stop and looked like they were about to go in for another score to make it a field goal game with over 20 minutes remaining.

Then CU fumbled. Of course the fumble was caused by helmet-to-helmet contact, but only the fumble mattered. CU receiver Scotty McKnight was running a deep cross when he made a leaping grab of a poorly thrown pass from Cody Hawkins. McKnight landed and was leveled by Rams safety Elijah-Blu Smith. McKnight fumbled, CSU recovered and the momentum was gone.

After seeing numerous replays I still can't tell whether Smith's helmet glanced off of McKnight's shoulder pad before hitting him in the helmet. Most importantly, at live speed you could still see McKnight's head snap back. With the part of the rule reading, "When in question, it is a foul" it seems that it should have been a penalty and therefore not a fumble.

CU still had ample opportunity to come back and win. Furthermore, when you are as soundly whooped as CU was in the first half you don't deserve to win.

On the other hand, it was a bad call that did change the flow of the game. So was the penalty on Reshad Jones. It's not right when the zebra's make bad calls that alter the game.

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