Notebook: Non-call on targeting confuses Notre Dame

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

It was a vicious hit in the end zone.

Late in Sunday’s night’s loss to Texas, television replays showed that receiver Torii Hunter, Jr., a senior leader of the Notre Dame football team, was laid out by Texas’ DeShon Elliott. Hunter dropped what could have been a touchdown after the collision and lay motionless for a bit.

More replays made it obvious the first contact was helmet-to-helmet, the textbook definition of the targeting penalty. Yet, none of the members of the Atlantic Coast Conference officiating crew threw a flag.

This was the perfect time for a new rule in college football to come into play. In a situation like this, the replay official – in this case, Robert Jordan, who works for the Big 12 – has an opportunity to overrule the guys on the field and make the call, which would lead to a 15-yard penalty and ejection.

But nothing happened.

According to the rule, Irish head coach Brian Kelly was not allowed to challenge the non-call. With Hunter on the ground, there was plenty of time for the replay official to consider it.

“We sent the clip to the supervisor of officials with the ACC and we got confirmation back that that would have most likely have been a targeting call,” Kelly said Monday. “We just don't understand why that was not reviewed by the Big 12. I guess they're going to be reaching out to them to find out why it wasn't reviewed. Clearly, win or lose, player safety should be at the front of this game and we don't believe that that was the case in this instance.”

Kelly said Hunter and safety Avery Sebastian will both go through concussion testing protocol this week. Their status for Saturday is in question.

QB ANSWERS

DeShone Kizer seemed to do enough Sunday night to establish himself as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback for Saturday’s home opener against Nevada.

He threw for 215 yards and five touchdowns, and ran for one score. Yet, Kelly wasn’t ready to anoint him as No. 1 Monday.

“It’s only one game,” Kizer said after the game. “This is one performance where I felt I laid a lot out there.

“There were a lot of good things I did, but I’m only focused on the bad. The number of bad things is unacceptable. A lot of points were left out on the (field). Thirty-five points (by the offense) is a goal of ours, but there were 21 more left sitting there.”

NO TWO

After C.J. Sanders scored a touchdown in the first overtime, did Kelly give any thought to going for a two-point conversion to end the game one way or the other?

“No, no, I didn't give that much thought,” Kelly said. “We battled so hard to get back into the game, and, again, to take the lead. It just didn't feel that was the right time to go for two. With the rules being as they are, you're going to go for two in the third overtime anyway. It's not going to be a prolonged situation. You're going to get it decided if it goes to a third overtime.”

WHERE’S DRUE?

Even though the Irish were down to a few true freshman in the defensive secondary, one veteran wasn’t on the field for much of the second half.

Was junior safety Drue Tranquill injured?

“Personnel reasons,” was what Kelly said after the game, and what he reiterated Monday. “We make our own decisions relative to time and place in the game.”