Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney did not agree with the targeting call on cornerback A.J. Terrell which caused the Tigers’ starting cornerback to ejected from the game.
Terrell was covering a punt with Clemson in front 28-3 in the second quarter when he attempted to tackle Louisville return man Javian Hawkins. The two collided and Terrell’s helmet hit Hawkins’ helmet. Terrell was called for targeting, which the replay official upheld in the booth.
“I didn’t agree with that call,” Swinney said during his Sunday teleconference call with the media. “But you have to live with it.”
The NCAA rule book says targeting will be called when players make forceable contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent while leading with the crown of their helmet or using a shoulder or elbow when making contact. Launching is also considered a form of targeting.
Swinney thought Terrell tried to turn away and Hawkins got a little lower to embrace for contact.
“It was kind of a bang, bang play,” he said. “You have to live with the call. That is just the way it is. But it is tough for sure for those defensive guys, but hopefully it is something that we can continue to improve on.
“But sometimes you are going to have some of those plays, but you do the best you can to try and make sure you teach them not to lead with the crown of their helmet, stay away from above the neck area and those types of things. But sometimes, the body angles and those types of things and stuff like that can make it a little bit more of a challenge.”
Terrell is the second Clemson player to be ejected this year for targeting. Chad Smith was called for targeting earlier this season. The good news for Clemson is because Terrell was ejected in the second quarter and missed all of the third and fourth quarters on Saturday, he will be eligible to start next week’s game at Boston College.
“We tackle all the time and we practice it every week and we teach it every week,” Swinney said. “Sometimes there are just football plays that are kind of unavoidable. The refs are not perfect. They’re constantly trying to get better, too. We send those things that we do not agree with and so forth to try to make sure we have good clarification and to also if they missed it, to help them get better.”
Noah DeHond done for the year? Swinney said offensive lineman Noah DeHond had surgery this past Wednesday on his neck and shoulder area. The redshirt freshman is expected to miss the next two months according to the Clemson head coach.
Fields status for BC is up in the air. Reserve cornerback Mark Fields is recovering from a groin injury he suffered in practice last week. He did not play against Louisville on Saturday and Swinney said on Sunday his status is still up in the air for this week’s game at Boston College.
Swinney says they will have to wait and see on the status of the senior from Charlotte, N.C.
Pollard should be good to go. Right guard Sean Pollard did not play against the Cardinals either. Swinney said the 6-foot-5, 315-pound junior was suffering from back spasms, so they decided to hold him out.
Swinney said Pollard was ready to go if they needed him. Pollard is also recovering from a wrist injury, he suffered at Florida State the week before. However, Swinney said he is wearing a small cast and practiced on it all of last week and did not have any issues.
Tigers still No. 2. Clemson remained ranked No. 2 in both the Associated Press and the Amway Coaches Polls on Sunday.