Bryant Undeterred by New Targeting Rule - "I'm Going to Always Take the Kill Shot"
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — College football has implemented a controversial new targeting rule for the 2013 season. While the rule itself isn't necessarily the controversial part, the punishment for breaking said rule certainly is.
As of now, if a player is flagged for targeting, which is defined as when "a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with an apparent intent that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball", then that player is also ejected from the game.
If the call happens in the second half of a game, then that player is also disqualified from playing in the first half of the next game. Fortunately for the players, the ejection can be overturned via instant replay, though the initial 15-yard penalty will stand.
For defensive players who are known as big hitters, they will be under the watchful eyes of referees who, more than ever, are being told to protect the players on the field.
Photo by Jim Davidson
One of those big hitters is Ohio State senior safety Christian Bryant. Though he is only listed at 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds, Bryant has never been one to be conservative when throwing his body around on defense.
Speaking at the Big Ten Media Days recently, Bryant explained that while he is aware of the rule, he's not going to let it change him as a player.
"It's an interesting subject right now," he said.
"I don't think I'm going to adjust my game at all. I'm the kind of guy who likes flying around to the ball. I'm a physical player and I'm not going to change my style of play just because of a new rule."
While Buckeye fans might cringe a bit at Bryant's words, he did add, "I am going to be more cautious on the helmet to helmets."
Still, for a defender, a big hit can not only set a tone, but it can also send a message. If a receiver finds that going over the middle results in getting hit violently, then that receiver will be less gung ho about doing it in the future. After all, a tentative receiver is a less dangerous receiver.
According to Bryant, this is actually something that head coach Urban Meyer talks to his team about.
"I try to defeat someone's will," he explained. "I feel like if you make a hard hit or a hard tackle, they'll be kind of tentative to run the ball as hard as they were before. Coach Meyer actually calls it the next day, if someone has a big hit it's 'defeating the man's will', watching their actions after they get hit and stand up."
However, for every message a defense tries to send, the football officials are trying to send one as well. With the safety concerns at a nearly all-time high, things are becoming much more serious than they ever were before.
A hit that 20 years ago would result in oohs and ahhs could now result in a few boos and see you laters.
Getting ejected for a hit could leave a team devastated if they don't have the depth to overcome it. And anyway, starters are starters for a reason, losing any of them would hurt.
"Being ejected, I think that's kind of pushing it overboard," Bryant said, to the surprise of absolutely no one.
The coaches will certainly be talking to their players about the new punishment, and how to work around it. But football will remain football, at least as long as Christian Bryant is playing it.
"If you have that kill shot, I'm going to always take the kill shot," he said.
"If the receiver comes in the middle to catch a ball in the middle of the field, I'm not going to give him a love tap. They're just going to run that play over and over again. You want to make sure that nobody wants to come to the middle of the field again the whole game. That's what bothers me about the rule."
That being said, it will always be better for a player to let up a little and be allowed to keep playing, rather than laying the hit of the century on a player and then having to watch the rest of the game from the showers.
Bryant understands this, even if he doesn't like it. However, he's not about to let the rule slow him down as a defender.
"It's not going to make me tentative at all," he said. "I am going to be more aware and more cautious of the rule because I'm not trying to get ejected from a game. It's really just going to make me work on my form tackling at this camp coming up."
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