The ejections of Wisconsin linebacker Leon Jacobs and cornerback Derrick Tindal for targeting during the Badgers' 28-3 victory over Troy on Saturday were cause for much controversy both during and after the game.
Head coach Paul Chryst was the first to address the media following the ejections of Jacobs and Tindal. Not surprisingly, the mild-mannered Chryst turned down an opportunity to lay into the officials.
"I think there's always the gray area and yet it's been clear: The officials are going to err on the side of player safety. And knowing that there is some gray in it, I think that's the right thing," Chryst said, adding the call is out of the officials' hands "at times."
In his Monday press conference, Chryst told reporters, "There's no question in my mind Leon and Derrick were trying to play the game the right way."
As for the players, the calls drew mixed reactions.
"No, of course not," cornerback Natrell Jamerson -- who filled in nicely in Tindal's absence -- said when asked if he agreed with the ejections. "I don't think anybody agreed with those calls."
Linebacker Joe Schobert suggested that Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers' helmet flying off on the hit from Jacobs may have influenced the call.
"You know, it's football," Schobert said. "You have to make split-second decisions and I don't necessarily agree with it. But it's the refs' call and they have to look out the players' safety. So you have to respect that."
Safety/wide receiver Tanner McEvoy and cornerback Sojourn Shelton opted to avoid voicing their opinions, but still offered responses to questions about targeting.
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Referee explains Jacobs, Tindal ejections
A pool reporter spoke with the referee about the disqualifications of two of Wisconsin's contributors on defense.
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"I mean, there's head injuries in the game and they're trying to stop them. I mean, I play offense, too, and I wouldn't want my head taken off, so there's a give-and-take and you just have to be smart."
After saying he didn't want to get too far into specifics, Shelton hinted at a respectful disagreement with the referees.
"Understand that the refs are going to make some calls," Shelton said. "That's their job. That's not our job. Our job is to play football, so some calls might be here and there, but the only thing we can do is continue to press forward and handle what's in front of us, and that's moving onto the next play."
Safety and team captain Michael Caputo explained what his ejected teammates could have done to prevent any question of targeting to begin with.
"In my opinion, both of them could have kept their head up," Caputo said. "The quarterback is a little different because, although you don't want to get a roughing the passer I understand Leon was trying to, his momentum was going forward. He just, last second, was like, ‘Oh no, don't.' Then he kind of hit him, ran into him. It can all be avoided by just keeping your head up, wrapping your arms and running through."
As the Badgers learned Saturday, any question of targeting is placed in the hands of the referees.
"It's tough, but it's what the ref sees," McEvoy said. "I can't really speak too much on it, but they can review it again and hopefully they help us out. But if happens, and the next (man) has to be able to step up and make a play."