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Stoops agree with targeting call that led to Bowden’s ejection

Lynn Bowden leaves the field after being ejected from Saturday’s game. (Vicky Graff Photo)


During quarterback Stephen Johnson’s 34-yard run in the first quarter Saturday, Kentucky freshman receiver was hustling to make a downfield block — the kind of thing receivers coach Lamar Thomas expects from his players.

Bowden was called for targeting and ejected from the game after the official review of the play.

Most UK fans didn’t like the call.

Neither did former UK tight end Jacob Tamme, who was at the game to help honor wounded veterans as part of Heroes’ Day at Kroger Field.

“No way college football. That is not a defenseless player. Wow,” Tamme posted on Twitter after the play.

Bowden had two kickoff returns for 51 yards before being ejected. Those were the first two times the highly-touted freshman had touched the ball — and he had indicated on Twitter last week he was no happy he didn’t get a touch in the win at Southern Mississippi.

Bowden had to leave the field and once again he took to Twitter.  However, it was only this tweet until after the game ended: “My guys got this watch them from the inside #BBN,” Bowden tweeted.

Teammate Derrick Baitty admitted that Bowden’s ejection had an impact on the team.

“As a team, we were moving so slow and Lynn was moving fast. He was moving so fast that he got ejected out of the game and it set a fire to us. We knew that we had to back up our brother,” Baitty said.

Stoops has been known to disagree with officials. I wondered what he thought of the call and ejection, so I asked him after the game if he had an opinion on the call.

“I had a strong opinion that it was going to stand.

 No, I had a strong opinion I agreed with them. It’s unfortunate. Again, it’s a young guy with some inexperience. It was nothing malicious. He tried to lead with his shoulder. He tried to hit the shoulder. But as the rule states, if you make any contact with that face …

 ,” Stoops said.

“It was nothing malicious, like I said. He really tried to make a good block. He did make some contact. There wasn’t a lot. It wasn’t a brutal hit or anything like that. But if you make any contact with head-to-head, they’re going to call that on an unprotected player. 

It’s unfortunate more than anything because, you know, you saw he had some touches on the kick returns. We really wanted to get him going.

“It stinks for him. I feel bad, but it was just an honest mistake.

We talk about it all the time, just with peel-back blocks, whether it’s kick return, punt return, even an interception, guys want to peel back and take somebody out. You can’t do that any more. We really emphasize that. Like I said, it was really unfortunate because he made some contact with the head there.


While Stoops didn’t want Bowden’s game to end so soon, he supports the targeting rule.

“I agree with it anymore because we got to get the head injuries out of the game as much as possible. I think it’s really helped. We haven’t had one for a long time. I can’t remember when the last time we had somebody kicked out for targeting. It’s been a few years,” Stoops said.




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  1. Difficult situation, and my understanding of the rule says the enforcement of the rule was correct, but I have to wonder why the rule only punishes one player for a collision of two players, running at full speed, each attempting to make a football play. Enforcement seems clear when one of the two players uses his helmet as a weapon against the other player, but when the helmet to helmet collision is incidental to the play of the two players, why is the defensive player presumed the guilty one?

  2. Great rule! It is time to take the Sports Center top 10 out of football. If football is to survive, They need to get rid of the so called spectacular calls. In this case the hit did not need to occur as Stephen Johnson was ahead of both pursuers and the same results could have been achieve by walking in front of the two players. Most of the concussions in football could be eliminated by not glamorizing these so called calls, thus eliminating them! The true question is this action best for you or the team?

    Eastern Kentucky was much younger, but played like the more mature team on the field. I think too many of our players have been reading their own press clippings! I do not know if it is the players or the coaching staff. If we are going to have the year that all of us expect, then we need to start playing smart for the team first. I am still very optimistic about the remainder of the season.

  3. It was a good call, Bowden should have pulled up. The block was not needed. He cost his team.

  4. Have you ever tried to check your golf swing two thirds of the way to the ball?? Similar problem with this call. The player has to visualize what his action is going to by during practice. That way, the muscle memory makes him take a different trajectory. If he stops to think, he has missed the play. it was a good call.

    Having been on the receiving end of some of these helmet to helmet hits, this is a good rule. When I played the game, some (not all) players want to take you out with a hit. I don’t that has changed much over time, but it should.

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