The Picks: Targeting rule worth closer look

FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2018, file photo, LSU linebacker Devin White (40) tackles Louisiana Tech running back Jaqwis Dancy (23) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, in Baton Rouge, La. White was named to The Associated Press Midseason All-America team, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman, File)

We used to think the heat coming out of Baton Rouge was from the spicy gumbo. But not this week.

This week, everyone wearing purple and gold has been steaming because elite linebacker Devin White was ejected for targeting in the second half of the Mississippi State game last Saturday.

As a result, he’ll miss the first half of the Alabama game next week (conspiracy theorists, the line forms to the left) and if you have been watching Bama, you know that the game may be over by the time White is allowed out of the locker room.

The whole deal prompted a #FreeDevinWhite billboard in Birmingham, home of the SEC office, and a GoFundMe account to pay for it.

More importantly (because the decision cannot be appealed), it has brought up a lot of discussion about the targeting rule. A lot of people believe it should change, that it should be like basketball where you have a Flagrant 1 and a Flagrant 2. In football, the argument goes, the latter resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

In theory, it makes sense. There have definitely been some targeting calls that were accurate by the letter of the rule, but probably not fair.

The problem is twofold — 1. How do you judge intent? Did a player accidentally make contact with a defenseless player or do it on purpose? That’s a new can of worms (nice cliche) I’m not sure college football wants to deal with; 2. Can college football really walk back any rules on player safety?

I’m not sure that will happen. But it will be interesting to see if there are any changes in the future. It’s so strange to watch college football on Saturday and then watch the NFL on Sunday where there are plays that would be targeting in college that are not violations in the pros by rule.

I know, The Picks usually doesn’t tangle with such serious subjects. I blame it on the bye week. Brain cells were regenerated. I’ll get back to being silly next week.

After a bit of a mid-season slump, The Picks made some adjustments and rolled to a 9-1 record last week. That’s 54-26 for the year. Thank goodness I didn’t have Ohio State-Purdue as one of my picks.

FLORIDA-GEORGIA: So is it better to be coming off a bye week after a loss or a bye week after five straight wins? Look, the only thing I know for sure is that this is the first of a long series of meetings between Kirby Smart and Dan Mullen and it’s likely only going to get better. By my count, the two coaches who faced each other the most in this series were Vince Dooley and Doug Dickey. That Dooley went 6-3 in those nine games. This Dooley is 3-4 picking Florida games. The two are unrelated in more ways than one. Georgia, 28-23.

CLEMSON AT FSU: So all week we’ve been hearing about how the No. 2 team in the nation has been knocked off two weeks in a row and now it could be Clemson’s turn. That’s giving FSU way too much credit for beating an awful Wake Forest team that lost to Clemson 63-3 two weeks ago. At home. Clemson, 38-21.

TEXAS A&M AT MISS. STATE: The Bulldogs have lost three of four and in those three losses have scored 16 total points. Good thing they hired an offensive-minded coach. A&M, 24-7.

IOWA AT PENN STATE: Remember before the season when I had Penn State in my Final Four? I blame myself. Penn State, 31-24.

KENTUCKY AT MISSOURI: Kentucky just continues to be handed gifts like Vandy’s play-calling last week (awful) and the motivation of unranked Missouri being a touchdown favorite over a team with a shot at winning the East. There’s a reason Mizzou is favored. Missouri, 27-20.

MIAMI AT BOSTON COLLEGE (Friday): A.J. Dillon hasn’t played in October because of a bum ankle, but he is supposed to be back. I’m not sure what’s going on with Miami. But the ’Canes are the better team. Miami, 24-20.

TENNESSEE AT SOUTH CAROLINA: I hate to say it but this is exactly the kind of game South Carolina figures a way to lose. But I’m going opposite of my gut on this one. South Carolina, 28-17.

VANDERBILT AT ARKANSAS: Here’s one thing I know about this game — one team will win its first SEC contest of the season. The other has a shot at 0-8. Vandy, 21-13.

WASHINGTON STATE AT STANFORD: How good is it going for Steve Spurrier? His son Steve Jr. is a coach at 14th-ranked Washington State and his other son Scott is a quality control assistant at 21st-ranked South Florida and his Gators are ranked ninth. And he gets to start calling ball plays again soon. Washington State, 34-23.

UTAH AT UCLA (Friday): This seems difficult to believe, but Chip Kelly actually has his 2-5 team right smack in the middle of the race in the Pac-12 South. And you wonder why that conference won’t have a team in the College Football Playoff? Utah, 35-21.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. I really thought FSU would be ranked in the Top-10 after beating Wake Forest, and surely start being considered a Play Off contender. I guess they’ll just have to be satisfied with Willie Taggart being AP Coach of the Year now. 😁

  2. Pat, “Oh you of little faith….”
    The Gators trajectory has been nothing but up from game to game. They are gelling as players and as a team.
    The Dawgs had a Dawg Day two weeks ago to the team we already beat. They are getting ready for a second Dawg Day tomorrow. It’s not just talent, Pat, it’s what you do with the talent.
    The Gators are ahead of schedule and the Dawgs are a day late. The same pattern will continue tomorrow:
    Read it and weep , Pat, Gators 24-21.

    • Lakeland Gators KNOW Gator Football and and the pups – poodles now have it in their heads….. choked to the tigers and now plays the team that beat them down and out just 3 weeks ago. IF Franks can play just at a B level on Sat, find some long plays and make no BIG mistakes….. Gators run over and around and make it 30 – 20.. Go Gatas from the Rocky Mountain Gator Club of CO to ALL Fla folks this fine Saturday to come! (and yep, Go to Hell dogs)

    • I’m still holding strong with my prediction that Smart will be Muschamp 2.0. A great recruiter with no concept of the X’s and O’s. This quote from him says it all. “Mullen does a good job of changing the game and dictating the game as a play caller but at the end of the day it boils down to the guys making plays, not the guys calling the plays.” Sorry Kirby, but calling the right play to put the players in a position to be successful is the fundamental aspect of coaching. Talent only gets you so far.

      • LGN is totally right about the upward trend of the GATORS and the downward trend of the Dawgs. Joe is really on to a key point here, i.e., that UF has a GREAT Game Day Coach in CDM. He schemes well, and adjusts well during the game. This is real Football intelligence, staying smart, tough and NIMBLE. GATORS 24 Dawgs 10

    • By the way, anyone notice how top recruits are dropping from UGA’s class like flies? This time the #1 RB recruit John Emery has backed out of his commitment. Word is their top rated player in the class Nolan Smith has decided with 2 months left till early signing day, that he wants to take all of his official visits after all, even though he’s been committed for 2 years. I think even the recruits are starting to smell the coaching stink.

  3. Before the season started I figured this game to be a blowout loss for Florida. It’s not a blowout loss for Florida now, but it’s a loss nevertheless. Dan Mullen has brought in his ground and pound short pass attack and has managed to take a vagabond group of players and win some games. For all the hype and hope, Florida does have a shot at the SEC East if Kentucky loses 1 of 2 games (which they will) and Florida pulls off the win! That being said, Georgia’s offense, when running properly, is the offense that can beat Florida’s defense. Florida’s defense is really fast, has lots of blitzes, and tries to force mistakes. They’re very good at it. But, this is a Georgia team that has the players to run draw, traps, screens, and then slants and seam routes that can destroy a blitzing football team. Sometimes you can live by the blitz, but you can die by the blitz as well. This should be an interesting game. Should be a hard fought game. This could be the game where Florida’s offense will be called upon to start scoring points on its own….but this is not Vandy. Georgia 30, Florida 17. And now, off to the cesspool of Jacksonville.

  4. Why not just eliminate the carryover rule? If you are ejected, you are only ejected for the game in which you committed the foul. More often than not, these plays aren’t happening in blowouts with 2:00 left. The other option is for the league to review all of the targeting penalties during the week and hand out or walk back suspensions. They review the games anyway. Flagrant 1 and Flagrant 2 seems too complicated like the old facemask penalties.

  5. I see the Gators winning unless it’s a blowout loss which is unlikely. No doubt Mr smart is going to try something like fields running the wishbone like Georgia tech does or hurry up or 3 tight ends…but I think we will be alert with CDM and good enough to handle that side. If Mr Franks finally has that breakout game this will be fun

    • I don’t think Smart has brass ones like Saban does. I just can’t see him throwing a true freshman to the wolves in a huge must win rivalry game coming off a loss. I’m sure we’ll see Fields more than LSU did, but I just don’t see a bunch a new packages being given to a guy that’s hardly played significant snaps against good teams. I don’t think Smart has the ability to be that innovative. He hasn’t shown any innovation yet in almost 3 seasons. It’s the same game plan game after game. I’d be absolutely shocked if we saw something completely different from them.

  6. Grumps, every town has its own cesspool. Seems the posters here happily avoid them, only to enjoy the nicer aspects of the towns and the good things they have to offer. I am one of those. As for The Game, I’m hoping the Gators get off to a fast start, since momentum is on our side going in, and the defense gets back to causing turnovers. Gators 27 Dawgs 20

  7. This is the game we have been waiting for all year. We had a week off to rest and no injuries, so we are at full strength. Stick to the game plan and we will win the game.
    Florida 31 Georgia 20. Good Day……………..

    • But will we be at FULL strength? I have not seen anything this week about the status of our 2 linebackers (Joseph and Houston) who were both thrown out of the Vandy game in the 1st half. I think by SEC rule, they would both be required to sit out the 1st half of the next game. I may be wrong about this, but if they both have to sit out it will have a big impact on defense with Joseph and on special teams with Houston. Anyone know the scoop on this?

  8. Pat, the rule that needs to be changed is the one that THREW Vosean Joseph out of the game against Vanderbilt. It is ridiculous that a team ”foul” can be added to a player (a 2nd), thus getting him thrown out of the game. So that needs to be addressed as much as the ”targeting rule.” And speaking of targeting, a R.B. lowers his head nearly every running play and usually hits an opposing player’s helmet, is that ”targeting”!?!? These rules are in serious need of re-adjustment in college football today, in my opinion. Finally, thanks Pat for picking U.G.A. As you picked Miss. State over Florida, you also picked L.S.U. over Florida. So let’s keep a good thing going!

  9. Florida vs Georgia weekend is finally here…I actually thought UF would be 7-0 and UG would be be 6-1 at this point…during fall practice I thought UF would be either 12-0 or 11-1…and the reason for my prediction was based on many years of watching and observing UF football practices from the early sixties when I played until now…I said back in the spring that this was a very talented team without much guidance last year…this year has been a completely different story…as much, as, I like and respect Pat Dooley as a writer…I don’t have much confidence in his ability to analyse the talent of a team as, far as ,a team strengths and weaknesses and player evaluations…actually, Pat has been poison to UF based on his own personal evaluation of this UF team, because he has a national spot light with the media because he is a UF beat writer…his inability to analyse this team correctly was an early disaster with the national media and general perception of this team, which was mostly determined by last year performance on the field…his constant articles and conversation stating this UF team lacked talent…had and still has fans and national media still believe we lack talent…although it is true, that last years team played more like a sand lot team, but that’s because of such poor coaching and play calling…which, certainly didn’t reflect the actual talent on this team…

    The total talent on this years team…In my opinion, after many years of observing and watching practices, on a regular basis, this team certainly ranks in the top 10 teams, in total talent over the past 50 years or so…I do know Mullen was ticked pink with the talent on this team….This Florida team has as much or more talent than UG ….UF can match UG team man for man and two deep, at that….on both sides of the ball with the exception of QB… UF has never had a group of receivers as big and fast as this group…all these guys run 4.3 and 4.4 forties…UF’s RB’s are as big as, and as fast as, any of the UG RB’s…although UF took a big hit when they lost Malik Davis…I also, believe UF has the better defense…for these reasons I believe UF is still on track to go 11-1 this year.

  10. We all need to respect Pat and his buddy Robbie. Both thought the Gators worthy of about four to five wins and their weekly predictions show that Robbie and Pat stick with their original guesses despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

  11. “The Jacksonville Jumble”
    It looks like the Gators are ready to rumble..
    They’re goin’ to make UGA’s rbs stumble an’ fumble.
    An’ when the. Dawgs try to pass, the ball’s gonna tumble–
    as the dropped passes make their qb grumble and mumble.
    An’ the high hopes of their fans will crumble,
    when they see the final score and crawl home humbled.

  12. Its obvious by listening to their coach, their players, and their talking heads that we’re in the heads of the pups. Smart goes dumb and over coaches this game. The pups go tight with everything to lose. The good guys play loose on house money and once again ruin another puppy season! Good guys 38- pups 24. Book it!!!

  13. I think this game is a toss up at this point, and that in itself is something not a single Gator fan would have dreamed possible after the KY game. I would love to see our Gators beat them mutts like it was ’95 all over again, but will actually be happy to see us win by even a fluke play. Go Gators….and in honor of 1980 …let’s go with UF 26-21!!

    • I like it, Sparky! In 1984, I didn’t think it could possibly get any better than beating Auburn and Georgia back-to-back by a combined 51-3. Little did I know what was coming with SOS in the ’90’s, and the 52 that the HBC’s Gators hung on the Dawgs in that ’95 game in Athens was historic. As I recall, the ’81 game ended with the same 26-21 score as the ’80 game, so it’s about time the good guys come out on the right end of that score. Go Gators!