Darnay Holmes ejected as UCLA picks up targeting call in fourth straight game
PASADENA — As the UCLA defense focused heavily on tackling this week, Coach Jim Mora didn’t add any extra emphasis on cutting down on the targeting penalties that had claimed three of his players in as many games. He just didn’t know what else he could say.
The problem persisted Saturday as cornerback Darnay Holmes was UCLA’s fourth player in four games to be ejected for targeting. The freshman hit Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay on Colorado’s first offensive drive and was removed from the game upon video review for appearing to lower his helmet into Lindsay’s neck area. The running back was still in the air after jumping to catch a 2-yard pass.
Holmes’ stop would have left Colorado with a fourth-and-9 from the UCLA 36, but instead, the Buffaloes moved to the UCLA 21-yard line with a fresh set of downs and scored the game’s opening touchdown on the very next play. Colorado quarterback Steven Montez found Lindsay for a 21-yard touchdown strike.
Last week, UCLA safety Adarius Pickett and Stanford cornerback Alijah Holder were both ejected for targeting on hits that Mora saw as “good football plays,” which made it difficult for him to interpret the rule.
“We do it the best we can to look at it and say, ‘OK, eyes up,’ you know, but things are just happening so fast out there that sometimes you have to inject a little realism into it,” the coach said this week of his message to players about avoiding targeting calls. “I’m very confident that the Pac-12 and hopefully the NCAA realize it is a very, very, very difficult situation. It’s a difficult thing to monitor but that we can somehow find a way to make it a little bit better so that we protect these kids but we still let them play […]