KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Georgia punter Collin Barber suffered a concussion after being blocked by Geraldo Orta in the third quarter on Saturday.
The Vols were returning a blocked punt and Barber was charging after the play.
Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked on the SEC teleconference on Wednesday whether he had complained to the league office.
Richt didn’t answer, saying any inquiries he makes to the league are private.
But the reporter who asked the question seemed certain that Orta should have been flagged for a targeting foul. So I went back and watched the video.
The stricter rules on “targeting” now include classifying punters and kickers as “defenseless players” at all times. That means cheap shots, blocks that blindside the punter during a return, are illegal.
So was this a blindside block? From Orta’s perspective, the punter charged toward him. It’s quite possible that the punter’s eyes were focused on the returner, Devaun Swafford, and that he didn’t see Orta until the last moment. But it’s hard to define this as a true blindside block. The would-be tackler was charging toward the ball-carrier. The blocker was in between. Orta didn’t swoop in from the side to obliterate him. He squared up and made a block.
The next question is whether Orta illegally targeted the head. While the punter’s head did snap back violently, Orta appeared to make contact with his forearms to the player’s chest. I wonder if Barber might have sustained the concussion when his head hit the turf?
Concussions should be taken seriously and college football’s crackdown on cheap hits and targeted shots to the head is commendable. But a review of the video makes it hard to find anything Orta could have done differently, short of getting run over by a punter who was charging at him.
Verdict: It was clean.