Should Torii Hunter Hit Been Called Targeting?

In a game of big plays, one of the biggest plays in Notre Dame’s crushing season opening loss was the missed targeting call on wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr.  The senior wide receiver looked like he was about to secure a go a head touchdown when he was maliciously hit in the head by Texas defensive back Deshon Elliot.  No flag was thrown, no review of the play was called for.

When asked about the play at the end of the game, Brian Kelly didn’t mince words.  “Obviously very disappointed we lost Torii Hunter to a blow to the head.  It wasn’t even reviewed which doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Kelly.  “I’ve been in this game a long time and I know when someone gets hit in the head – and he was certainly hit in the head in that play in the end-zone.”

“Just unfortunate that it wasn’t officiated or reviewed in a manner I thought it should have been,” Kelly added.

When asked about the discussions he had with the officials regarding that play Kelly’s only response was, “Heated.”

At the time of the play Notre Dame trailed Texas 31-28 and a targeting call would have set Notre Dame up with a first and goal.  Without the blow to the head, Hunter looked like he would have come down with the catch to put the Irish up.

Instead of facing a first and down, however, Notre Dame lined up for a field that ended up getting blocked by Texas.

Some – mainly Texas fans based on their reaction in the stands – will scoff at the notion that the play should have been called targeting, but based on reviewing the play, it looks like a clear cut case of targeting if their ever was one.  Considering officials are told that “if it’s questionable” it’s targeting; it seems pretty obvious that it should have been called.

Hunter’s status for next week against Nevada is up in the air now.


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  1. Bob, I have heard that but not seen it from the ACC anywhere. I stand corrected if that is the case. Can anyone show that statement? Truth be told, it should have been reviewed and perhaps should have been called targeting. My issue is the idiotic comments complaining of cheating. Cheating refs, cheating Texas, institutional cheating because ND is a richer school than UT (both false and idiotic). i did finally get to see one ND fan give kudos to an opponent for a good game. I am not just a Texas ex and UT homer, I have also followed ND football since the 80s. I do think DeShone Kizer is the real deal and I am glad Kelly did not have it figured out before game day or it would have been a different story and i suspect, none of the targeting discussions would even be taking place right now.

    1. Should have been a touchdown before the hit because he had control of the ball on his first step. College football only requires one foot inbounds and the replay shows he had one foot down. Just another many blown calls during the game. My brother played college ball and he told me it was targeting. So they blew two calls.

  2. No…never let this go. It’s all about cheating and worthless refs. Iits about deliberately inflictimg injury on a player to win. It is epidemic in football. The two BYU players in the BYU Utah game that WERE hit with targetting were not even close to what Texas did. Mc Chesney and the other guy never made helmet to helmet contact. It was crooked ref calls. If you think it’s not worth fighting about look at all three targetting cases and tell me how BYU was targetting and Texas wasn’t . Besides Hunter had blood on his forehead and the hypocrites at the NCAA and Big 12 say nothing. At least on the 2 BYU cases, the plays were reviewed and at different angles. They did review them. Not so with the ACC refs on the Texas field. These refs should be sanctioned and booted.

    1. Unfortunately ACC Football Officials have had a history of missed or wrong calls. I don’t think they intentionally have done so, but it is interesting that when considering ND games officiated by ACC refs we can see some of the results: The ‘pick’ call against the winning ND TD against Florida State by a ref on the other side of the field while the two closest refs did not see the pick, but on the same play there was an obvious hold by FSU against an ND receiver in the endzone and an FSU player (thinking the TD was good and that FSU had lost) took his helmet off and threw it down………..both penalties MISSED ON THE SAME PLAY………..Last against Stanford last yea,r near the goal line, the Stanford tight end was covered by an offensive lineman, but he went into the endzone to catch a TD pass……………NO PENALTY CALL…….THE OFFICIALS MISSED IT………..

    2. such a crybaby. joe, EVERY PLAY has helmet to helmet contact! EVERY PLAY! if hunter catches the ball, you are saying nothing about “targeting” ! you really think Elliot got up that morning and decided he was going to target someone in the end zone that day? You really think the refs from the ACC and Big 12 colluded on a bang bang play to ensure ND did not score? For what reason? Because Texas is wealthier than ND (a different idiotic comment from another ND homer). In fact, ONLY ND homers see targeting, no refs, no opponents, no ACC or Big 12 refs, no rules committees, As someone else said in an earlier tirade of yours, Go to Burger King as that is the only way you are going to get it your way. Wow. take a nap. start your day again later. Eaaasyyy now…easssyy…..there…there we go…yeah.

      1. In answer to one comment, the ACC is on record saying THAT IT WAS TARGETING and their officials missed the call

  3. Wow, guys! get over it! It was not targeting! It was not a touchdown. This play did not change the momentum nor did it lose you the game! Giving up 50 points and 517 yds and underestimating Texas is what lost you the game. OMG, never a bunch elite crybabies has ever existed. Wow!! And to one person’s idiotic comment about jealousy playing a wealthier team, perhaps playing a team 2.5 times wealthier than ND did impact ND play. Was that your point? If so, you have to work on that…. Wow!! you lost. Focus on Nevada. Let this one go.

  4. Prime example of the Texas good ol’e boy network, hometown referee got envelope loaded with 100 bills after game, thats how it works in the dirty south…sad but true

  5. Rules?? They make this cap up as they go along. No one will ever tell me refs aren’t in the pockets of Las Vegas casinos. They had to prevent ND from scoring the touchdown. Hunter caught the ball. His foot was down in the in zone before the latest hit targetting him. Be the way why did his two teammates just stand there? They knew Hunter caught the ball and they couldn’t do anything until the third guys nose dives into Hunter’S helmet. Unbelievably crooked. Refs have to cheat to support their conference and Las Vegas gamblers…the point spread was 3 points? Close eniugh.

  6. He caught the ball in the air and landed on one foot in bounds. This is a completed pass in college ball? He took the hit after he landed on one foot. Shouldn’t this be a catch and a touch down? Are the rules different for a reception in the end zone. You see players having completed passes going out of bounds with only one foot inbounds.

  7. Yal, hit with the shoulder and then bash their brains out…yal, the Irish can do it too. Love it!!! Oh the idiots at the ACC said it looked like targetting the way the guy put his head down on his swoop into Hunter’S helmet. But that’s ok. I want to see the Irish blast their opponents brains out. It should be fun to see what the NCAA says in their worthless investigation. But the Big 12 will overrule the NCAA.

  8. The refs on the field were ACC refs, not Big 12. The ref in the replay booth was Big 12.I was rooting for the Irish but I thought it was a good none call. Helmets may have hit but his shoulder hit first.

  9. Well the Big 12 says definitely it was not targetting. This is actually great because now the Irish can do the same thing against future opponents. Two can play at the same thing. The Irish have some big guys capable of bloodING up a few quarterbacks and receivers. Go for it Irish! It’s ok. We saw a textbook example of how to do it. Bash their brains out!!!

  10. BTW. Have I mentioned the NCAA is completely worthless. Not financially. If Tunsill’s mommy’s boyfriend hadn’t sung like a bird they never would have found what everyone else knew. The public manner in which it came out required them to stop counting their money and actually investigate. They really didn’t want to do it. Completely corrupt organization committed to protecting and promoting all things SEC.

  11. Small david. I think you should look at the definition of bankrupt. Of course I didn’t mean financially bankrupt. They still have their heads down counting all their cash that’s why they haven’t had time to comment on this “player” safety issue.

  12. Just watched a replay of the game. There were at least five replays from DIFFERENT angles. The NCAA is worthless to allow that kind of targetting to be covered up. Like I said before players who can’t win fairly always have to resort to cheating. It’s the same story in academics.

  13. Palk

    I don’t want it both ways. I think it looks like a touchdown. Look for yourself he clearly takes possession and both feet land in the endzone before he is knocked unconscious. He didn’t bobble the ball at all until he was later knocked out.

    I think this view should be considered regardless of the outcome here. If you rule he must stand with the ball in the endzone for a certain number of seconds you are just going to encourage late hits.

  14. College football is nothing except an exercise in how you get away with CHEATING. These guys are close to prison material. This was targetting. Yes ND would have had a touchfown. Hunters feet were firmly planted and the ball secured until he got his head bashed. Nothung like victory by cheating. Did you people Alabama vs USC. USC STEPPED…on an Alabama players balls? Nothing like cheating.

  15. hmmmm…..looked like he led with his shoulder pads. looked like Hunter coming down from a higher elevation to a lower elevation on the play. you guys really see intent i.e. targeting? Strange thing though…. all Texas fans dont see targeting. All ND fans do see targeting. For sure there was helmet to helmet contact. But targeting. obviously the officials didnt see targeting…right? But once the vaunted Irish complain, now everybody except Texas fans see targeting..And what about the other 50 pts allowed by a defense that REALLY needs work stopping the run and the pass. What about the other 517 yds allowed. Perhaps, just maybe, maybe…ND would NOT have won the game, moved into the top 3, and secured one of the two spot, which of course they would win, in championship game. So now, since the might ND Irish complain, their drop in the polls will only be 2 or 3, not the 7 or 8 that mere mortal teams would drop. Turning point my A. Come to think of it, i say several holding non-calls against ND. Several other penalties that were non-calls. If I add them up, I see Texas winning 78 to 14. Now those are turning points!

    What?? oh..sorry Joe. I thought this was a session in ludicrous hypotheticals not based in facts where you get to assume the other team just sits on their uh…hands while ND scores again and again. In fact, since Hunter was coming down from above Elliot, HE should have been called for targeting! Yep…now it would have been 82 to 7 once you take out the non-calls, and start making stuff up………………

  16. On the next play after the targeting play, the field goal was blocked and if you look at the replay, the defensive guy that blocked the kick placed his right hand on the defensive lineman’s shoulder to boost himself to block the kick. Another missed penalty that would have resulted in a new set of downs. Clearly these 2 plays were the turning point of the game.

  17. David: he NCAA may indeed be “morally bankrupt”, if that is what you meant to say.

    But if you do think they are “utterly bankrupt”, I just hope you aren’t an accountant.

  18. I find it shocking that no public comments have come from either the NCAA or the Big 12 on why no booth review on this obvious illegal hit. The University should publicly chastise the NCAA for not addressing this almost 24 hours on. The whole idea of targeting penalties is to ultimately protect players by punishing individuals who strike players above the shoulders in a potentially dangerous manner. This illustrates what a sham the NCAA’s approach to protecting players against brain injuries truly is. Contrast this non penalty against the ejection of Stephen Tuitt against Pittsburgh a few years back and it truly illustrates how utterly bankrupt the NCAA is in its approach to protecting against CTE’s. If I were the Hunter family, I would sue the Big 12 and the NCAA.

  19. It’s unbelievable that call was missed. Both on the field and in the booth!

    I also guarantee you that if the shoe were on the other foot, Texas fans would be equally outraged and more than a few Irish fans would be saying it was a good non-call. Fans are by definition hypocrites.

    Bottom line, though, is ND lost because it didn’t make enough plays on D, O, STs.

  20. Year after year I remain disappointed at what has become a very weak Irish defense. They got manhandled last night and really couldn’t get off the field. Offense played well enough to win – the defense unfortunately rarely plays well enough to win. I think it is time for a change at the defensive coordinator position. Killing them.

  21. Once again the officials influence the games outcome with a terrible call. This was targeting plane and simple.

  22. @Joe I’m as upset with that non call as anybody. But the argument is NOT it should’ve been a TD either way because that’s simply not the case. You have to COMPLETE the catch, meaning hold onto the ball even after hitting ground. Endzone or not, a player must maintain possession of the football throughout the entire process.

    And your argument is he “established” himself in the endzone with the ball. If that’s the case, Hunter is no longer defenseless and targeting wouldn’t be called. Can’t have it both ways. The ball came out, a TD was never going to be considered here. Having said all that, targeting absolutely needed to be called. The home team calls or lack there of were driving me crazy! But to echo many others…can’t give up 500 yards and 50 points and expect to win. Hopefully we can make the most of this obvious learning experience and make this a great season.

  23. This is exactly why the targeting rule was created, to avoid injury. Hunter get hit by a helmet, get’s injured and the refs just stand there. Unconscionable to have a player life put put in danger and do nothing. They not only should be fires, but sued.

  24. the only way to stop targeting is with extra stiff penalties. Try, half season suspension, or longer. Bosa was kicked out immediately last year. Agree with earlier writers, We had no defense and Kizer did show He is right there with Watson as the premiere NCAA QB.

  25. Everyone is right, there were a lot of illegal hits taking place, like the one when Tyrone Swoopes trucked two defenders to set up the Longhorn tonchdown. That was clearly helmet to helmet and he should have gotten a penalty.

  26. Even if called, no guarantee ND scores TD. Hope the guy’s ok, but this one play in the third quarter was not the reason Texas won. Other questionable calls went against Texas including a phantom chop block where the O lineman touched no one at all. Great game all around. ND will be good this year – Texas vastly improved.

  27. Texas played a great game.
    ND played a great game, but their defense needs a lot of help and better get it straitened out SOON or it will be a long season.
    That said: this was clearly targeting/spearing and once again the ACC officials just happened to miss the call (Kelly was asked about it and said he screamed at the officials but they just ignored him). Remember that on the next play ND tried a FG and it was blocked………so they lost a first and goal if the penalty had been called and therefore missed a 7 point game changer which would have won the game looking at the game ending score (tied)
    Remember the ACC officials called a pick on ND against FSU and got the winning TD taken away but missed on the SAME PLAY holding by FSU on another receiver and a helmet being taken off and thrown to the ground by another FSU player (both penalties which should have offset one another and given ND another chance for a TD.

    Last, remember the ACC then came out after the Tuitt ejection to use it as an example that he DID NOT TARGET A PLAYER.

    Good game for Texas, another bad game for the inept ACC Officials.

  28. That it wasn’t even reviewed is worse than the non-call on the field. It’s not like they didn’t have time…what with the kid laying on the field for 5 minutes.

    ABC decided to fill the air time with footage of his dad wondering if he was crippled, and the on-air guys even mentioned the brand new, more lenient rule of being able to review a potential targeting play WITHOUT first getting an on-field call of it first.

    It would be shameful…except that these people are shameless.

  29. Prayers go out to Tori and his family,
    The play was definately targeting, I watched it over and over, DB was going for the head, This play was not only missed on the field but in the booth, these refs tainted the game. It wasn’t the only call missed in the game but it was huge.

  30. BTW: if you say its not a touchdown then I will ask how long do you have to have your feet planted with the ball in your hand in the end zone for it to be a td?

  31. It should have been called a touchdown. He had possession in the air. Both feet landed in the endzone and he still had possession. Then he was hit in the end zone and it came out.

  32. That penalty should have been called. However, The Irish D once again made a freshman QB look like an All-American. Texas had more energy, a better game plan, and better execution. I thought the Kiser looked great. Impressed with Hunter and St. Brown.

  33. The call on Shumate last year when he was ejected was 100 times cleaner than this hit. If that had been a ND DB, you can guarantee it would have been called.

  34. Yes, it should’ve been reviewed. And I hope he’s OK. When they were shuttling his family into the locker room during the game, that told me it was pretty serious.

    With that said, that wasn’t the reason ND lost the game.

  35. Let’s not forget the commentators Joe Tesatorre and Todd Blackledge, you can be sure the producer was telling them in their ear not to go there. They were shills for the network. I was rooting for the Horn’s but seeing the kids family as he was cheeped like that, one very brief re play. This is another example of our media, including our sports media giving us what they want us to see.Then they sit and wax on about the honor and integrity of all involved. It was absolutely the PLAY of the game, but not worthy of another mention. Very sad, another black eye for the NCAA

  36. @Chris: It takes a real man from the stands to claim that the sport is getting pussified when you are the one not taking the hit. The NCAA and the NFL have made it a policy to clean up the game with hits to the head. The refs should’ve thrown the flag and ejected the player. The Texas safety was trying to make a football play, but he illegally launched himself into Torii Hunter and nailed him in the head. I wouldn’t be so angry about this call, but in the past, ND players have been ejected for far less, while I don’t believe a single ND opponent has been ejected for targeting.

  37. How many times a nd player has been ejected for far less tuitt vs pitt where the pitt qb whent head. first into tuitt he got the boot cant stand the acc refs but again cant give up 50 pts and expect to win

  38. This why Texas A&M left the Big 12. Texas always gets the critical calls. Anyone who has watched football knows this was targeting. The Big 12 Replay official should be fired.

  39. The announcers also brought up that this year targeting infractions can be reviewed by the replay officials if it’s missed on the field and called from the booth.

  40. Hell no. That hit made sure he didn’t catch the ball. Quit getting upset with the L. Football is getting pussified enough, let it go.

  41. I was sitting in the game about 14,000 feet up and couldn’t see what happened at the time. They showed replays of no ND plays on the big scoreboard, so I was shocked when I saw this video. Blatant helmet on helmet. ND played absolutely no defense but that no call was beyond ridiculous.

  42. Agree this call could have been called targeting. The officiating was weak at times during the game both ways but that was not the deciding factor in this game. ND got beat because they gave up 500+ yards and 50 points to an offense led by a true freshman QB, true freshman center, sopohmore guard, sophomore left tackle, etc. UT was too physical for the ND defense to handle late in the game and Hunter doesn’t play defense. We can all pray/hope he has a speedy and complete recovery. But, give UT their due for winning a close game that could easily gone either way.

  43. Of course the play should have been reviewed and yes, it sure appeared to be a case of targeting. I would wager had this been the reverse, a review would have been called, targeting confirmed, and a ND player being ejected. Oh well, that’s how things go sometimes.

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