TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Like just about everyone else who has seen the controversial replay, Alabama interior linebacker Mack Wilson isn’t sure about the call. But to him what LSU linebacker Devin White did against Mississippi State last week probably wasn’t targeting.
“It looked like he pushed him,” said Wilson, who as a linebacker might be a little biased, “but the officials are going to call what they call."
The play has become extremely controversial, especially since Wilson is LSU’s top tackler and the No. 4 Tigers host No. 1 Alabama next on Nov. 3. Per NCAA rules, he’ll have to sit the first half for his high hit on Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald.
The play was reviewed by the league office, which may have had some different angles of the hit, and upheld.
“By rule, no player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent,” the SEC said in a statement. “The QB on the play was defenseless at the time of the contact. By rule, all targeting calls are reviewed. The call was reviewed and confirmed.”
Wilson had the hit that end Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano’s day against Alabama last Saturday, a 58-21 victory for the Crimson Tide. Although it looked a lot more violent the hit didn’t result in a penalty.
The linebacker subsequently defended it on social media to critics.
"It's something our coaches do a good job with,” he explained. “Basically working on technique since they come out with new tackling rules every year. We just work on making sure we have our head up when we make contact on anybody. Basically if you have any little contact to the head, they're calling targeting now so that's something we definitely work on."
He added about keeping his head up on tackles: "It's basically natural, because nobody wants to go down with a neck injury or a spine injury, so you definitely got to try to keep your head up and think about that. Because it could be a season-ending injury with the way you hit people nowadays. That's something that I think about all the time."
Earlier this week, Alabama coach Nick Saban said he didn’t want to comment on the play.