University of Missouri

Barry Odom shares thoughts on targeting rule and advice from a surprise visitor

Mizzou’s DeMarkus Acy (left), shown in a Sept. 9 game against South Carolina, was ejected in the first quarter of Saturday’s game at Kentucky.
Mizzou’s DeMarkus Acy (left), shown in a Sept. 9 game against South Carolina, was ejected in the first quarter of Saturday’s game at Kentucky. AP

Missouri safety DeMarkus Acy had to take an early shower on Saturday night in the Tigers’ 40-34 loss at Kentucky after he was ejected for a targeting penalty on a first-quarter tackle.

Acy led with the crown of his head while trying to bring down Kentucky wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. and was ejected. Acy will be able to play on Saturday at Georgia.

Tigers coach Barry Odom was asked at his Monday news conference what Acy could have possibly done to avoid the call because he was already in the motion of tackling when the Kentucky player lowered his head, which lead to the penalty.

Odom said he thinks the rule has done a lot for college football, but plays like that are usually going to lead to an ejection when it’s too close to call.

“It’s a little bit difficult in teaching in that certain situation,” he said. “I love the rule. I think it’s good for any level of football. The safety component of it. The hardest thing to teach in that is the knowing the target zone for the defender, where to approach. Because a lot of times if you’re catching the ball you have the tendency to be going down to leaning one way or the other.”

Odom said situations like Acy’s are split-second decisions and that the best way to avoid the penalty altogether is to continue to target lower areas on the player’s body when tackling. He said when watching the play in slow-motion, Acy’s head was down right before contact but it came up when connecting with the player.

Missouri junior safety Cam Hilton was ejected for targeting earlier this season in the Tigers’ opener against Missouri State.

Other notes

▪ Odom said Missouri women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton visited him in his office Monday morning to discuss some of the struggles of building a program. Odom said Pingeton discussed the phrase “pushing the rock,” which he said will be something he keeps in mind the rest of the season.

▪ Missouri tight end Jason Reese injured a leg muscle on Saturday in warmups, which caused him to sit out the majority of the game. Odom said he’ll be fine for Saturday.

▪ Odom said he was proud of linebacker Terez Hall, who continues to play well on defense. Hall chose Missouri over Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana and Nebraska and Odom said he was up late the night before National Signing Day to keep Hall committed to the Tigers, something he hasn’t let him forget. “It was a long night,” he said. “It was a long night of continuing to talk about his plan and our plans for him. I remind him of that every now and then when he’s giving me headaches.”

▪ The SEC announced that Missouri’s homecoming against Idaho on Oct. 21 will kickoff at 11 a.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Alex Schiffer: 816-234-4064, @TheSchiffMan