Pitt notebook: Savage defends ejected ND player
By Jerry DiPaola
Published: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 9:06 p.m.
When Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt was ejected Saturday night for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Pitt quarterback Tom Savage, the ACC officiating crew had no choice.
Tuitt was ejected, per the NCAA's targeting rule.
Savage, who suffered concussion symptoms Sept. 28 when he was hit by Virginia linebacker Daquan Romero, suggested the rule might be excessively harsh.
“Obviously, they are trying to protect the players,” Savage said, “but I think you hate to see someone get ejected for the game, especially like that.
“I put my head down, too, just to try to get the first down. He was just playing ball, and he hit me. It's tough for defenders to control themselves like that when I'm running at them and they are running at me. It's a split-second thing.
“It just stinks because he's a good player, and you would like to play against their best.”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly protested the call but softened his stance after the game when he said officials were following “the letter of the law.”ACC coordinator of officials Doug Rhoades told the Chicago Tribune he agrees with the ruling.
Tuitt is the second Irish player ejected this season for targeting (linebacker Ben Councell was thrown out of the Oklahoma game). Kelly said at his weekly news conference that the rule needs to be reviewed.
“Clearly, when a 320-pound inside player is running from the hash to the numbers at full speed and trying to make a play and he gets thrown out of the game, I don't think that's what the rule was intended for,” he said.
“We're going to have to look at the rule in greater detail after the season because we don't want to take (aggressive play) out of the game,”
Pitt coach Paul Chryst said he has been told that the rule will be “revisited.”
Hold your breath
The other angle to the story is Savage's willingness to run when a play breaks down. Not counting the opponents' 30 quarterback sacks, Savage has run out of the pocket 27 times for 123 yards.
“Tommy has had some interesting scrambles,” offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. “You don't question his toughness, that's for sure.”
Asked if he holds his breath when Savage runs, Rudolph said, “Sometimes.”
Backup cornerbacks Trenton Coles and Titus Howard, former teammates at Clairton High School, won't play against North Carolina, Chryst said. Howard has an unspecified injury, and Coles left the Notre Dame game after a helmet-to-helmet hit with Pitt safety Jason Hendricks.
Redshirt freshman Jahmahl Pardner, who was playing in the nickel packages last year before suffering a serious knee injury, and Montour graduate E.J. Banks will be the immediate backups to starters K'Waun Williams and Lafayette Pitts.
Chryst said tight end Scott Orndoff is questionable.
Chryst was captured on video dancing with great enthusiasm during the postgame celebration in the Heinz Field locker room.
The video went viral, which didn't please Chryst, but he said he learned a lesson.
“The locker rooms used to be sacred,” he said, “and shame on me for being so naive. But we're taking care of measures to make sure that doesn't happen again.”
Chryst said he hadn't seen it. “My kids looked at it and said, ‘Thanks a lot, Dad.' ”
By Thursday afternoon, the eight-second video had 27,019 views on You Tube.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org |or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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