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Arizona football: Targeting rule unclear to the Wildcats

Cody Ippolito was ejected for the rule, and there’s some confusion why

NCAA Football: Grambling State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Despite recovering two fumbles against the Grambling State Tigers, Arizona Wildcats linebacker Cody Ippolito’s night will be defined by something else.

A targeting penalty.

After review, the redshirt senior was ejected from the game, and if the penalty holds up after a likely Arizona appeal, Ippolito will miss the first half of the Hawai’i game as well.

"I don’t really understand what the rules are now," teammate Michael Barton said after the game. "To me it looked like he hit him in the chest, so I’m not sure."

"I don’t know what the rules are anymore. I guess you just gotta hit ‘em in the ankles or something, but it is what it is."

Rich Rodriguez has always been an advocate for the targeting rule, as long as it’s enforced consistently and correctly, which it doesn’t seem like it has.

"I saw it on the replay, and I didn’t see it live," Rodriguez said afterwards. "I think the problem was the head down. It wasn’t because it was head to head, but in their opinion the head was down. You just don’t want to be close to that."

"It’s a hard thing to figure intent," coach continued. "I think when you launch with the crown of your helmet, that’s poor intent, target, go out. But it’s all for the safety of the players so I understand why the rule is severe, but if it’s bang-bang, and it wasn’t a launching and it wasn’t an intent to injure a guy, okay, a penalty, but throwing him out and being out the next half? That’s a pretty severe penalty."

While Ippolito’s suspension is not ideal (after all, he is the starting MIKE linebacker), it shouldn’t have a drastic impact on Arizona’s chances of beating Hawai’i to close out the non-conference schedule.

The Wildcats and Rainbow Warriors are set to kick off at 7:45 PM PT Saturday night on Pac-12 Network.