Let me begin by praising the Missouri Tigers for ascending to the SEC Championship. They played hard against my beloved Crimson Tide. They should be proud of their accomplishments this year. All of them, that is, except defensive end Shane Ray.
With 11:48 left in the second quarter, Ray made a vicious hit on QB Blake Sims after he connected with DeAndrew White for a 58-yard TD pass.
I know the Tigers were feeling frustrated. From Jump Street they were unable to handle Alabama’s hurry-up offense, but Shane Ray went way beyond the pale when he hit Sims with the crown of his helmet.
Some Tigers’ fans absurdly point out that Ray charged Sims with his arms extended. Not so. Review of Jeff Rosen’s Vine clearly shows his arms were not fully extended. His helmet squarely hit Sims under the chin, lifted him off his feet and spun him mid-air. Not only that, the hit was late.
Under the rules, “using the crown of the helmet to tackle or initiating contact to the head or neck of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm or fist—will be ejected from the game, with a 15-yard penalty assessed, pending a review from the instant-play booth.”
The call was reviewed and upheld, but even after seeing the replay, Ray wasn’t convinced his ejection was warranted.
“I’m running to the quarterback, I was within two steps of the quarterback and I hit him as soon as he released. I didn’t lead with my helmet. I led with my hands and my head—if you look at the replay, it looks like my head is underneath his chin making contact with his chest. Unfortunately, I got called for targeting, and I can’t do anything about it. I tried to make a play, a physical hit, and I was the recipient of officiating.”
Just a week before against Arkansas, this same DE who is adamant he’s “not a dirty player”, blindsided Hogs’ QB Brandon Allen after the whistle had blown for a false start.
I give credit to Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel who said his coaches up top agreed with the official’s call on the field. "I think he had the crown of the head," Pinkel said. "That's what I was told. Our coaches upstairs saw it, and they agreed with it. So that's what it was."
Interviewed after the 42-13 win, Bama’s quarterback said of the call, "He hit me. I felt it, you know, he's a very big guy. He's a great player at the same time. He's just playing football the way he does and I have no (ill will) for him."