Following Troy’s 41-34 loss to Arkansas State, head coach Larry Blakeney addressed the player-safety penalties enforced on his team.
Twice Troy made key defensive stops and were flagged for personal fouls.
The first came in the second quarter when linebacker De’Von Terry made a physical hit on Arkansas State wide receiver J.D. McKissic on a third down play. Replay clearly showed Terry hit McKissic with his shoulder. The stop would have forced the Red Wolves to attempt a field goal. Instead, the penalty gave ASU another shot from the Troy 9 where quarterback Rayn Aplin found Taylor Stockemer in the end zone.
The second questionable call came on a first and goal play for Arkansas State at the Troy 10. Safety Brynden Trawick dislodged the ball from tight end Darion Griswold’s hands in the end zone. After the penalty, ASU ran it in from five yards out to extend their lead to 34-23.
“To me, what’s happening with the helmet to helmet and the being too aggressive and all that kind of stuff. This game is not for everybody. There are some big, strong suckers playing this game out there. When you tell them within six or eight inches where they’ve got to hit a guy. I mean, and they’re both moving at 100 mile per hour. What the hell do y’all think? Huh? I don’t think it’s fair to the officials is what I think. We’ve got seven guys out there. When we throw a slant or when they throw a slant to a weak side slot receiver, there is a guy standing 50 yards from him that’s got to make a call on that play, whether he got interfered with or not. I mean that’s not very good mechanics. That’s not their fault, they’re doing their job. I don’t think any official anywhere that I know of is trying to hurt a team by making a call. But, I do think we are in some dangerous territory with this game. We can take the helmets off, put a leather helmet on or do some things, put flags on them and you jerk them off or whatever.”
“I just think that the game, as it is today, we’re treading on some thin ice.”
Troy has twice been called for kick catch interference this season (Louisiana-Lafayette, Florida Atlantic) on plays where the officials ruled that Trojan defenders did not give the punt returner a chance to catch the ball despite the fact that both times, the returner actually caught the ball. Both times the ensuing drive has led to touchdowns against Troy.
“It’s very difficult and just a few inches difference in some things that are legal and some things that are illegal. This game has evolved through a period of time when the physical aspect has been expected and part of it. All of a sudden, a guy has got to measure when he’s 36 inches from a punt catcher. Not 35, that’s a penalty. Not 37, that’s not a penalty. And you tell me that a guy standing 15-20 yards from that guy is humanly able to do that, to discern that? No, he is not. So, the rule is bad. The rule is bad, not the officials.”
Blakeney went on to give his thoughts on those types of rules in general.
“The rules are obviously slanted towards the health of the student athlete. I don’t know. What do you do? There are some big, strong people playing this game and they play fast and when they run into each other they make a lot of noise. Sometimes it hurts one or the other. Sometimes it hurts both. Maybe not deathly hurt, but there are some serious collisions that cause some serious problems, I’m sure, over a period of time. Nobody is mandated to play this game, at any level. I don’t have the answers, I do have some opinions though.”