Football is a physical game, and the game is played extremely fast, so sometimes, guys get hurt. It’s simply part of the nature of the game, as defenders don’t have the benefit of simply being able to break a play down in slow motion before attempting to hit an opponent.
And it’s tough, because guys on that side of the ball — especially defensive backs — are tasked with blowing up plays, or attempting to break up passes.
That’s exactly what Clemson safety James Skalski was attempting to do in the national championship game on Monday night, when LSU receiver Justin Jefferson caught a pass over the middle, inside the 10-yard line. Skalski, however, led with the crown of his helmet, and he was hit with a personal foul for targeting — resulting in an automatic ejection.
Skalski did lead with his helmet, but in a game of this magnitude, ejecting the Tigers safety appeared to be a bit weak. It was a three-point game at the time, and LSU threw a touchdown pass to Thaddeus Moss on the play that followed — making that questionable penalty a turning point in the game.
Not having Skalski — the team’s leader on defense — on the field for the remainder of the game was a huge loss for Clemson, and Tigers fans were not happy about it.