LOS ANGELES — One didn’t earn a penalty and one did, but two controversial incidents of targeting between UCLA and Hawaii last Saturday might leave the Bruins without two of their starting linebackers for this week’s game against Memphis.
Senior Kenny Young, who was forced out of last Saturday’s game after getting leveled on a blindside block, will go through the concussion protocol this week as the Bruins (2-0) prepare for their first road game of the year against Memphis on Saturday.
The hit that knocked Young out the game ultimately did not draw a penalty after referees determined it was “shoulder to shoulder.” While Young could miss playing time due to a no-call, junior Josh Woods will be suspended for the first half against the Tigers (1-0) after he was called for targeting in the fourth quarter.
Coach Jim Mora said the team will “err on the side of caution” with all head injuries, including Young’s and the one safety Jaleel Wadood suffered in the second half after taking an accidental knee to the head. Their statuses for Saturday will be dependent on their progress through the concussion protocol.
Combined with a knee injury to safety Adarius Pickett, the Bruins might be without four defensive starters when Saturday’s game kicks off at 9 a.m. Pickett sustained what looked like a non-contact knee injury early in the second quarter after he jumped and landed awkwardly on his right leg.
During the Pac-12 Networks TV broadcast, David Coleman, the Pac-12 vice president of officiating, agreed with the on-field, no targeting ruling on Young’s hit. However, video showed Hawaii tight end Metuisela ’Unga’s helmet making direct contact with the side of Young’s face mask, which caused the UCLA linebacker’s head to snap sideways and his helmet to fly off before he hit the ground.
“That was a vicious, violent intentional hit on a defenseless player — it was the definition of targeting, the absolute definition,” said Mora, who added that the Pac-12 Conference will release a statement on the play. “It was clear, it was concise, it was beyond reproach that it was a violent, flagrant target and for some reason the process failed.”
Woods was ejected after his shoulder hit Hawaii receiver Kalakaua Timoteo’s helmet on a pass breakup in the end zone. Timoteo started crouching down to secure a pass when Woods came through on the hit. Mora said his player was trying to turn his body to avoid the penalty.
“By the definition of…