By Kevin Hampton
Oregon St. at Arizona
When: 7:15 p.m. Saturday
Line: Wildcats by 23
CORVALLIS — Oregon State will be without two defensive starters for the first half of Saturday’s football game at Arizona after cornerback Kyle White and linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu were both ejected for targeting during the Beavers’ 37-23 loss at California last Saturday.
A player is ejected from the game and automatically suspended for the first half of the next game for targeting. Beavers interim coach Cory Hall was asked if the penalty should be revised into different levels, such as the flagrant 1 and flagrant 2 fouls in the NBA.
“That’s something that probably should be on the table for discussion because as we were waiting for those decisions to be made, it’s is that just a 15-yard penalty or is that a 15-yard ejection or are they all just 15 yards and an ejection?” Hall said. “And then, how are we defining it? Because one was more violent than the other. Were you trying to protect the defender? Because at the end of the day, how he led with the (helmet), he was putting his own health at risk.”
Ugwoegbu’s ejection was particularly tough because it was a quick, bang-bang play and was not flagged by the officials.
“It’s very, very hard for an athlete to make a competitive play full speed — you’re making a full-speed decision and saying, ‘Oh, I’m not going to hit you,’ with seconds to think about it,” Hall said.
Hall said NFL players have been dealing with a similar situation and that he understands that the penalty is in place to protect the athletes.
“And I was telling someone the other day, that hits home with me a lot more than people know, just given my background,” said Hall, who played six seasons in the NFL. “I’ve seen things happen to players right in front of my face. So when you’re playing with head trauma or trying to figure out how to best protect the well-being of football players, for me, it hits home in a different way.”
With the automatic ejections in place, coaching staffs have to prepare to go down the depth chart on a moment’s notice.
“You look at the incident that happened with Kyle White — Omar (Hicks-Onu), who’s never played a down at corner, had to finish the game at corner. And I wouldn’t even say finish, he played the majority of the game,” Hall said. “You lose one of the better players on your team, obviously it’s going to have a heavy impact on the way you call plays and it’s going to have a heavy impact on your ability to match up in certain scenarios. But at the end of the day, it’s a part of the game.”
Hall played safety for Fresno State and in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons, developing a reputation as a fierce hitter who made receivers pay for catches over the middle.
“To be honest with you, I probably would have been ejected every game,” Hall said with a laugh. “Eventually I would have had to learn.”