By LARRY VAUGHT
During quarterback Stephen Johnson’s 34-yard run in the first quarter Saturday, Kentucky freshman receiver was hustling to make a downfield block — the kind of thing receivers coach Lamar Thomas expects from his players.
Bowden was called for targeting and ejected from the game after the official review of the play.
Most UK fans didn’t like the call.
Neither did former UK tight end Jacob Tamme, who was at the game to help honor wounded veterans as part of Heroes’ Day at Kroger Field.
“No way college football. That is not a defenseless player. Wow,” Tamme posted on Twitter after the play.
Bowden had two kickoff returns for 51 yards before being ejected. Those were the first two times the highly-touted freshman had touched the ball — and he had indicated on Twitter last week he was no happy he didn’t get a touch in the win at Southern Mississippi.
Bowden had to leave the field and once again he took to Twitter. However, it was only this tweet until after the game ended: “My guys got this watch them from the inside #BBN,” Bowden tweeted.
Teammate Derrick Baitty admitted that Bowden’s ejection had an impact on the team.
“As a team, we were moving so slow and Lynn was moving fast. He was moving so fast that he got ejected out of the game and it set a fire to us. We knew that we had to back up our brother,” Baitty said.
Stoops has been known to disagree with officials. I wondered what he thought of the call and ejection, so I asked him after the game if he had an opinion on the call.
“I had a strong opinion that it was going to stand. No, I had a strong opinion I agreed with them. It’s unfortunate. Again, it’s a young guy with some inexperience. It was nothing malicious. He tried to lead with his shoulder. He tried to hit the shoulder. But as the rule states, if you make any contact with that face … ,” Stoops said.
“It was nothing malicious, like I said. He really tried to make a good block. He did make some contact. There wasn’t a lot. It wasn’t a brutal hit or anything like that. But if you make any contact with head-to-head, they’re going to call that on an unprotected player. It’s unfortunate more than anything because, you know, you saw he had some touches on the kick returns. We really wanted to get him going.
“It stinks for him. I feel bad, but it was just an honest mistake. We talk about it all the time, just with peel-back blocks, whether it’s kick return, punt return, even an interception, guys want to peel back and take somebody out. You can’t do that any more. We really emphasize that. Like I said, it was really unfortunate because he made some contact with the head there. ”
While Stoops didn’t want Bowden’s game to end so soon, he supports the targeting rule.
“I agree with it anymore because we got to get the head injuries out of the game as much as possible. I think it’s really helped. We haven’t had one for a long time. I can’t remember when the last time we had somebody kicked out for targeting. It’s been a few years,” Stoops said.