RALEIGH — N.C. State coach Dave Doeren didn’t like the new targeting penalty in college football before Saturday’s 27-19 loss to North Carolina.
He’s really not a fan of it after it cost the Wolfpack senior linebacker D.J. Green in the first quarter.
“I think that rule is a bad rule,” Doeren said. “I think that has been expressed by a lot of coaches. It’s not evenly officiated.”
Green was ejected after he was flagged for “targeting” the head of UNC quarterback Marquise Williams at the end of a 3-yard run at 4:46 in the first quarter.
By rule, the play was reviewed and the ejection was held up after the replay showed Green knocked Williams’ helmet off.
Later in the third quarter, UNC cornerback Jabari Price was flagged for the same penalty after a collision with N.C. State quarterback Brandon Mitchell.
After the play was reviewed, Price’s ejection was overturned but the penalty was upheld.
“It’s a judgement call and there is too many margins for error with that rule change,” Doeren said.
“I just don’t get it. I don’t think it’s fair on the officials. I think it’s something that needs to be changed at the end of the season.”
Green had two tackles, including one for a nine-yard loss before he was ejected. His replacement, Rodman Noel finished the game with a team-best 10 tackles. Price also had 10 tackles for UNC.
UNC coach Larry Fedora agreed it was a difficult call for officials to make.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the officials,” Fedora said. “It’s a bang-bang play and they’re trying to protect the defenseless player. They don’t know. They really don’t know, it happens so quick. You have to look at it on film five times to figure out if it really is.”
QUESTIONS AT QB: Brandon Mitchell started his third game of the season for N.C. State but got pulled in the fourth quarter by coach Dave Doeren after he threw his second interception in the fourth quarter with N.C. State down 27-19.
Mitchell had a lot of time on second and 12 from the N.C. State 23-yard line but forced a throw into coverage. UNC safety Brian Walker came down with the interception at State’s 44-yard line at 10:53 in the fourth.
Junior Pete Thomas relieved Mitchell and completed 4 of 7 passes for 46 yards on two drives. Thomas started five games for Mitchell, when Mitchell was out with a broken foot.
Doeren said he will have a decision to make before next Saturday’s game at Duke.
“I’m emotional right now,” Doeren said. “I know I’m probably not going to say exactly how I feel. I’ll watch the tape, we’ll sit down as coaches and make the best decision for our football team.”
Mitchell finished the game 10 of 22 for 130 yards with the two interceptions. He did become the first State quarterback since 1976 to run for 100 yards (105 yards) but it wasn’t any solace to Mitchell after the game.
“I turned the ball over twice and that was two plays in the game that hurt us,” Mitchell said. “We had a chance to win, I just cost my team a win.”
In two games back since the injury, Mitchell is 27 of 55 for 258 yards with four interceptions and no touchdowns.
NOTES: Junior receiver Bryan Underwood did not play Saturday and will miss the rest of the season with a broken collarbone, according to Doeren. Underwood, who leads the team in receptions (32) and receiving yards (382) is the four starter who has been ruled out for the season.
Doeren also said that freshman receiver Johnathon Alston will miss the rest of the season with a broken elbow.