Posted: 11:57 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013
By Brian Barbour
The lone "controversy" from Thursday night's game against South Carolina, well, outside of all the hand-wringing over Jadeveon Clowney's conditioning.UNC's Kiaro Holts clips Clowney at the tail end of a play earning him a personal foul and the disdain of pretty much everyone who saw it.
As you might imagine this drew a strong rebuke from pretty much everyone, Tar Heel fans included. It was a dangerous play considering Clowney wasn't looking and Holts caught the Gamecock defensive lineman's knee in just the right way to possibly blow it out.
Larry Fedora was asked about the incident on Monday during his weekly press conference.
Was there any disciplinary action taken out on Kiaro Holts after his clip on Jadeveon Clowney?
“Yeah, we talked to him. He got a personal foul. He clipped but it was within the play. It was not after the play. We disciplined him just like we do with all of our players who get a personal foul that hurt the football team. But if you really look at it, Kiaro got beat and he got beat bad. He’s trying to recover and trying to cut the player. I don’t think he cared who it was but he was trying to keep that guy away from Bryn (Renner). He doesn’t know the ball’s already been thrown. He doesn’t know the guy is already turning to look down the field. He’s just trying to recover. There was no malicious intent. All of the conspiracy theories that are out there, there was no truth to any of that. The kid was just trying to make a play and he made a poor choice.”
It is not surprising that Fedora is defending his player. He notes it was a "poor choice" and opted to follow the team policy of meting out discipline for any personal foul committed in a game. Fedora also deflects the notion that Holts did so with malicious intent and chalks the play up to Holts making a bad split-second decision in the name of protecting his quarterback.
I can't imagine Fedora is going to find many buyers of what he is selling here which is not shocking. People made their mind up what it was the moment it happened. Fedora's angle is that yes, Holts did what he did intentionally because he was trying to stop Clowney from getting to Renner. In doing so Holts made a really bad decision to take Clowney's legs out in a way that could have injured him. That alone probably warrants some serious decision because at best Holts didn't care about what might happen to Clowney and at worst Holts had in mind to injure the possible #1 pick the 2014 NFL Draft.
Interestingly, this bears some similarity to the infamous Gerald Henderson elbow to Tyler Hansbrough's face. Depending on who you talk to Henderson was either a dirty, cheap thug hellbent on injuring Hansbrough or merely acted recklessly without regard for the consequences. In that case and in this one with Holts I think it is the latter. Holts wasn't looking to injure Clowney but he did engage in reckless behavior without regard to the potential consequences to another player. I am also probably splitting hairs here because in the end it is still an awful play that could have cost Clowney millions of dollars.
In Henderson's case, such a reckless action resulted in a one game suspension and Holts probably should be looking at the same.In fact, if the ACC was willing to sit Shakeel Rashad a game for this far more ambiguous hit on Duke's Connor Vernon last October then it stands to reason Holts should face a similar penalty. As it stands right now, the 15-yard flag and Larry Fedora's internal discipline appears to be the final word on the matter.
What say you? Should Holts be suspended for one game?