‘I think we’re maybe too physical for the Big 12’: Physicality stands out for Texas

Donnavan Smoot

Texas was reviewed for targeting not once, but twice against West Virginia on Saturday. The first instance came in the first quarter when sophomore safety B.J. Foster launched himself into West Virginia senior running back Kennedy McKoy. Foster’s hit sent both McKoy and him in opposite directions. Foster was flagged for a personal foul and then reviewed for targeting, which he understands for hits of such nature.

“I knew I was good,” Foster said. “They have to look at it on violent hits like that.”

Before being reviewed for targeting, Foster was involved in another play that resulted in a 15-yard personal foul being called.

Junior wide receiver T.J. Simmons had his helmet ripped off his head, yet no whistle was blown. So Foster went in and laid a hit on Simmons, immediately causing flags to fly. Foster says he plays until he hears a whistle.

“I definitely didn’t hear the whistle. I just kept going,” Foster said. “And by the time I realized his helmet was off, it was already too late.”

Along with Foster, sophomore kicker Cameron Dicker was also involved on a play reviewed for targeting. Dicker went for a tackle on redshirt freshman Sam James, trying to put his head in his chest.

“(I was) just trying to go in and just stop the guy,” Dicker said. “What happened happened and so it was up to the officials after that.”

Though Dicker’s tackle may be an anomaly, Foster has been in this situation before due to his play style. Last season, he was ejected for targeting in Week Three against USC. Foster and the rest of the defense have specifically addressed this issue so they can avoid losing personnel.

“We work on that in practice,” Foster said. “They tell us to run and hit, but be smart when you do it. Don’t just go in there head down like a maniac.”

The Saturday against West Virginia marked the return of Foster from injury. He had been out for two weeks with a hamstring injury he sustained in Week Two against LSU. With all the injuries in the secondary, he was able to provide a boost in Texas’ defense.

“It’s pretty awesome because we need a vet in there,” sophomore linebacker Joseph Ossai said. “Him coming back in there just gives us a little bit more confidence, and he’s able to do his thing.”

When Foster is “doing his thing,” the defense follows his lead. For opposing offenses, that isn’t such a good thing. However, Foster’s physical play style is a common theme among Texas defenders. Ossai says the team may even be too physical for their conference.

“I think we’re maybe too physical for the Big 12,” Ossai said. “I would say just watch the games. I would say no one is scared to hit. You can see it. We’re physical, and we’ll come in there and rough people up. It’s just what we do.”