Instinct or self-defense?
Or was Wilbur Hackett Jr. just reliving his days as a linebacker at Kentucky?
Somewhere in the answers to those three questions lies an explanation for why a Southeastern Conference umpire is a YouTube.com phenomenon this week.
Hackett landed in the spotlight — but not in hot water — when he inadvertently (apparently) logged an assisted tackle against South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia during LSU’s 24-17 triumph against the Gamecocks Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Late in the first half, South Carolina’s Carlos Thomas intercepted a Jarrett Lee pass and returned it to the Tigers’ 8-yard-line. On the Gamecocks’ first snap, Garcia took a shotgun snap and ran to the right side on an option read play.
Garcia cut back against the grain and seemed to have an angle and open path toward the end zone, but Hackett at first held his ground and then appeared to plant his feet and unload a forearm shiver on the Gamecocks QB.
That slowed Garcia down enough for LSU safety Curtis Taylor to level Garcia at the 4.
The Gamecocks scored two plays later to take a 17-10 lead, but only after a hold-your-breath moment for USC fans when Garcia bobbled a third-down snap.
LSU coach Les Miles joked about the play Monday.
“We told (Hackett), ‘Listen, you’ve got to use your flipper, you’ve got to use your forearm, but then once you have contact, you gotta wrap up,’ ” Miles said, tongue-in-cheek. “He didn’t wrap up.
“I want you to know that we were disappointed in his effort to be honest with you. We felt like he could knock him down a little bit.”
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wasn’t as jovial, but also didn’t fault Hackett.
“He was trying to get out of the way,” Spurrier said. “Stephen sort of cut back right into him. Sometimes that will happen.”
Hackett is no stranger to tackling quarterbacks.
He was a prep star in Louisville in the mid-1960s and spent three seasons at Kentucky, where is credited with being one of the SEC’s first black team captains. He has been an SEC official since 1998.
SEC Coordinator of Officials Rogers Redding reviewed the play and determined that Hackett was protecting himself on the play and no disciplinary action will he taken.
“That happens so regularly in games,” Miles said. “Sometimes the ball breaks right at him, and it’s very difficult. Certainly, everybody in this room would look to defend themselves, and I’m certain that’s what he was thinking when that ball came at him.”
Moving the chains
LSU has won six consecutive games against top-10 ranked teams, including a 26-21 triumph at then ninth-ranked Auburn on Sept. 20. … LSU and Georgia have combined to claim five of the last seven SEC Championships — the Tigers in 2001, ’03 and ’07, the Bulldogs in 2002 and ’05. The teams also rank 1-2 in overall wins in that stretch, LSU with 61 and Georgia with 57. … This is the Bulldogs middle game of a three-game stretch against ranked foes. Georgia beat No. 22 Vanderbilt 24-14 last week and collides with No. 7 Florida next week in Jacksonville, Fla. The last time the ’Dogs squared off with three straight ranked opponents was 1969 (No. 3 Tennessee, No. 13 Florida, No. 11 Auburn). … Georgia’s defense has recorded 14 scoreless quarters this season and has limited four opponents to under 60 yards rushing.
Thanks but no thanks, ref!!! We can handle it without your help! =)
Best of luck to the Tigers this weekend as they take on the Georgia Bulldogs!!! Hopefully we can break back into the top 10 with a W