The number of enforced targeting penalties is down 32% in the Football Bowl Subdivision compared with the first seven weeks of the 2018 season.
Targeting, the act of striking a defenseless opponent above the shoulders or using the crown of the helmet to contact an opponent, has been one of the college game's biggest player-safety concerns for a decade.
The NCAA said Wednesday there have been 132 targeting penalties called in the FBS. Of those, 83 were enforced and 49 were overturned on video review. There were 171 targeting penalties called at this point in 2018. Of those, 122 were enforced and 49 were overturned.
National coordinator of officials Rogers Redding points to three possible factors for the decline: More players are using better tackling technique; players are mindful of a new rule calling for a full-game suspension if a player commits three targeting fouls in the same season; and video review officials are required to overturn targeting calls if any element of the penalty cannot be confirmed.
Previously, video review officials could let the call on the field stand.
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