IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Ask Lovie Smith a direct question and you’ll likely get a direct answer.
Therefore, when he was asked Saturday evening if he believed the hit by Iowa defensive back Geno Stone on Brandon Peters was targeting, all that was required was a one-word response.
“Absolutely,” the Illini fourth-year head coach said. “Most of us in that locker room probably did.”
On a third-and-nine play near the end of the game, Peters rolled to his right and attempted a pass that went incomplete. After the pass exited his hand, Stone launched his shoulder above the neck area of Peters’ body with most of the impact ending up in Peters’ face. The result of the play was no personal foul penalty to Stone, either for targeting or a late hit on the quarterback and Illinois training staff immediately leading the signal-caller into the locker room. These two facts were the most disturbing to Smith as he looks for justice on a hit that he felt was illegal in more than one way.
“They [the referees] saw it and I haven’t had replay. I thought at the time, at minimum, late hit,” Smith said. “We had two many opportunities. We were down nine points. The game was lost earlier.”
Stone, who was playing in his final game at Kinnick Stadium Saturday, has 19 career starts at safety and is third on the team with 57 tackles and sixth on the team with three tackles for loss. If he would’ve been flagged for a targeting foul on that play, Stone would’ve been disqualified for the remainder of the game Saturday and been forced to sit in the first half of the Hawkeyes regular-season finale at Nebraska this coming Friday.
Saturday represented the second game the Michigan transfer has been unable to finish a game. Peters left the 40-17 loss at Minnesota on Oct. 5 with what was later classified as concussion symptoms. Following the injury at Minnesota Peters was forced to miss the following home game against Michigan.
Due to being knocked out of the loss Saturday at Iowa, Peters was not made available to the media following the contest. Illinois tailback Dre Brown said in his post-game interview that he hadn’t seen Peters in the locker room before coming in to talk to reporters but said he believed the hit was both late and targeting to Peters’ head.
Peters will now have less than seven days to get himself medically cleared for the regular-season finale home game against Northwestern (2-9, 0-8 in Big Ten) for an 11 a.m. kickoff this coming Saturday.