Kickers generally stay out of the fray. They’re never the biggest players on the field — they’re often the smallest, in fact — and they don’t train to tackle like the other special teams members.
That’s why, Saturday night against Stanford, it likely came as a surprise to the USC sideline to hear that No. 48 was being called for targeting on the opening kickoff. That would be Parker Lewis, the team’s kicker.
The penalty for targeting is an ejection, meaning USC would have to turn to another kicker for the rest of the game.
“All the four components [for targeting] are there,” Fox analyst Spencer Tillman said on the game broadcast. “And everybody wants to celebrate the kicker because you don’t expect him to put his head in there. We used to refer to receivers and kickers as pencil-necks.”
Targeting calls — and non-calls — often come with controversy, but there was no debating this call. Lewis clearly led with the crown of his helmet and he made forcible contact with the head or neck area of a defenseless player. Cardinal returner Nathaniel Peat was clearly headed toward the ground.
Lewis isn’t your ordinary kicker in terms of size. He stands 6-3 and weighs 205 pounds, two inches and 10 pounds larger than Peat.
Had the penalty come in the second half, Lewis would have been out for the first half of USC’s next game as well. But because it came in the first half, and on the first play of the game at that, he only has to sit out the rest of Saturday’s game.
Alex Stadthaus took over the kicking duties for USC. He kicked a PAT and then booted a touchback on the ensuing kickoff.
After this week’s ejection, there’s a good chance Trojans coach Clay Helton will ask Lewis to hang back and be the absolute last option to make a tackle.