ATHENS — Dominick Sanders, one of Georgia’s top defensive players, was ejected for targeting in the second half of Saturday’s game. While his team survived his absence, it will have to do so again in two weeks.
By rule, Sanders will also miss the first half of Georgia’s next game, against Florida on Oct. 31. That takes away from Georgia’s defense the only defensive back who has started every game since the beginning of last season.
Sanders was called for targeting with 7:35 left in the third quarter of Saturday’s game, with Georgia trailing Missouri, 6-3. The play occurred on third down; Sanders jumped at the Missouri receiver on the sideline and their helmets collided. The ball was knocked out, seeming to end Missouri’s drive, but then the flag was thrown.
The call was upheld after a short review.
Coach Mark Richt said that after watching the play it was probably the right call, as it was helmet-to-helmet. But he had forgotten that a second-half targeting means a first-half suspension for the next game until he was reminded.
“That stinks,” Richt said.
Georgia senior linebacker Jake Ganus said he was about 20 yards away, also acknowledged it was a “tough call,” but said his teammate had no malicious intent.
“There’s no intent to hurt the receiver or anything like that,” Ganus said. “Dom is a great player, he’s one of the most competitive people I know, and he was just trying to make a play. I think he did hit the head, but he was clearly just trying to make a play. He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone.”
Georgia’s defense still managed to get off the field on the next series, and didn’t allow another point.
“Dominick’s a huge part of our defense,” fellow sophomore Sony Michel, a tailback, said. “It sucks that he’s missing the first half. But good thing he’s not missing the whole game.”