The officials at the Duke-North Carolina game missed the apparent cheap shot given out by Tar Heels linebacker Shakeel Rashad on Duke receiver Conner Vernon, but the ACC office is giving it a closer look.
The incident happened when the Tar Heels were substituting on defense between plays as Duke was running its hurry-up attack. Rashad was coming off the sideline from behind Vernon, the ACC's all-time leader in receptions who was lining up at his receiver position.
(UPDATE: The ACC announced it has suspended Rashad for one game. Also, head linesman Tyrone Davis and side judge Angie Bartis were each suspended one game "for failure to adhere to correct mechanics of the game and rules related to player safety.")
We're sure the video could be interpreted in many ways, but it sure looks like Rashad leans in and intentionally nails Vernon.
It will be very tough for Rashad to argue he didn't mean to hit Vernon when he clearly leans his left shoulder into Vernon's back. At the very least, he does nothing to avoid contact with a defenseless player who was just lining up as usual and can't possibly assume someone coming off the sideline is going to drill him in the back.
The Raleigh News & Observer offered Duke coach David Cutcliffe's response after seeing the play on film:
"It's different than what was described to me during the game," Cutcliffe said of the run-in. "It was full speed, and there was no intent to avoid. We were going to turn it in but we understand now that the conference office is looking at it, and I'll be interested to see what they say.
"People have seen it, you've seen it on television, I've just never seen anything quite like it. I was amazed when I saw that this morning. I don't know, I'm kind of speechless about it. I've never had that happen in my entire career. Very unusual."
There was no penalty called on the play. The News & Observer's report said that Cutcliffe claims the officials told him Rashad was running backwards and bumped into Vernon.
Even though there was no flag, the ACC determined that Rashad deserved some punishment for hitting Vernon when he wasn't looking.
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