University of Miami

Miami safety Amari Carter one targeting foul from automatic NCAA-mandated suspension

Miami Hurricanes junior safety Amari Carter, who was flagged Friday for his second targeting infraction of the season, is now one targeting penalty away from being suspended for an entire game.

But University of Miami coach Manny Diaz defended Carter on Monday, indicating how difficult it is to interpret the targeting rule and be a defensive player trying to avoid the penalty during violent plays that transpire in an instant.

“We do not have a better human being on our football team [than] Amari Carter,’’ Diaz said. “He is as good of a kid as we have on this team. So to feel like a bad guy for what has happened to him this year is unfair. But we all understand the rules of the game. Every year we’re trying to refine the targeting rule to try to make it more fair on the defensive football players.”

UM (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) meets Georgia Tech (1-5, 0-3) at noon Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.

The NCAA rule book defines targeting as a player taking aim at an opponent “for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball,” such as “leading with the helmet’’ or “lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet.”

Any player called for targeting is disqualified from that game, and must sit out the first half of the next game if the penalty occurred in the second half. And per a new rule in 2019, any player charged with his third targeting penalty in a single season will be suspended the entire next game — even if it’s the first game of the next season.

In addition to his targeting infraction against Virginia, Carter was penalized for targeting at North Carolina.

“With Amari being disqualified trying to make a play in the end zone, what’s the message to the defense about going forward on critical plays like that?” Diaz was asked.

“I mentioned this before: No one has taken the head out of the tackle more than we do here at Miami,’’ Diaz said. “That is taught from when our guys step on campus from Day One. It’s a hard rule, and it’s a hard rule to officiate. We’ve asked for some clarification, because the issue is, when you’re talking about a rule that results in disqualification from technique, that is very rare in all of sports.

“The issue with Amari is, Amari has had two. The one at North Carolina, his eyes dropped, but he tried to pull out of the hit. The one on Friday night, he absolutely tried to pull out of the hit. ... If you watch in slow motion and you’re looking at whose helmet hit whose head first, the receiver’s helmet hits Amari in the head as Amari is trying to turn out and lead with his shoulder.

“And as a fussy ex-defensive coach, my question would be, ‘Where does a player’s safety favor the offensive player or a defensive player?’ I understand the offensive player is deemed defenseless... It’s hard to say why one guy’s player safety is valued over the other.”

Diaz also indicated earlier Monday during a WQAM radio interview that Carter staying on the field after he was ejected was “simply a miscommunication thing — there was no [malicious] intent.’’

In six games this season, Carter has 17 tackles, an interception and pass breakup.

Trajan Bandy honored

Miami Hurricanes junior cornerback Trajan Bandy was named the ACC Defensive Back of the Week on Monday for his play in Miami’s 17-9 victory against Virginia, the conference office announced Monday.

Bandy, who made his sixth start this season and 22nd of his career, had six tackles and recovered a fumble against the Cavaliers.

Bandy also had his third sack of the season to help kill Virginia’s final drive of the game.

“Pretty cool,’’ Diaz said. “Congratulations to Trajan, who has really been working hard, and I thought played his best game Friday night.

“The No. 1 thing that Trajan did a great job of was his urgency. He played extraordinarily hard. When he was tested in coverage he did a good job in coverage. For a team that has got to find a way to win the game in the fourth quarter, you’re looking for the guys that can make the play. You don’t always know who that’s going to be and what role it’s going to be. So, how huge when Trajan comes through on the blitz and gets a sack on [Bryce] Perkins, a guy that is so difficult to get on the ground.

“As everyone knows, sacks in the one-minute drill are drive killers. And they were out of timeouts, so for him to be able to make that play in that moment and just to have that sort of competitive excellence helped carry us through the victory.”

Other Diaz notables from Monday’s news conference:

On receiver/quarterback Tate Martell and how Diaz views him, and if the coach foresees him sticking with the Hurricanes:

“Tate loves Miami. Tate loves it here. We love Tate. Tate is a hard-working guy, one of the hardest-working guys in our program. He is learning the nuances of playing wide receiver because there’s a lot to that. But he’s also a team guy and jumps right back in and take snaps at quarterback which is what he’s done a week ago. I think Tate is just enjoying being here, enjoying being in our program and just wants to be on a winning team and do everything it takes to help us win.”

Defensive coordinator Blake Baker said UM does not plan on redshirting freshman linebacker Sam Brooks, who has played in four games this season, the maximum allowed if a player is to redshirt. “We need Sam to play,’’ Baker said. “He’s getting better and better.’’

The ACC announced that Miami’s Oct. 26 game at Pittsburgh will kick off at noon and be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.