LINCOLN — Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste said he won't alter his playing style after getting ejected for targeting two weeks ago.
The senior cornerback thought he maintained proper tackling form when he hit Purdue running back Dalyn Dawkins in the second quarter of the Huskers' 44-7 win on Oct. 12. He was trying to force an incompletion on a swing pass.
But the officiating crew viewed the play differently.
And Jean-Baptiste isn't going to argue now.
He's ready to move on. Because worrying about how the officials might interpret a play doesn't do any good, he said.
“Just keep playing 100 percent. Just keep going hard,” he said of his approach going forward. “You just can't go in and make a tackle playing soft, knowing that you might have a chance to miss it.”
Dialing back the aggressiveness isn't really in Jean-Baptiste's nature. Nor would it seem to be to his benefit.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has molded himself into one of the team's top play-makers by, preferring one-on-one assignments because he's often just as athletic as the receiver he's covering.
Jean-Baptiste invites contact, too, because he can muscle up. That's often been his way of setting a tone and inspiring his teammates. His favorite play of the season was a fourth-down pass breakup against Illinois, when he jarred the football loose by driving his shoulder into a receiver's back.
“He's the leader without being a vocal leader. He does all his leading by his play and game style,” sophomore cornerback Jonathan Rose said. “Soft-spoken player — but he hits hard. Of all the older guys in football I've learned from, he's one of the best.”
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An immediate ejection is the new punishment for a targeting penalty, a policy adopted by the NCAA this year. Video review upheld the call at Purdue, ending Jean-Baptiste's day with about seven minutes left in the second quarter.
He spent the rest of the afternoon in the visiting locker room. Mostly alone with his thoughts. He couldn't watch the game, but he'd occasionally recognize the roar of the Husker fans in the crowd after a positive play by his teammates.
“As long as we kept scoring, I kept hearing the crowd go off — so I was happy,” he said.
he was upbeat after practice Tuesday, too. Actually, senior Ciante Evans said Jean-Baptiste was back to his old self last week.
Several teammates have come to his defense in recent days, publicly commending Jean-Baptiste for the play. Coach Bo Pelini said a week ago that he was still a bit perplexed by the in-game ruling, even after watching several replays.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer talked about the topic Monday, saying that he hopes the NCAA will revisit the rule after the season. Buckeye cornerback Bradley Roby was ejected in the first half Saturday.
Jean-Baptiste would prefer to sidestep any controversy at this point, though. He doesn't want to focus on that one call, fearing that it might somehow influence his mentality. He said he's turned the page.
“My feelings toward it, I just had to let it go,” he said. “If it was a bad call or not, I just had to move forward and not let it bother me.”
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