By TOM LEA
MADISON – Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said he thought Chris Borland’s 15-yard roughing the passer personal foul wasn’t dirty, even though the junior middle linebacker seemed to shake up the Gophers freshman quarterback Philip Nelson when he tackled him low.
In Kill’s eyes, Borland was just playing through the whistle.
“He’s a heck of a football player. I don’t think he did that intentionally or anything of that nature,” Kill said. “When you’re a defensive player and you play your tail end off sometimes you don’t ever hear the whistle blow out there. You don’t know when to stop.”
It turns out Borland didn’t know a whole lot during his thought process during that play.
Coming free on a blitz from Nelson’s backside, Borland eventually brought the quarterback down below the knees. Nelson, who completed a touchdown pass on the play, was slow to get up after the hit.
Replays made it seem as though Borland could have hit the quarterback higher up, but he ultimately decided to go low.
According to Borland, who received a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty against UTEP earlier this season, he didn’t know where he could hit the quarterback without garnering a roughing penalty.
“You’ve got to go low to avoid a penalty, but I guess you’ve got to look for his flag to pull or something,” Borland, making a flag football reference, said. “I don’t know how to go after him. I understand them (officials) protecting their (quarterback’s) heads, but there’s only so much body there.
“I’ve got to hit something.”
When Borland went to sideline his head coach let him know how he felt about the play.
“I let him have it pretty good,” Bielema said. “The one thing he said to me (was), ‘Coach, when I launched, when I left my feet, the ball was in his hands.’ But obviously I think in that situation they’re really trying to protect the quarterback.
“I’ve been emphasizing that and I’ll send in plays. I definitely told him one more of those and he might be sitting next to me for a while.”
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