One play received a lot of attention after North Carolina’s 27-10 loss against South Carolina on Thursday night.
With the Gamecocks leading 27-10 in the fourth quarter, Kiaro Holts, the Tar Heels right tackle, clipped Jadeveon Clowney, the All-American South Carolina defensive end.
Holts received a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the play, and Clowney limped off the field before later returning. The broadcasters on ESPN criticized the play as “dirty,” and it received some national attention on Friday. The outcry would have been far, far worse, of course, had Clowney been injured.
Nonetheless, UNC coach Larry Fedora defended Holts on Monday. Sort of. Fedora acknowledged that Holts made a “poor choice,” but said there was no “malicious intent” on the play.
Here’s Fedora’s full response when I asked whether he’d talked with Holts about the play:
“Oh, yeah. We talked to him. I mean, he got a personal foul. He clipped, but it was within the play – it was not after the play. We disciplined him, just like we do all of our players, for who gets a personal foul that hurts the football team. But if you really look at it, Kiaro got beat, he got beat bad. And he’s trying to recover and trying to cut the player.
“I don’t think he cared who it was. But he was trying to keep that guy away from Bryn (Renner). He doesn’t know that the ball is already thrown. He doesn’t know that the guy is already turning to look down the field. I mean, he’s just trying to recover. There was no malicious intent. All the conspiracy theories that are out there – there was no truth to any of that. The kid was just trying to make a play and he made a poor choice.
“And so yeah, he was disciplined within the team like we always do for personal fouls.”