Midway through the second quarter agaisnt Nevada, Tim Jernigan was called for a penalty that up until Saturday afternoon, he didn't even know existed.
"I didn't even know you could get a penalty for playing without your helmet," said Jernigan after the game. "This is the game of football, for Christ's sake."
Yes, it is, but a fairly newfound emphasis on player safety dictates you can't continue a play without your helmet, which Jerngian did on 3rd and two as Nevada's Devin Combs was sacked by Dan Hicks.
After getting his helmet popped off (a penalty in and of itself), Jernigan continued to give chase on the play, eventually stopping just short of Combs as he was dragged down on the play.
Sadly this was considered an egregious penalty, a personal foul no less and Nevada was bailed out with fifteen yards and a free first down.
"I was taught my whole life to play to the whistle so I was playing as hard as I can," said Jernigan. "I was just trying to get to the quarterback."
So how does one coach that? Surely you can't fault the effort or tenacity of a player who just charged full speed through an opposing offensive line helmetless and was willing to put flesh on the line to make a play.
"Coach Fisher was just like 'you've got to learn the game, you can't do that,'" said Jernigan. "He was like 'I like the way you're playing as far as just trying to make the play and giving it everything you got but that's the rule,' so I've got abide by the rule."
But how DID the helmet get ripped off?
"I feel like it should have been a flag, but hey that's the game," joked Jernigan. "I can't make the calls, that's the ref's job to make the calls. My job is just to make plays."
Jernigan also lost his helmet a quarter later.
"Same thing, man," he said, eyes rolling.
Fortunately for Florida State (and probably the health of Jernigan's exposed head), he learned his lesson the second time around and was not flagged.
Still as the ACC reviews the tape of this game, they may want to make a concerted effort to try and figure out who's pulling helmets off in the future too, rather than just punishing the guy who lost one...
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