As many fans and other observers noted soon after it happened, the hands-to-the-face penalty called against Washington offensive lineman Dexter Charles during Friday’s game seemed rather questionable.
The Pac-12 apparently agreed. UW coach Steve Sarkisian said the conference informed him that there should not have been a penalty called on that play.
The biggest gripe from UW partisans, of course, is that the penalty wiped out a 38-yard touchdown pass from Keith Price to Damore’ea Stringfellow. The damage was mitigated some by the fact that UW punted to UCLA’s 1-yard line, then forced a turnover and scored a touchdown shortly after.
“It’s tough because we already get penalized a lot. We get a lot of penalties and probably the majority of those, deservedly so,” Sarkisian said. “When you get one that isn’t, and is obviously very clear to see that it’s not a penalty, and not only is it not a penalty, it takes seven points off the board for you in a critical ballgame, it’s hard. But the reality is that one play is not the reason why we lost the game. Sure, would we have loved to have that touchdown? No doubt about it. But there’s other plays in there too that we could have helped ourselves better.”
Sarkisian expounded more on the penalty issue.
“I think our guys play really aggressive football but we have to be smarter,” he said. “And then trusting our technique in my opinion is part of it. I think to one play in particular the pass interference on Marcus Peters on the far sideline. He’s in awesome position. He’s in great position. If he turns around he’s going to intercept the pass. I think it’s just the believe of knowing when we do things right we’re capable of being right. But when we grab face masks and when we get pass interference penalties and when we false start, those are self inflicted wounds that we don’t need to do to ourselves and so we’ll continue to work at it. Again, I’ve looked at every area and every aspect of this thing and one thing that is a little frustrating on our end. We are the most penalized team. But if you take our opponent’s penalties, they are the least penalized opponents in the conference. That part’s a little discouraging to me.
“I’m all about officiating the game equally. If we’re going to have 11 penalties and UCLA is going to have eight, it is what it is, but when you go into ballgames and one team has 10 and the other has two and things of that nature, that’s when it gets frustrating on our end because I don’t think our guys are maliciously out there holding or committing pass interference penalties.
“You’d just like to see it called equally for everybody. Whether that happens all the time or not, I’m not sure.”