Clemson starting linebacker James Skalski was dismissed from the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Friday for focusing on a hard hit to Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in the second quarter.
Skalski went to tackle Fields and seemed to lower the crown of his helmet as he went to wrap up, hitting Fields hard in his side. The call was not made on the field, yet rather went higher up to the replay corner and was made there.
Fields remained down for a few minutes and missed a play prior to getting back to toss a touchdown pass. Ohio State coach Ryan Day revealed to ESPN’s Maria Taylor that Fields didn’t have to go through X-rays during halftime.
Fields said after Ohio State’s 49-28 win that he got two shots while in the injury tent quickly following the play and that his entire right side hurt, in spite of the fact that he didn’t yet have an official diagnosis.
“I wasn’t really able to run. It would really hurt every time I threw the ball,” he said. “So I would just, you know, not really worry about that during the play and just deal with the pain after the throw. Of course, when you’re in the play and you’re going through your reads and stuff like that and you’re about to throw the ball, you’re not worried about your side hurting. You’re just playing football. But, of course, after each and every throw, my ribs hurt for sure.”
The transmission demonstrated Skalski moving toward Fields and the two embracing after the game.
“It wasn’t anything intentional,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of the hit. “But, listen, the letter of the rule or technicalities of the rule, they’re going to apply it. … He was just trying to make a football play, and it’s unfortunate.”
Losing its leader, Skalski, was an enormous hit to the Clemson defense. He was additionally shot out for focusing during a year ago’s national championship game against LSU in a similar stadium, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“He’s one of the best players. It’s like losing Trevor Lawrence. It was a tough play. It was a tough break,” Swinney said.