When we first saw the video of UNC's Shakeel Rashad running over Duke's Conner Vernon, like most Duke fans, we thought it was clearly a cheap shot. And when we hear what sounded like whining out of Chapel Hill after Rashad was suspended, we were pretty sure we were right. But now we're not as sure and there are two reasons why.
First, when Rashad hits him, he's not really looking at him; he appears to be focusing on the ball. And secondly, when he turns around, it's not like Jack Tatum relishing a hard shot. His body language genuinely suggests surprise.
We're not excusing anything. Frankly, it's one of the dumbest things we've seen in football for a long time. Worse, it could have resulted in serious injury. We're just not sure that it was malicious.
You'd think there would be some rule about running onto the field behind the line of scrimmage when the other team is calling a play, that you have to enter the field from your team's side of the line. Apparently not.
No matter what his intent was, the officials certainly blew it and deserved to be suspended.