UK Recruiting

One of Kentucky’s key defensive players ejected from Toledo game for targeting

Sophomore linebacker Chris Oats is expected to be one of Kentucky’s top defensive players this season.
Sophomore linebacker Chris Oats is expected to be one of Kentucky’s top defensive players this season. AP

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Kentucky linebacker Chris Oats was ejected in the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Toledo for targeting.

Oats — a 6-foot-3, 231-pound sophomore — delivered a high hit on Toledo quarterback Mitchell Guadagni as he was sliding to the ground after a scramble. Guadagni’s helmet came off as a result of the hit, and the play was called a dead ball personal foul with targeting on the field, and it was confirmed after a video replay.

As a result of the play, Oats was ejected. The starting linebacker had 27 total tackles last year and is expected to be one of UK’s key defensive players this season. He will miss the first half of next week’s Eastern Michigan game as a result of the ejection.

At the time of his ejection, Oats was tied for second on the team with five tackles against Toledo.

“It’s tough,” UK Coach Mark Stoops said after the game. “I think you all know that. You see the issues nationwide, so it’s just a tough call. It’s tough. You know, they review it. I’m quite confident in the committee. And that goes back to the SEC office, so that was looked at by a lot of people. If they upheld the call, that’s what it is. So I thought initially when I watched it during the game that Chris was throwing an arm just to protect him, but he didn’t. I think as long as we’re trying to wrap up, that’s a tough call. I’m not complaining about it being thrown and I’m not complaining about Chris, because I think he was hustling.

“It’s very difficult to know when the quarterback is going down the slide and if he’s going to slide. As long as they’re going to wrap up and our head is up and trying to play clean, then it’s just going to happen sometimes. It’s in our game. It’s, you know, for the well-being and the safety of our student-athletes, so it is what it is. I support it.”

The Rockets kicked a field goal to cap the drive in which Oats was ejected. That cut Kentucky’s lead to 24-17 late in the third quarter. UK went on to win, 38-24.

Guadagni did not return to the game after the hit. He was 7-for-12 passing for 122 yards and had a few big plays on the ground, going for 73 yards and one touchdown before his exit from the game.

Ben Roberts covers UK basketball, football and other sports for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in UK basketball recruiting for the past several years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts.
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