Football is inherently violent. There’s no way to describe the game as something other than people smashing other people over and over again. Predominantly, that sort of smashing is done when one player is using his head to make contact with another.

In the modern age of college football, there’s leading with your head, then there’s leading with your head in a way that “targets” an opponent. The targeting penalty, by definition: A penalty is called if a player uses the crown of his helmet to strike an opponent above the shoulders or strikes the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with a helmet, forearm, hand, elbow or shoulder.

Basically, don’t hit someone who is blind to the contact, nor is the player meant to lead with his head while pointing it around the neck area. It is just a big no-no and a way the sport is trying to implement some safety into a thing that is otherwise violent by nature.

According to national coordinator of officials Rogers Redding, the emphasis on making sure this safety measure is being used is apparently rising in use. On Wednesday, Redding reported that 55 targeting penalties have been enforced in 214 games (0.26 per game). Last year at this time, 35 targeting penalties had been enforced in 230 games (0.15).

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That’s nearly double the amount in terms of average. It is a 73 percent increase season-over-season.

In terms relative to what it might mean, this could be a sign that penalizing the “targeting” won’t actually prevent players from performing such vicious acts. At the same time, it could simply mean officials are incredibly focused on making sure that penalty is called when needed.

It could also, obviously, mean nothing.

The size of the sample, here being the two seasons, isn’t big enough to make a huge deal out of (yet). This is something worth monitoring as the season progresses.