CI Week 1 Highlights

After an abbreviated slate of college games in Week 0 that featured wins for Florida Atlantic Assoc. Head Coach/OLB Raymond Woodie (@CoachWoodie), Alabama State Assoc. Head Coach/OL Alex Jackson (@Coach_Ajax) and Texas Wesleyan Senior Defensive Analyst Tony McClain (@DLineDude5), the college football season got underway in earnest with a full slate of games over the past four days. With big upsets, comeback rallies and overtime thrillers, it could not have started much better for the Coaches Inc. Family. Please enjoy this week's highlights below.
When it comes to leading FCS teams to upset wins over FBS opponents, nobody does it better than Mike London (@CoachMike London). The William & Mary head coach made history on Friday night, becoming the first coach to guide three different FCS programs to FBS wins when the Tribe routed Charlotte, 41-24. Unlike Richmond's win at Duke in 2009 or Howard's stunner over UNLV in 2017, which were both decided by one possession, the Tribe sent most of the home fans toward the exits with half of the fourth quarter still to play. On the strength of an offense that racked up 560 total yards and a defense that allowed only seven points in the second half, William & Mary closed the game on a 21-0 run to snuff out any hopes of a 49er comeback. Individually, QB Darius Wilson passed for 237 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 67 yards and caught a 19-yard pass while CAA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Nate Lynn anchored the defensive front, posting 6 tackles, 2.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. Linebackers Trey Watkins and John Pius each tallied nine tackles to tie for the team lead in the category. Congratulations to London, Assoc. Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/LB Vincent Brown (@CoachVBrown59), and OLB Coach Darryl Blackstock (@CoachBlackstock) on the win! Now in his fourth season in Williamsburg, London spent six seasons as the head coach at Virginia in addition to his stints at the helm for Richmond and Howard. With the Cavaliers, he was named the ACC Coach of the Year in 2011 after guiding the team to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Brown was on London's staffs at Richmond, Virginia and Howard, and he also served as the co-defensive coordinator at UConn from 2014-16. Blackstock, who played at Virginia when London was an assistant, enjoyed a seven-year playing career in the NFL before beginning his coaching career as a defensive assistant at William & Mary in 2019. He was promoted to a full-time position in 2020 and completed the Bill Walsh Coaching Fellowship with the Rams this summer.
One of the assistant coaches who helped London build William & Mary into its current position over the last three years is Gordie Sammis (@CoachSammis). Now the offensive line coach at UConn, Sammis helped direct a Husky rushing attack that churned out 274 yards and two scores on Saturday versus in-state foe Central Connecticut. RB Nathan Carter was the primary beneficiary of the offensive line's proficiency as he accounted for 123 rushing yards and one touchdown on 23 carries (5.3 ypc) in the winning effort. Not to be outdone, Defensive Assistant Mike Ryan (@CoachMRyan) saw his unit limit the Blue Devils to 242 total yards and 3-of-13 on third and fourth downs. In the final minute, LB Brandon Bouyer-Randle recorded his first career interception and returned it for 39 yards to apply the finishing touch. Congratulations to Sammis and Ryan on the win! Before coordinating William & Mary's run game and coaching the offensive line from 2019-21, Sammis coached the position at VMI, Columbia and Lafayette. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Virginia in 2010. Ryan arrived in Storrs for his second stint with the Huskies this year after eight seasons at Maine, including three as the Black Bears' defensive coordinator. In 2018, he helped guide the program to its second CAA championship and first-ever appearance in the FCS semifinals. During his tenure at Maine, Ryan worked with the team's defensive line, inside linebackers and outside linebackers in addition to serving as recruiting coordinator.
Special teams can set the tone for a team and Mike Krysl's (@CoachKrysl) kickoff return unit did just that for Samford on Thursday night. WR Judd Crockett returned the opening kickoff for 43 yards out close to midfield and the underdog Bulldogs were in business. The hosts took a 14-7 lead into halftime and outscored the Owls 13-0 in the fourth quarter to seal the program's first win over a top 10 team since 2018. Offensively, receivers Chandler Smith and Kendall Watson shined brightest for Samford, each catching two touchdown passes with Smith also recording a 20-yard punt return. Elsewhere on special teams, Samford kicker Daniel Bethel also had a standout game, booting four of his five kickoffs into the endzone for touchbacks. Congratulations to Krysl on the statement win to open the season! Krysl arrived at Samford for this second stint this year after two seasons as the assistant special teams coach at Arkansas, where he helped the Razorbacks win the 2021 Outback Bowl. Previously, he spent two years at Army where he was part of a Black Knight team that went 11-2, won the Armed Forces Bowl and the Commander-in-Chief Trophy in 2018. Krysl has also coordinated special teams at Georgia Southern.
In his first season as Bluefield State's head coach, Tony Coaxum (@CoachCoax17) and his team laid the foundation for the program, going 4-3 in the school's first season in 41 years. Now in year two, the walls are going up. With Thursday night's comeback 35-34 overtime win over Johnson C. Smith, the Big Blue have a nice brick wall for the front of the house. Despite falling behind 20-7 in the second quarter and 27-17 midway through the third, Coaxum knew his team would find a way to come out on top in the end. WR Zaye'Quan Smith validated his head coach's confidence when he hauled in a 52-yard touchdown reception with 1:06 remaining to knot the score at 27-27 and send the game into overtime. After the Golden Bulls scored a touchdown on their possession, RB Jahdir Loftland brought Bluefield back within one when he reached pay dirt from five yards out. Sensing the moment, Coaxum called for a two-point conversion and the Big Blue converted when QB Devan Freedland connected with WR Perry Wilder III in the corner of the end zone for the win. For the game, Wilder III led all receivers with 12 receptions for 95 yards. Congratulations to Coaxum on the win! Prior to taking over at Bluefield State, Coaxum spent the 2019 season as the assistant special teams coach at Kansas. In 2018, he served as the special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Central Michigan and previously spent two seasons as the assistant special teams coach for the Broncos where he helped the team win Super Bowl 50. A West Point graduate, Coaxum served as an assistant coach for the Black Knights for seven years.
There is no sweeter win for a coach than his first as head coach. Fort Valley State Head Coach Shawn Gibbs (@CoachShawnGibbs) was able to enjoy his in his first attempt as the Wildcats cruised to a 21-6 win over Tuskegee in Montgomery, Alabama. Before taking over at Fort Valley, Gibbs had earned a reputation as one of the preeminent running back coaches at the FCS level. In 11 years coaching the position at North Carolina A&T, there was only one season in which one of Gibbs' backs did not reach the 1,000 yard mark and in seven of the program's final eight seasons in the MEAC, an Aggie led the league in rushing. He coached the all-time leading rusher in NCA&T history and did the same during a four-year stint at North Carolina Central. Additionally, during four years at Grambling, Gibbs helped the Tigers post the 12th ranked rushing attack in the nation in 2009. While his responsibilities have expanded significantly since arriving at Fort Valley, his magic touch with running backs has not diminished. On Sunday night, Wildcat RB Emmanuel Wilson earned MVP honors after single-handedly outgaining the entire Tuskegee offense himself, rushing for a career-high 262 yards and two touchdowns. His 87-yard touchdown run with just under 12 minutes to play proved to be the final score and effectively put the game out of reach for the Golden Tigers. Congratulations to Gibbs on the terrific start to his head coaching career! Not surprisingly, before beginning his coaching career, Gibbs was a star running back in his own right and remains one of all-time leading rushers in North Carolina Central history.
While Gibbs was helping North Carolina A&T rack up MEAC Championships with his contributions on the offensive side, another North Carolina Central alum, Courtney Coard (@CoachCoard), was doing the same for the Aggies on the defensive end. Coard spent seven total years in Greensboro over two stints, including four as co-defensive coordinator after being promoted to the role in 2018. Following his promotion, the NCA&T defense finished in the top 10 nationally in total defense in 2018 and 2019. The team's rush defense was even more impressive during that time, finishing in the top 5 nationally on both occasions. But shortly following Gibbs' departure from Greensboro in February, Coard also left to take the reins of his alma mater's defense as the Eagles' defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. Six months later, Coard was on the opposite sideline from the Aggies and still dialing up his trademark defensive pressure. The Eagle defense held the Aggies to just one touchdown and pitched a shutout in the second half. DB Kole Jones led the way for the Eagle defense, registering five tackles including two TFLs. Safety Khalil Baker also logged five tackles to go along with one interception and a pass breakup. Jones and Baker's production was more than enough for NCCU QB Davius Richard, who accounted for all four Eagle touchdowns in the 28-13 victory. Congratulations to Coard on the win! Prior to his first stint at North Carolina A&T in 2014, Coard coached the defensive line at Grambling. He also spent one season as a defensive graduate assistant at Georgia in 2015.
After going winless in 2021, Houston Baptist DL Coach Issac Mooring (@CoachMooring) knew that he needed to upgrade the talent level along his defensive line. Based on Saturday's returns, it looks as though he was successful. After the Huskies jumped out to a 32-14 lead through three quarters, Northern Colorado began the fourth quarter on a 20-7 run to cut the HBU lead down to five. While doubt might have started to creep into the minds of a veteran group saddled with a losing streak, Husky freshman DE Jacoby Brass knew nothing of a losing streak as he spent the 2021 season leading North Shore H.S. in Houston to a Texas 6A Division 1 Championship. Perhaps that winning pedigree came into play when Brass forced a fumble with just over a minute to play and the Bears driving into Husky territory. Fellow DL Jalyx Hunt, another newcomer who spent the 2021 campaign at Cornell, scooped up the loose ball and raced 52 yards for a touchdown to send the Huskies back to Houston with a win. While Brass and Hunt's big play provided the highlight, Mooring's pass rushers were relentless throughout the game, racking up six sacks and three more quarterback hits. Congratulations to Mooring on the win! Mooring arrived at HBU in 2020 after spending the 2019 season coaching running backs at Grand Valley State. He previously coached defensive line at Texas State, Gardner-Webb and North Greenville. At Texas State, two of his defensive linemen earned All-Sun Belt Conference recognition.
Quick Hits
  • Marc Liegghio connected on a 55-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to give Winnipeg a 20-18 win and clinch a playoff spot in the CFL West Division. Congratulations to Blue Bombers Special Teams Coordinator Paul Boudreau (@bouqb2)!
  • After going 0-9 in Big Ten games in 2021, Indiana won its opener over Illinois on Friday night, 23-20. Congratulations to DL Coach Paul Randolph (@CoachPRandolph) who was making his debut with the Hoosiers!
  • Austin Peay gained over 600 yards and converted 36 first downs in a 63-0 shellacking of Presbyterian. Congratulations to Governors Co-Offensive Coordinator/OL Ryan Stanchek (@CoachStanchek)!

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