CI Week 10 Highlights

On Saturday, Georgia Tech Defensive Line Coach Marco Coleman
 (@Coach_MColeman) and Arkansas State Assoc. Head Coach/RB Marquase Lovings (@CoachLovings) each moved to within one game of bowl eligibility. The next day, New Orleans Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael pulled all the right strings as Derek Carr and Taysom Hill both threw touchdown passes to lead the Saints to a 24-17 win over the Bears and into first place in the NFC South. Keep reading for more highlights from Week 10.
Hogs earn first win in Gainesville, defeat Gators 39-36 in overtime
It is no secret that Arkansas has struggled offensively this season as the Razorbacks made a change at offensive coordinator heading into their open week. Arkansas’ defense, however, has been a different story, keeping the Hogs in games by posting three defensive touchdowns prior to Saturday’s contest. While Arkansas entered their tilt at Florida riding a six-game losing streak, five of those games were decided by one possession. Backed by their highest offensive output of the season, in addition to a nation-leading fourth defensive touchdown, the Hogs finally got over the hump against the Gators in overtime. In doing so, Arkansas also collected the program’s first-ever win in The Swamp. The Hogs jumped out to a quick start, scoring a touchdown on their first offensive possession and then doubling the advantage when DB Jaylon Braxton ripped the ball out of a Florida receiver’s hands, returning the fumble 33 yards for a score. The Gators would respond with two touchdowns of their own to tie the game, but Arkansas DT Eric Gregory got the Razorbacks back on track when he registered his first sack of the season to force a punt. On Arkansas’ ensuing possession, kicker Cam Little connected on a 37-yard field goal to put the visitors back in front. The teams would go back-and-forth for the remainder of regulation but Arkansas got the last laugh when QB K.J. Jefferson found WR Tyrone Broden for a four-yard touchdown in overtime. On the day, Gregory anchored a Hog pass rush that finished with three sacks. Congratulations to Arkansas DL Coach Deke Adams (@CoachDekeAdams) on the landmark win! Adams is in his second season in Fayetteville after directing a defensive line that helped Arkansas set a new program record with 42 sacks in 2022 as the Hogs ended the season with a win in the Liberty Bowl. One of the preeminent defensive line coaches in the nation, Adams has previously held the position at Florida International, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, North Carolina, East Carolina, South Carolina and Southern Miss. With the Gamecocks, he worked with two First Team All-Americans, Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles. In total, Adams has helped develop six NFL draft picks. He has participated in eight bowl games and was a member of the Southern Miss staff that won the 2011 C-USA Championship.
Utah State keeps bowl hopes alive, beats San Diego State 32-24 in 2OT
On a night when Utah State’s starting quarterback went down early with an injury, special teams and defense rose to the occasion with several big plays to lift the Aggies. A defensive coach by trade, Nick Paremski (@CoachP_UtahSt) is focused on coordinating special teams this season but is keenly aware of the skill sets brought to the table by a pair of Aggie safeties, Ike Larsen and Anthony Switzer. Paremski called upon both versus San Diego State and the pair delivered in abundance. As the second quarter was winding down with San Diego State holding a 7-3 lead, Larsen diagnosed a fake field goal, flying in from the sideline to blow up the Aztec kicker who had taken a pitch from the holder. In the third quarter, with the hosts still holding a 7-3 lead, it was the Aggies’ turn to dig into their bag of tricks. Facing a 4th-and-2 at their own 35-yard line, USU lined up to punt but Switzer took a direct snap and picked up four yards to give the Aggies a new set of downs. Five plays later, USU QB Cooper Legas delivered the biggest offensive play of the night when he connected with WR Jalen Royals for a 50-yard touchdown. In the fourth quarter, the Aztecs tried their hand at a fake punt but Larsen came through again, making the tackle for no gain. For good measure, Larsen also delivered the dagger when he intercepted an SDSU pass in overtime to seal the win. Congratulations to Paremski on the win and clutch special teams! Last season, Paremski’s special teams finished in the top 10 nationally in efficiency according to ESPN. In addition to coordinating special teams, Paremski also coached outside linebackers in 2021 when the Aggies won the Mountain West and the LA Bowl. Previously, he spent five seasons at Arkansas State, including one as interim defensive coordinator, and was part of the Red Wolves staff that won the Sun Belt and Cure Bowl in 2016. Paremski also coordinated the defense at West Texas A&M and began his collegiate coaching career in the Lone Star State as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M – Kingsville.
Tigers wrap up back-to-back undefeated seasons with victory over Allen
If there was any doubt that Benedict’s historic 2022 campaign was a fluke, there isn’t anymore. Following their 37-9 drubbing of crosstown rival Allen, Benedict Head Coach Chennis Berry (@coachberry77) and the Tigers have now gone 23-1 since October 2021 and will have an opportunity to defend their SIAC championship next week in Atlanta. And make no mistake, the job that Berry and his staff have done qualifies as a rebuild in every sense of the word. Just three years after Berry’s hire, which came on the heels of a 1-9 season, the Tigers achieved a top 25 national ranking for the first time in program history to go along with the school’s first conference title and playoff berth in 2022. This season the Tigers haven’t missed a beat despite replacing last year’s starting quarterback and several other starters. QB Aeneas Dennis has taken the reins to a Tiger offense that leads the SIAC and ranks 13th nationally with over 40 points per game. Dennis was in form again versus the Yellow Jackets, completing 22-of-34 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, reigning SIAC Defensive Player of the Year and All-American DE Loobert Denelus has anchored a Benedict unit that leads the nation, yielding a paltry 8.3 points per game. Denelus had another solid showing versus Allen, recording three tackles, including one tackle-for-loss, but it was his understudy, freshman DE Joshua Barker, who stole the show on Saturday. Barker posted the best game of his career to date, leading the Tigers with eight stops, including four tackles-for-loss and three sacks.  As a unit, the Benedict defense held the Yellow Jackets to their worst offensive output of the season, forcing three fumbles and another three interceptions. Congratulations to Berry on the win and another remarkable regular season! Prior to arriving at Benedict, Berry spent seven seasons as the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Southern. While in Baton Rouge, he helped the Jaguars win three division titles and one conference championship. Berry also has coordinating experience from stints at Howard, North Carolina A&T and Morgan State, and a wealth of NFL experience having completed internships with the Jaguars, Colts, Browns, Lions, Chargers and Bears.
Akron erases 17-point fourth quarter deficit to stun Kent State 31-27, claim Wagon Wheel
As legend has it, while philanthropist John R. Buchtel was surveying different plots of land as the site for a new college in 1870, he was in Kent, OH when his carriage became stuck in the mud. Startled, his horses pulled frantically, separating one of the wheels from the rest of the wagon. Buchtel, his horses and the three remaining wheels continued on their quest, ultimately settling on a site 10 miles to the west in Akron, OH. Several years later, the abandoned wagon wheel was discovered and in 1923 it was first reunited with the other three wheels as Akron won the inaugural Wagon Wheel Trophy with a 32-0 victory over Kent State. More recently, the wheel has resided in Kent since 2019, but on Wednesday night it made the journey back to Akron as the Zips mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback to stun the Golden Flashes, 31-27.  QB Jeff Undercuffler accounted for two touchdowns, one passing and one rushing, and RB Lorenzo Lingard rushed for a third as Akron outscored Kent State 21-0 in the fourth quarter to erase a 27-10 deficit and win, 31-27. For the game, Undercuffler threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his rushing touchdown while freshman kicker Owen Wiley made his only field goal attempt and all four extra points in just his third collegiate game. Defensively for Kent State, DL Stephen Daley led the way with eight tackles, including two tackles-for-loss and one sack. Congratulations to Akron Special Teams Coordinator Allen Tucker (@TeamsCoachTuck) and Offensive Analyst/QB Ryan Matviko (@RMatviko) on the win and credit to Kent State Defensive/Special Teams Assistant David Blake (@CoachBlake41) for Daley’s strong game. Tucker is in his second season at Akron after a four-year stint as the special teams quality control assistant at Mississippi State. He helped the Bulldogs improve in special teams efficiency each year he was in Starkville and worked with a Lou Groza Award Watch List kicker as well as a Ray Guy Award Watch List punter. Tucker previously coached on the defensive side of the ball at The Citadel and has also coached at Valdosta State. Matviko is also in his second year with the Zips after a three-year stint at Hawai’i where he served as an analyst on offense, defense and special teams. A true three-way coach, Matviko has coached linebackers at Robert Morris, receivers at Thiel College and running backs at MacMurray College. Blake also boasts experience in all three phases, having served as the associate head coach and co-offensive coordinator at Westminster College in 2022. In 2021, he coordinated the defense at Bluefield State, guiding the Big Blue to top 25 finishes nationally in First Down Defense, Passing Efficiency Defense, Passing Yards Allowed and Forced Fumbles. Blake arrived at Bluefield after spending the 2020 season as a defensive assistant and player personnel analyst at Auburn. He previously worked on the offensive side of the ball at Arkansas State and also spent three seasons at Memphis, where he helped the Tigers win two division championships.
Last-second field goal gives Sam Houston its first win as FBS program
The jump from FCS to FBS is challenging for any program, even one that claimed a national championship just a little over two years ago. Chris Buckner (@coachcbuckner) served as the running backs coach when Sam Houston State won the title and is back in Huntsville this year after a stint as the wide receivers coach at Texas State. This time around, Buckner is coordinating the Bearkat passing game in addition to coaching receivers. Thanks to a primetime showing from WR Noah Smith and a clutch reception from WR Jyzaiah Rockwell, SHSU picked up its first win as an FBS program on Saturday. Smith hauled in seven passes for 78 yards and his early touchdown helped the Bearkats keep pace after Kennesaw State had jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Later, Rockwell made a leaping catch in the end zone to draw the hosts level with 3:49 to play. After SHSU DB Da’Marcus Crosby II intercepted a pass to put the Bearkat offense back on the field, Smith came up big again, coming up with a catch on third down to move the chains and setup the game-winning field goal. On the next play, kicker Colby Sessums converted from 35 yards out to complete the comeback and set off the celebration. Congratulations to Buckner on the historic win and plays by Smith and Rockwell! Buckner helped SHSU follow-up their title run in the spring season by winning another conference title and reaching the quarterfinals a few months later in the fall of 2021. He spent the 2019 season coaching the running backs at Southern Miss and previously coached receivers during a stint at Arkansas State. From 2016-17, he served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Western New Mexico, where he worked with a top 25 quarterback in both seasons. Since beginning his coaching career in 2010, Buckner has mentored 16 all-conference selections, including three All-Americans and two who were named either conference offensive player or receiver of the year.
Downing passes for 352 yards, 3 touchdowns to lead Elon past Delaware
Special teams can set the tone for a game and there is no clearer example of that than in Elon’s win over #5 Delaware. In a matchup of two of the top teams in the CAA, the Phoenix came bursting out of the gate when their kicker, Jake Marion, forced a fumble on the opening kickoff that Cornell Hendrick, Jr. recovered at midfield. Five plays later, Elon cashed in on the turnover when Jack Berkowitz converted a 36-yard field goal. The teams would trade the lead twice more in the first quarter and twice again in the second quarter. In the leadup to the game, one area where the hosts figured to have an advantage was in punt returns as the Blue Hens averaged over 17 yards per return, ranking in the top 10 nationally. But as the game wore on, Elon Special Teams Coordinator/OLB Milo Austin’s (@CoachMAustin) punt return and punt coverage units won the battle for hidden yardage in decided fashion. While the Phoenix kept Delaware’s return game in check, limiting Jourdan Townsend to just one return for nine yards, Elon DB Bo Sanders racked up 84 yards on six punt returns. The Phoenix led for the duration of the second half, benefitting from a touchdown pass from QB Matthew Downing and two more field goals from Berkowitz. The Blue Hens threatened late, cutting Elon’s lead to six at 33-27 with 3:27 remaining in the game, but LB Marco Patierno slammed the door when he recovered a UD fumble in the red zone with 1:33 left. On Monday, Berkowitz was recognized as the Special Teams Player of the Week by the CAA after making all four of his field goal attempts. Congratulations to Austin on the statement win and superb special teams play! Austin is in his second season at Elon and last year played an instrumental role in helping guide the Phoenix to the playoffs as he mentored All-American selections at outside linebacker, kicker and punter. Austin previously coordinated nationally ranked special teams units at Texas Southern and Delaware State. In addition to linebackers, Austin has also worked with defensive backs, receivers, and running backs over stints at Morehead State, Hampton, Midwestern State and Glenville State.
Massachusetts bests Merrimack on Homecoming Weekend, 31-21
For the first time since 2018, UMass has won back-to-back games. While the Minutemen ultimately cruised to a convincing win over Merrimack, things got off to a shaky start when the Warriors were gifted a short field on their second possession that they turned into seven points. From that point forward, the UMass defense went into lockdown mode, forcing three straight three-and-out’s and keeping Merrimack off the scoreboard until midway through the fourth quarter. By that point, the game was well in hand for the hosts as RB Greg Desrosiers had rattled off three touchdowns, part of a 31-0 scoring run for the Minutemen. Desrosiers racked up 162 rushing yards and the three scores on just 10 carries to pace the UMass offense. Defensively, the Minutemen spread the wealth with 23 players recording at least one tackle. LB Gerrell Johnson led the bunch with seven stops and ranks third on the team with 43 total tackles on the season. On the day, the Minutemen held the Warriors to just 226 total yards and 4-for-13 on third down. With two games still to play, UMass has already registered three wins this season which matches the program’s total number of victories from 2019-22 combined. Congratulations to Defensive Analyst Tony Brinson (@CoachBrins) on the win! Brinson is in his first season in Amherst after two seasons as the associate head coach and linebackers coach at Wagner and one year as the defensive coordinator at Morehead State. Brinson also coached at Wagner from 2011-18, serving in a variety of roles, including defensive and special teams coordinator in addition to coaching the linebackers and defensive line. He found success in each capacity, mentoring two team MVPs, five defensive MVP’s, and nine All-NEC players. On a team level, Brinson helped guide the Seahawks to the 2012 and 2014 NEC championships. Before arriving at Wagner, he served as the tight ends coach at Columbia and has also coached at a pair of Rhode Island programs, URI and Bryant.
Tigers stomp Bison on Senior Day
Few defensive coordinators in Division II have done it better in recent years than Ouachita Baptist’s Roy Thompson, Jr. (@RoyThompsonFB). In his first season as defensive coordinator following a promotion from co-defensive coordinator, Thompson directed a Tiger unit that led the nation in Scoring Defense in 2018. OBU followed that performance up with a fourth-place national finish in Scoring Defense in 2019 as the Tigers claimed the Great American Conference championship for the third consecutive year. Thompson and OBU won another GAC title in 2022, following an undefeated regular season while again boasting one of the top ranked defenses in the conference. This year, the Tigers are once again poised for a postseason run as they currently sit at 9-1 following Saturday’s 55-14 win over Oklahoma Baptist. It was an all-around dominant effort for the Tigers as Thompson’s defense recorded three interceptions, special teams added another two takeaways, and RB Kendel Givens rushed for four touchdowns. LB Dawson Miller notched the first interception early in the second quarter when he picked off a pass in the red zone as the Bison were threatening to tie the game at 14-14. Instead, the OBU offense took advantage of Miller’s pick, marching 97 yards in 9 plays for a touchdown to go up 21-7. The Tigers pulled away from that point, extending their lead to 45-7 before the Bison finally broke through late against OBU’s reserves. For the game, Miller led the Tigers with nine tackles as the hosts limited OKB to just 84 rushing yards. Congratulations to Thompson on the win and another great season! Thompson previously served as the Tigers’ defensive line and linebackers coach from 2009-13, when he helped the defense achieve top 10 national rankings in Total Defense and Rushing Defense. He has also coordinated defenses at Mendocino College and served as the special teams coordinator at Belhaven in 2013.
Quick Hits 
  • In one of the weekend’s biggest upsets, Army rushed for 213 yards and kicker Quinn Maretzki converted all three of his field goal attempts as the Black Knights stunned previously unbeaten Air Force, 23-3. Congratulations to Special Teams Coordinator Sean Saturnio (@CoachSaturnio) and RB Coach Darren Paige (@RBCoachPaige)!
  • Congratulations to Albany State Head Coach Quinn Gray, Sr. (@CoachQGray) who guided the Golden Rams to a 6-2 conference record in his first season and berth in this weekend’s SIAC Championship Game versus Benedict!
  • Austin Peay WR Kam Thomas caught 10 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns as the Governors beat Eastern Kentucky in overtime, 33-30. Congratulations to APSU Co-Offensive Coordinator/WR Lanear Sampson (@CoachSampson3)!
  • Seton Hill picked up its fifth win of the season, shutting out Mercyhurst 14-0, to clinch the program’s first-ever winning record in PSAC West games. Congratulations to Griffins Head Coach Daniel Day (@CoachDay_) and Defensive Coordinator Kevin May (@CoachKevinMay)!

One more CI coach will be in action tonight when the Chargers travel to New Jersey to take on the Jets on Monday Night Football. Good luck Los Angeles WR Coach Chris Beatty (@BeattyCoach)!

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