CI Week 14 Highlights

The college bowl lineup was announced yesterday and the CI Family will be front and center of the action throughout the holidays. Headlined by Texas Senior Defensive Analyst/DB Joey Thomas (@Joey_thomas24_) and the playoff bound Longhorns, a total of 28 CI coaches will be participating in bowl season. At the FCS level, five CI coaches advanced to the quarterfinals with wins on Saturday. Furman’s defense forced two turnovers and yielded just 200 total yards to Chattanooga as the Paladins advanced to the final 8 for the first time since 2005. Congratulations to Furman DL Coach Kevin Lewis (@CoachKLewDL)! The Paladins will travel to Missoula for their quarterfinal matchup after Montana overwhelmed Delaware in blizzard conditions. CB Corbin Walker recorded an interception and Safety Jaxon Lee returned a fumble for a touchdown to lead the Grizzlies to a 49-19 win and their third trip to the quarterfinals in the last four fall seasons. Congratulations to CB Coach Kim McCloud (@CoachKimMcCloud)! The Paladins and Grizzlies will be joined in the next round by Albany Assoc. Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Jared Ambrose (@CoachJambrose) and OLB Coach Chris Calabrese (@Coach_Calabrese) as well as South Dakota Assoc. Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Travis Johansen (@CoachTJohansen). On the FCS jobs front, a pair of CI coaches accepted head coaching positions over the weekend. Congratulations to new Tennessee Tech Head Coach Bobby Wilder (@CoachWilder353) and new Northern Arizona Head Coach Brian Wright (@Coachbwright)! Congratulations also go out to Blue Adams (@DBcoachadams) who is on the move to Michigan State after a successful five-year stint at Oregon State. Also on an individual level, congratulations to Miami (OH) Pass Game Coordinator/WR Coach Myles White (@M_White03) and South Florida Assoc. Head Coach/RB Matt Merritt (@Coach_Merritt) on their selections to the AFCA 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute. Keep reading for this week’s highlights and a full schedule of bowl games involving CI coaches.
Liberty Win First C-USA Championship, Beat New Mexico State Again
After five seasons building Coastal Carolina into one of the most prolific offenses in the country, it took Co-Offensive Coordinator/RB Newland Isaac (@coachisaacFB) and the Liberty staff just one season to do the same in Lynchburg. The Flames entered Friday night’s C-USA Championship Game as the #1 Rushing Offense in the country, averaging 295.4 yards on the ground per game. By the end of the night, that number was even higher. New Mexico State was helpless in their efforts to stop Liberty QB Kaidon Salter and the Flame offense. Salter finished the night with 319 yards passing, two passing touchdowns, 165 yards rushing and one rushing score. At the running back position, Isaac’s two-headed monster of Billy Lucas and Quinton Cooley combined to churn out 157 rushing yards and four touchdowns. After throwing in another 72 rushing yards from WR Aaron Bedgood, Liberty ballcarriers combined to rush 45 times for 393 yards, a whopping 8.7 yards per carry. The Flames scored seven touchdowns against the Aggies and did not have to punt once. New Mexico State kept pace initially, tying the score at 35-35 late in the third quarter, but Liberty was ultimately too much as the hosts pulled away in the fourth quarter to win, 49-35. With the victory, the Flames claim the program’s first C-USA Championship and remain a perfect 13-0 on the season. Congratulations to Isaac on the historic win and magical season! In his five seasons with the Chanticleers, including four as co-offensive coordinator, Isaac helped the Chanticleers win the 2020 Sun Belt Championship, reach three bowl games, win two division titles and achieve several top 10 finishes in offensive categories. In 2021, he was named the AFCA FBS Assistant Coach of the Year and a Broyles Award nominee. Isaac began his coaching career working with the running backs and slot receivers at North Greenville, where he helped the Crusaders win a national title in 2010. He went on to coach at Delta State, Charleston Southern and Albany State before arriving at Coastal. In 2018, Isaac was selected to participate in the NCAA-NFL Coaches Academy.
Florida A&M wins SWAC Championship
A Wikipedia search will tell you that four cities claim the moniker “Titletown.” It might be time to add a fifth in Tallahassee, Florida. For the eighth time in history, both Florida State and Florida A&M are conference champions. While the Seminoles slugged their way to a 16-6 victory over Louisville in Charlotte, the real fireworks were taking place back in Tally at Bragg Memorial Stadium. The Rattlers jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead over SWAC West Champion Prairie View A&M and never looked back, cruising their way to a 35-14 win, their second in six weeks over the Panthers. In October, FAMU Head Coach Head Coach Willie Simmons (@HCWillieSimmons) dialed up an aerial attack led by QB Jeremy Moussa’s 272 yards and three touchdowns, but Saturday’s rainy conditions forced Simmons to alter his approach. The end result was the same. RB Terrell Jennings was named Offensive MVP of the game after rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns in a game that was delayed twice by lightning. As an offense, the Rattlers racked up 229 yards on the ground and four rushing scores. While Simmons’ offense showed its versatility, his defense showed its consistency. After limiting PVAMU to just seven points and 220 total yards in their October tilt, the FAMU defense was just as stifling in round 2, shutting out the Panthers over the final 23 minutes. In both contests, the Rattler secondary picked off three passes, led by Javan Wilson who recorded a pair of interceptions on Saturday. With the win, FAMU claims its second conference championship in Simmons’ tenure and will be heading to its first Celebration Bowl in program history after a perfect 8-0 mark in SWAC games. Congratulations to Simmons on the historic win as well as his recent selection as SWAC Coach of the Year! Now in his sixth year leading his hometown school, Simmons has won 38 games over the past four seasons. In addition to the two conference championships, he also guided the Rattlers to a playoff appearance in 2021, marking the first time the program had accomplished the feat in 20 years. Simmons spent the 2015-17 seasons as the head coach at Prairie View A&M and has coordinated offenses at Middle Tennessee State and Alcorn State, where he helped the Braves win the SWAC in 2014.
South Dakota rolls past Sacramento State for second-round win
Entering the second round of the FCS Playoffs, Pro Football Focus ranked the 16 remaining teams across a number of categories. When it came to tackling, not only did the experts judge South Dakota to be the best of the playoff bunch, they also ranked the Coyotes #1 in all of FCS. Under the direction of Assoc. Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Travis Johansen (@CoachTJohansen), the Coyotes will wrap you up and punch the ball loose. Against Sacramento State, those skills made all the difference as South Dakota punched its first ticket to the FCS Quarterfinals in program history. After a USD field goal put the hosts up 3-0 late in the first quarter, Johansen’s defense seized control of the game over a two-minute span. On the ensuing Hornet possession, Coyote DB Josiah Ganues snared his second interception of the season to set the USD offense up with prime field position. Four plays later, the Coyote offense capitalized when QB Aidan Bouman found WR Javion Phelps for an 18-yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead. Just moments later, a trio of USD defenders combined to produce the play of the game. DT Blake Holden and LB Stephen Hillis combined to stop Sacramento State QB Kaiden Bennett, jarring the ball loose in the process. USD DE Mi’Quise Grace grabbed the loose ball and raced 56 yards for a score to send the home crowd into a frenzy. The Hornets would pull within 10 at the end of the first half but could draw no closer as the Coyotes held on for a 34-24 win. Next up, USD will look to replicate its 24-19 September road win over North Dakota State in the friendly confines of the DakotaDome. Congratulations and good luck to Johansen! Now in his fifth season at USD, Johansen is helping USD build off of its strong 2021 campaign when the program hosted a playoff game for the first time in 35 years, thanks in large part to a defense that set new program records for points and yards allowed. Prior to arriving in Vermillion, Johansen spent six years as the defensive coordinator at Grand View University. At Grand View, he helped lead the Vikings to five conference championships, six playoff appearances and the 2013 national championship. Johansen's defenses finished in the top 12 nationally all six years and his approach to "position-less" defense was featured in a Sports Illustrated article titled “The Search to Save NFL Defenses.”
CI Coaches in Bowl Games
Celebration Bowl: Howard (Head Coach Larry Scott, Offensive Coordinator/WR Lindsey Lamar, DB Coach Kyshoen Jarrett, QB Coach Greg McGhee) vs. Florida A&M (Head Coach Willie Simmons) – Dec. 16, 12:00 PM
New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana (OL Coach Bryant Ross) vs. Jacksonville State – Dec. 16, 2:15 PM
Cure Bowl: Miami (OH) (Associate Head Coach/OL James Patton, Pass Game Coordinator/WR Coach Myles White) vs. Appalachian State – Dec. 16, 3:30 PM
Frisco Bowl: Marshall (Offensive Analyst Chuckie Keeton) vs. UTSA – Dec. 19, 9:00 PM
Boca Raton Bowl: Syracuse (Offensive Coordinator/QB Jason Beck) vs. South Florida (Assoc. Head Coach/RB Matt Merritt) – Dec. 21, 8:00 PM
Birmingham Bowl: Georgia Tech (DL Coach Marco Coleman) vs. Troy (Defensive Assistant David Mackie) – Dec. 23, 12:00 PM
Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State (Assoc. Head Coach/RB Marquase Lovings) vs. Northern Illinois – Dec. 23, 12:00 PM
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Utah State (Special Teams Coordinator Nick Paremski) vs. Georgia State – Dec. 23, 3:30 PM
68 Ventures Bowl: Eastern Michigan (CB Coach Munir Prince) vs. South Alabama – Dec. 23, 7:00 PM
Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Kansas (WR Coach Terrence Samuel) vs. UNLV – Dec. 16, 9:00 PM
Military Bowl: Tulane (DB Coach Josh Christian-Young, Special Teams Analyst Mike Krysl ) vs. Virginia Tech (RB Coach Elijah Brooks) – Dec. 27, 2:00 PM
Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (Defensive Analyst Elijah Sandweiss) vs. Oklahoma State – Dec. 27, 9:00 PM
Pop-Tarts Bowl: Kansas State (Special Teams Quality Control Chili Davis) vs. NC State – Dec. 28, 5:45 PM
Music City Bowl: Maryland (Defensive Analyst Rob Ambrose) vs. Auburn – Dec. 30, 2:00 PM
Arizona Bowl: Toledo (CB Coach Corey Parker) vs. Wyoming – Dec. 30, 4:30 PM
ReliaQuest Bowl: Wisconsin (Senior Defensive Analyst Jack Cooper) vs. LSU – Jan. 1, 12:00 PM
Citrus Bowl: Iowa (Recruiting Specialist Christopher Browne) vs. Tennessee – Jan. 1, 12:00 PM
Fiesta Bowl: Liberty (Co-Offensive Coordinator/RB Newland Isaac) vs. Oregon – Jan. 1, 12:00 PM
Sugar Bowl (CFP): Texas (Senior Defensive Analyst/DB Joey Thomas) vs. Washington – Jan. 1, 8:45 PM

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