CI Week 2 Highlights


The NFL kicked off its regular season on Thursday night and it was a strong opening weekend for the CI Family as Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael, Rams OLB Coach Joe Coniglio (@CoachConiglio51), Rams Asst. OL Coach Nick Jones (@CoachNickJones), Cowboys Asst. TE Coach Chase Haslett (@Coach_Haslett), Dolphins Offensive Assistant Kolby Smith (@coachkolbysmith) and Packers Offensive Assistant Rob Grosso (@the_real_robbyg) all jumped out to 1-0 starts. At the college level, the theme of the week was upsets as a number of underdogs emerged victorious on Saturday. While all eyes were on the NFL yesterday, we begin this week’s highlights by checking in on action north of the border…
Bombers embarrass rival Roughriders in annual Banjo Bowl
If it’s possible for a team to play a perfect game, that’s exactly what the Winnipeg Blue Bombers did on Saturday night against Saskatchewan. Winnipeg reporter Ed Tait summed up the Bombers’ 51-6 thrashing of their longtime rivals as only a Canuck can: “It was essentially akin to having a tiger pull down a wounded antelope in a couple of strides and then watch it meticulously pick the carcass clean for three hours.” Hardly resembling the same team that dropped a 32-30 decision to Saskatchewan six days earlier, the Bombers led 14-3 after one quarter and never looked back. QB Zach Collaros led the charge for the Winnipeg offense, completing 18-of-21 passes for 319 yards and five touchdowns. In the kicking game, Sergio Castillo was perfect on all three field goal attempts and six converts while Jamal Parker stayed busy in the return game, racking up 56 yards on five punt returns. With the win, the Bombers extend their lead in the CFL West. Having already clinched a playoff spot, the Bombers are pursuing their third Grey Cup in the past four years. Congratulations to Winnipeg Special Teams Coordinator Paul Boudreau (@bouqb2) on the dominant win! Now in his seventh season in Winnipeg, Boudreau's units have been instrumental in the club's first two Grey Cups. The Bombers finished the 2019 season ranked first in blocked kicks, second in kick return touchdowns, and third in both punt and kickoff return. They excelled on special teams again in 2021, finishing second in the league in opponents’ post-kickoff field position despite cycling through four kickers over the season. Boudreau joined the Bombers following a four-year stint as the assistant special teams coach for the St. Louis Rams. He also has experience coaching quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs during 16 seasons at the college level.

Griffis throws for 2 TDs as Wake Forest beats Vanderbilt 36-20 in game delayed two hours
When Donavon Green went down with a serious injury on the first day of fall practice, questions surrounded the Wake Forest receiving corps. The Demon Deacs were already without the services of A.T. Perry who went on to the NFL after carrying the banner for Wake receivers in 2022 and Green figured to take his place as lead receiver. The task of picking up the slack suddenly fell at the feet of receivers such as Jahmal Banks, Ke’Shawn Williams and Wesley Grimes. While some might have viewed the group as short-handed, for WR Coach Ari Confesor (@CoachAC3) it was an embarrassment of riches after spending the past four years coaching the position at run-heavy Air Force. Through two weeks, the Deacs are 2-0 and Confesor’s unheralded pupils have already made major contributions. In last week’s win over Elon, it was Banks who carried the load, finishing the day with six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Against the Commodores, Williams stepped to the plate, hauling in five passes for 92 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Grimes has been a steady presence in both contests, catching a combined total of six passes for 116 yards and a score. Williams’ touchdown on Saturday came early in the fourth quarter and stretched Wake’s lead to three scores, 33-14, and effectively shut the door on any Vandy comeback bid. Congratulations to Confesor on the win and receiver production! In his four years at Air Force, Confesor was part of staffs that went a combined 34-11, won a division title and three bowl games. On an individual level, he worked with Brandon Lewis who went on to sign with the Tennessee Titans. Confesor spent the 2018 season as the pass game coordinator and wide receivers coach at Holy Cross and previously spent eight seasons at Rhode Island, where he worked in a variety of capacities including coaching wide receivers, defensive backs, linebackers and co-coordinating special teams. From 2012-13, he served as a scouting assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kiner runs for 153 yards as Cincinnati holds off Pitt 27-21 in renewal of River City Rivalry
In April 2022, Corey Kiner transferred from LSU to Cincinnati after playing one season for the Tigers. It was a homecoming for the former Mr. Football in Ohio and Cincinnati native who was one of the top running back recruits in the class of 2021. The move was far from a fairy tale, however, as a rocky transition saw Kiner record just 362 yards on 81 carries in 2022. Now in his second season, Kiner is coming into his own and bolstering a strong position group for Cincinnati RB Coach De'Rail Sims (@DeRailSims). Through two games, Kiner is pacing the Bearcat offense with 258 rushing yards and one touchdown on 33 carries (7.8 ypc). While a week 1 win against FCS opposition may be overlooked, no disclaimers can be raised after a 153-yard performance against a Pitt rush defense that finished #7 nationally in 2022. Kiner’s score was part of a 17-0 run for the Bearcats over the second and third quarters that stretched UC’s lead to 27-7. Pitt would make a run in the fourth quarter but Cincinnati held on for a 27-21 road win. Congratulations to Sims on the win and Kiner’s breakout performance! Sims arrived in the Queen City after a two-year stint at Louisville where he helped the Cardinals reach bowls in both seasons. He previously spent two seasons as the running backs coach at East Carolina and three seasons coaching the position at James Madison. With the Dukes, he reached the FCS national championship game on two occasions, including winning the title in 2016. During their title run, the Dukes were fueled by a rushing attack that broke the CAA single-season rushing record with 4,125 yards. Sims has completed the NCAA-NFL Coaches Academy as well as the AFCA's 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute.

At long last, Texas beats Bama and slays some ghosts 
Heading into Texas’ marquee matchup versus Alabama, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Johnson identified the keys for the Longhorns to pull off the upset in Tuscaloosa. Chief among them, the Texas defensive line had to control the line of scrimmage and force the Crimson Tide into becoming a pass-first offense. The thinking behind this analysis was that if Alabama was forced to take to the air, the Texas secondary matched up well against the Tide QB Jalen Milroe and his cast of receivers. Sure enough, the Horns were stout in run defense, limiting star RB Jase McClellan to just 45 yards and Milroe to 44 rushing yards. Forced to attempt a career-high 27 passes, Milroe played right into the Texas defense’s strength. First, CB Jahdae Barron picked off a Milroe pass, setting up a Longhorn field goal. Later, with Texas holding a 20-16 lead, safety Jerrin Thompson recorded the second pick of the night and raced back to the Alabama 5-yard line. On the next play, Texas RB Jonathan Brooks ran it in to the end zone to extend the lead to 11. The Tide would pull back within three but no closer as the Horns held on for the program’s first road win over a top 5 team since 2010 and its first over a top 3 team since 2008. Congratulations to Texas Senior Defensive Analyst/DB Joey Thomas (@Joey_thomas24_) on the big win! Thomas is in his second season in Austin after spending the previous two seasons at Florida Atlantic, first as an analyst prior to his promotion to wide receivers coach in 2021. He previously served as the defensive backs coach, defensive passing game coordinator and special teams coordinator at Fort Scott and was a three-time league coach of the year as a head coach at the high school level in Seattle. After playing at Montana State, Thomas enjoyed a five-year playing career with the Packers, Saints, Cowboys and Dolphins.
FIU outlasts North Texas in thriller, 46-39
In one of the weekend’s biggest upsets on paper, FIU came out on top in a back-and-forth affair to improve to 2-1 on the season. If Deion Sanders were the Panthers coach, he’d probably call out the Miami Herald for predicting a 44-17 loss for FIU in this game just a few weeks ago. Vegas didn’t give the Panthers much of a chance either, but that mattered little to FIU DB Hezekiah Masses and RB Kejon Owens who came up big on Saturday night. Masses put the Panthers up 14-10 in the second quarter after he returned an interception 40 yards for a score while Owens did his work late, scoring three rushing touchdowns in the second half. Owen’s third score came with 7:09 to play and the Panthers trailing by one. In a game that featured seven lead changes and two ties, the Mean Green threatened to retake the lead once again, reaching the FIU 9-yardline with under five minutes to play, but the FIU defense stood tall, forcing a turnover on downs. A strong series of runs by Owens and RB Shomari Lawrence extinguished any hope of UNT being able to mount another drive. For the game, the FIU defense forced three turnovers and two more turnovers on downs. Owens and Lawrence combined to rush for 190 yards and four scores. Congratulations to FIU Defensive Coordinator/LB Jovan Dewitt (@Coach_Dewitt) and to Assoc. Head Coach/RB Eric Hickson (@CoachEHickson2) on the win and strong start! Dewitt arrived in Miami last year after two seasons as the special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach at UNC. He helped guide the Tar Heels to the 2020 Orange Bowl and the 2021 Duke's Mayo Bowl. Dewitt previously spent two seasons in the same role at Nebraska, where he was nominated for the Orange Bowl Courage Award in 2019. As the associate head coach at UCF, he helped guide the Golden Knights to a perfect 13-0 record in 2017, including a win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Hickson's move to FIU was a short one, arriving across town from Coral Gables after spending three seasons as Miami's running backs coach from 2019-21, all of which resulted in a bowl berth. A Fort Lauderdale native, Hickson coached at the high school level in South Florida from 2003-11. He spent the 2018 season coaching running backs at his alma mater, Kansas State, where he helped RB Alex Barnes earn First Team All-Big 12 honors and lead the conference in rushing.
Bethune-Cookman beats Savannah State in home opener
When it comes to off-field turmoil, few programs have endured what Bethune-Cookman went through at the beginning of the year. Partially as a result of internal challenges that any non-Power 5 program can relate to and partially due to external factors such as devastation wrought by multiple hurricanes, the Wildcat program had some blemishes and that dirty laundry was aired on a national scale for all of the sports world to see last January. What the program needed was to heal. What the program needed was Rayond Woodie, Jr. (@CoachWoodie). A proud alum and All-American player for B-CU, Woodie has provided that healing and then some since being hired by his alma mater as head coach in February. On Saturday, the fruits of Woodie’s work were readily apparent in a successful home opener, a 31-6 win over Savannah State. In front of nearly 7,000 fans, Wildcat QB Luke Sprague threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offense. WR Decarri Allen-Johnson was the beneficiary on both of Sprague’s scoring tosses as the Wildcat offense outgained the Tigers by a 387-273 margin. On defense, LB Dearis Thomas posted a game-high nine tackles, including two tackles-for-loss and one sack for B-CU. Congratulations to Woodie on his first of many wins to come as a head coach! Woodie returned to Daytona Beach after three seasons at FAU as the Owls’ associate head coach and outside linebackers coach. In 2020, he helped FAU lead the C-USA in sacks and finish second in points allowed per game (17.4). He previously worked with linebackers, defensive ends and special teams over stints at Florida State, Oregon, South Florida and Western Kentucky. Woodie boasts elite recruiting credentials, having been recognized as the top recruiter in the PAC-12, AAC and Sun Belt while ranking second in the ACC by 247Sports in 2018.
SIU takes down another FBS opponent, topping Northern Illinois, 14-11
Every season, at least a handful of FCS teams are able to score upset wins over FBS opponents, but entering Southern Illinois’ game against their in-state FBS rival, the Championship Subdivision was 0-45 in such contests in 2023. Going back one month, few could have expected the Salukis to be the FCS program to break the ice this season when their defensive coordinator left the program on the eve of training camp to take an FBS job. Unfazed, SIU responded by shuffling defensive responsibilities on staff, including Special Teams Coordinator Gary McGraw (@DBCoachMcGraw) who has taken on a greater role coaching the secondary. The move paid dividends against the Huskies as the Salukis intercepted three passes on the day. Offensively, SIU RB Coach Larry Warner (@coachWarnerRB) saw his top back, Ro Elliott, put the visitors up 14-0 with 11:45 remaining in the third quarter. For the game, Elliott averaged 6.4 yards per carry on nine carries. The Saluki offense did not score again after Elliott struck pay dirt but the advantage was just enough to deliver the upset. NIU would draw within three and looked poised to either tie or take the lead in the final minute, but SIU safety Ubayd Steed thwarted those plans when he recorded the third pick of the day, catching a tipped pass at the SIU 9-yard line to seal the win. Today, another member of the Saluki secondary, safety P.J. Jules, was recognized as the MVFC Defensive Player of the Week as SIU moved up to #15 in the nation. Congratulations to McGraw and Warner on the big win! McGraw served as the CB Coach at Tulsa in 2022 after spending the previous six seasons at Sam Houston State, where he helped the Bearkats win the 2021 FCS spring national championship and make a semifinal appearance in 2017. He previously spent five years as the defensive backs coach at Midwestern State, where he won three conference championships and developed six All-American selections. Warner is back in Carbondale after coaching running backs and special teams at Texas Southern in 2022. A First-Team All-American as a player for the Salukis, Warner served two seasons as the running backs coach at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, where he helped the Golden Lions claim the SWAC West title in the 2021 spring season. He previously spent three seasons in a similar role at South Alabama, where he mentored All-American RB Tra Minter.

Quick Hits

  • South Dakota DT Nick Gaes was named FCS National Defensive Player of the Week after recording seven tackles, including five tackles-for-loss, three sacks and a forced fumble in the Coyotes' 24-0 win over St. Thomas. Congratulations to USD Assoc. Head Coach/DefCoor Travis Johansen (@CoachTJohansen)!
  • After a 34-0 win over Edward Waters, Benedict has now outscored its first two opponents by a combined score of 86-0. Congratulations to Tigers Head Coach Chennis Berry (@coachberry77)!
  • Seton Hill DB Demetri Whitehead was named PSAC West Special Teams Player of the Week after registering a punt block, fumble recovery on a punt and two special teams tackles in the Griffins' 28-23 win over Shippensburg. Congratulations to Seton Hill Head Coach Daniel Day (@CoachDay_) and Defensive Coordinator Kevin May (@CoachKevinMay)!
  • Abilene Christian QB Maverick McIvor threw four touchdown passes and the Wildcats recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for another score in a 45-16 win over Prairie View A&M. Congratulations to ACU Special Teams Coor./QB Matt Clark (@Coach_MattClark)!

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