CI Week 3 Highlights


With three full weeks of the college season in the books, most teams are winding down the non-conference portion of their schedule and beginning to look towards conference opponents. But before that happens, several CI coaches took advantage of opportunities to bag key non-conference wins that could pay dividends down the road when the postseason picture comes into focus. Keep reading for this week’s highlights.
Prescott has 2 TD’s as Cowboys beat Jets 30-10
After three seasons in Dallas as an offensive quality control assistant, Chase Haslett (@Coach_Haslett) was promoted to assistant tight ends coach following the 2022 season. The promotion came at a time when significant questions loomed over the position group as Dalton Schultz left via free agency after manning the top tight end spot for over four years. Those questions began to be answered last week when Dallas put up 40 points in a week 1 win. Haslett’s trio of tight ends, Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot and Luke Schoonmaker, excelled in run blocking in the win, as seen in this 25-yard run by RB Tony Pollard, but weren’t called upon to play a big role in the pass game. That changed on Sunday as one of the Cowboys’ top targets at receiver, Brandin Cooks, was out with a knee injury. Haslett’s group answered the bell with both Ferguson and Schoonmaker catching touchdowns, for Schoonmaker the first of his career. As a whole, the Dallas offense was highly efficient in scoring on seven of their first nine drives and racking up 382 total yards. Congratulations to Haslett on the win and production from Ferguson and Schoonmaker! In 2021, Haslett contributed to an offense that led the NFL in both scoring (31.2) and yards per game (407). After playing collegiately at IUP, Haslett began his coaching career at the collegiate level as a graduate assistant working with quarterbacks at Nebraska. He went on to work with the running backs at Mississippi State and served as the tight ends coach at Mercer in 2019.
Army upsets UTSA 37-29 in San Antonio
The 2022 Army-Navy game represented the highest of highs and lowest of lows for the Black Knights. The game recap will tell you that a stellar special teams performance by Sean Saturnio's (@CoachSaturnio) units, including a punt block recovered in the end zone and a game winning field goal from Quinn Maretzski, delivered the Knights the first overtime victory in the history of the series. A closer look, however, will show an anemic showing on offense. Army’s 153 yards of offense were the second lowest for a winning team in 2022 and represented the culmination of a downward trend. One week after the win, wholesale changes to the Army offense were underway. Out was the old school, flexbone triple option. In was a modern, shotgun-based offense that still had option principles but out of a spread set. Also in was new RB Coach Darren Paige (@RBCoachPaige). Paige had coached running backs at Cincinnati the past two seasons, where he mentored First Team All-AAC and 5th Round NFL Draft pick Jerome Ford, but his background was as a receiver coach. His skill set was a perfect complement for Army’s offensive transition and paid dividends on Friday night as Army RB Markel Johnson caught two passes for 41 yards. To be sure, Army’s backs were major contributors in the run game, led by RB Hayden Reed, who rushed for 107 yards and one touchdown in the 37-29 win over UTSA. For good measure, the group also got involved in the passing game when Johnson took a backwards pass and launched a 55-yard strike to WR Isaiah Alston. Unsurprisingly, Saturnio’s special teams were stout as always. Maretzki set a new career-high, converting all three of his field goals with a long of 45. Congrats to Saturnio and Paige on the big win! Saturnio is in his tenth season in West Point and sixth as special teams coordinator. He has also worked with the team’s tight ends and fullbacks over a stretch that has seen the Black Knights win four Commander-in-Chief's trophies, reach five bowl games and post two 10+ win seasons. He previously coached tight ends at Georgia Southern and also has head coaching experience at the high school level in Hawai'i. Prior to arriving at Cincinnati in 2021, Paige served as the wide receivers coach at Eastern Michigan, where he coached two all-conference selections and helped the Eagles reach the Quick Lane Bowl in 2019. In all, Paige has worked with 13 all-conference selections and two All-Americans. In 2017, he completed a Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship with the Titans and in 2020 he took part in the AFCA 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute.
McDonald, Toledo defense get redemption against San Jose State
Toledo CB Coach Corey Parker (@CoachCParker) is only in his second season as a college coach but he’s wasted no time in developing elite level talent. In 2022, he mentored sophomore CB Quinyon Mitchell to a First-Team All-MAC selection and multiple All-American honors. Mitchell and Chris McDonald served as the bookends to a Rocket pass defense that was downright stifling. Toledo held nine opponents to under 200 yards passing, including six to less than 100 yards as the Rockets rolled to a MAC Championship and Boca Raton Bowl win. Mitchell and McDonald are back at it again this season and picked up right where they left off in Boca. Mitchell entered 2023 with the accolades but on Saturday night it was McDonald who stole the show. With the Rockets trailing 17-14 near the end of the third quarter, the senior cornerback intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards to put the hosts on top for the first time in the contest. From there, the Toledo defense locked down the Spartans for the final 15 minutes, limiting the guests to just 43 yards and zero points. For the game, Mitchell and McDonald combined for six of the team’s eight pass breakups. Congratulations to Parker on the win and the performances of his corners! Prior to arriving at Toledo in 2022, Parker served as the served as the head coach at River Rouge High School (MI) for 13 seasons, where he compiled a 113-34 record. He was a three-time regional coach of the year and earned state coach of the year honors in 2015 and 2019, the latter honor coinciding with a state title.
Arkansas State runs past Stony Brook, 31-7
When it comes to positional flexibility, few have done it better than Marquase Lovings (@CoachLovings). As a defensive line coach, Lovings has mentored run stuffing units that have ranked among the best in their respective conferences while at Louisiana, Nicholls State and Austin Peay. He also worked with 1st Round Draft Pick DT Fletcher Cox as a defensive assistant at Mississippi State. On the other side of the ball, he’s directed elite running backs who have excelled at exposing holes in defensive lines. On Saturday night, he was doing the latter, guiding Arkansas State’s running backs to one of the most dominant rushing performances in program history. Led by Ja’Quez Cross, who rushed for a career-high 164 yards and two touchdowns, the Red Wolves churned out 345 yards on the ground in a 31-7 dismantling of Stony Brook. Complementing Cross, RB Zack Wallace added 57 yards and a score on the ground while RB Cedric Hawkins chipped in with 52 rushing yards. The 345 rushing yards marked the most for Arkansas State since 2014 and was one of the Red Wolves’ top 10 totals of all-time. Congratulations to Lovings on the win and dominant rushing attack! Now in his second season as Arkansas State’s associate head coach and running backs coach, Lovings gained head coaching experience as the interim head coach at Austin Peay in 2020, guiding the Governors to wins in four of their final five games. Overall, Lovings has been part of seven bowl games and two FCS playoff appearances. In 2018, he took part in the AFCA 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute.
Louisiana manhandles UAB for non-conference road victory
The Red Wolves weren’t the only Sun Belt team running roughshod over an opponent in Week 3. In Birmingham, neither weather nor injuries could slow down the Ragin’ Cajuns as they rushed for 305 yards in a 41-21 win over the Blazers. UL started the game missing starters at running back, right tackle and receiver and the injury situation went from bad to worse on their first offensive drive of the game when QB Ben Wooldridge went down with a foot injury. Defenses dominated the first quarter and a lightning delay sent the teams back into the locker room deadlocked at 0-0. The Cajuns used the two-hour break to reset behind freshman QB Zeon Chriss and came out firing on all cylinders, outscoring the Blazers 24-0 before halftime to take control of the game. RB Jacob Kibodi and Chriss each tallied over 100 yards on the ground and combined to score three touchdowns. RB Elijah Davis chipped in with 42 rushing yards and Cajun runner combined to average 7.6 yards per carry. Congratulations to UL OL Coach Bryant Ross (@CoachBryantRoss) on the win! Ross is in the second year of his second stint in Lafayette and last year helped the Cajuns reach the Independence Bowl. He returned to Lafayette after serving as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach at Grambling in 2021. From 2018-20, he was an offensive analyst for the Cajuns, helping UL win three division titles and one conference title. Ross has also coached at Mississippi State, where he won the 2017 Gator Bowl, and Central State from 2014-16.
Golden Rams Defeat Maroon Tigers in 2nd Annual Toyota HBCU New York Classic
There ain’t no party like a West Coast party and there ain’t no homecoming like an HBCU homecoming. The world’s largest HBCU homecoming took place this weekend in New York and the result was once again kind to the CI Family. Last year, it was Howard Head Coach Larry Scott and the Bison who took down Morehouse in the HBCU New York Classic and this season it was Albany State Head Coach Quinn Gray, Sr. (@CoachQGray) and the Rams who took down the Maroon Tigers. In front of 18,000, Gray picked up his first of many wins as Albany State’s head coach, jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first 10 minutes and never looking back en route to a 24-14 victory. The first two scores demonstrated the Rams’ versatility on offense. First, WR Ralph Lovett capped a methodical, 13-play, 70-yard drive that took 6:45 off the clock when he caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from QB Isaiah Knowles on fourth down. On ASU’s second drive, the Rams’ quick strike ability was on full display when WR Rashad Jordan took a screen pass, eluded one tackler and was off to the races, going 58 yards for a score. Lovett and Jordan’s scores were more than enough for ASU’s Dirty Blue defense. LB Randy Fillingame filled up the stat sheet for the Rams, logging a team-high eight tackles, including two tackles-for-loss and one sack. As a unit, Dirty Blue recorded seven sacks and one interception while holding Morehouse to just 212 yards of offense. Congratulations to Gray on the landmark win! Gray spent the 2022 season as the Senior Offensive Analyst at Memphis after two years as the quarterbacks coach at Alcorn State and a three-year stint as the head coach at Lincoln H.S. in Tallahassee, FL. He previously served as the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida A&M from 2011-14. As a player, Gray finished his career at FAMU as the program's all-time leader in passing yards, completions and passing touchdowns. He went on to enjoy a seven-year playing career in the NFL and won World Bowl XI with the Frankfurt Galaxy in 2003.
New Mexico Highlands beats Fort Lewis, 31-17
Ron Hudson's (@NMHUcoachrhud) job starts off easy enough when he tells a recruit that he wants them to come play for him in Las Vegas. It becomes decidedly more difficult when he next has to explain that he’s referring to Las Vegas, New Mexico and not Sin City. Now in his second season at the helm of one of the most difficult jobs in Division 2, Hudson inherited a New Mexico Highlands program that posted a combined record of 15-62 (19%) from 2013-19. With 39 freshmen on this year’s roster, the rebuild is in full effect but the early returns are promising. With Saturday’s 31-17 win over Fort Lewis, the Cowboys are 2-1 for the first time since 2012. True to his roots as an offensive line coach, Hudson’s charges bulldozed their way through the Skyhawks. In the early going, it was RB Shawntay Mills, Jr. who led the ground attack for the Cowboys, rushing for a pair of touchdowns in the first 18 minutes to put the visitors up 14-0. As the game wore on, QB Joey Cave began to exert his influence. The junior signal caller led all rushers with 100 yards on 11 carries and was equally proficient in the passing game, completing 10-of-13 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown. His scoring pass came after Fort Lewis had pulled within seven at 17-10 and created separation early in the fourth quarter. The Skyhawks once again drew within one possession, but a late two-yard touchdown rush by Cowboy RB Malik Norman provided the finishing touch. Congratulations to Hudson on the win and strong start to the season! Prior to taking over at Highlands, Hudson served as the Cowboys’ associate head coach and special teams coordinator for the 2021 season. From 2018-20, he served as the offensive line coach at Georgia Southern, where he helped the Eagles finish in the top 7 nationally in rushing each year and win 25 total games. He had a six-year stint at Louisiana, where he served as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator and helped the Ragin’ Cajuns become bowl eligible four times.
Shorter knocks out Chowan, 57-20
Now in his third season as Shorter’s offensive line coach, Scott Curd (@coachcurd) has overseen consistent improvement from the Hawks’ ground game. In 2022, Shorter averaged 143.5 rushing yards per game and 4.0 yards per carry, both the highest marks for the program since 2015. Through three games this season, the Hawks have two wins and again appear to be trending upward. Against Chowan, RB Jaiden Dollard paced a rushing attack that gained 184 yards, averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns. Dollard accounted for 107 of those yards, followed closely by RB Noah Holland who carried the ball seven times for 83 yards and one score. Holland’s touchdown came on a 64-yard scamper with 4:49 remaining in the third quarter that put Shorter up 36-6 and ended any hope of a Chowan comeback bid. Congratulations to Curd on the win and prolific rushing stats. Prior to arriving in Rome, GA, Curd spent two seasons as an offensive analyst working with the line at UAB. While there, the Blazers won two division titles and the 2020 C-USA championship. With Curd’s contributions, the Blazer offensive line in 2020 finished fourth in the nation in sacks allowed and averaged over 200 yards per game rushing. Curd also boasts 25 years of coaching experience at the high school level in Alabama.

Quick Hits

  • Syracuse Offensive Coordinator/QB Jason Beck (@Coach_Beck7) was named one of On3's Power 5 cordinators of the week after the Orange posted 455 total yards in a 35-20 win over Purdue to improve to 3-0.
  • At the Group of 5 level, FIU Defensive Coordinator/LB Jovan Dewitt (@Coach_Dewitt) was recognized by On3 as the Panthers have won three in a row and held three opponents to 22 points or less.
  • William & Mary's defense was lights out on Saturday as the Tribe didn't give up any points on defense, held Charleston Southern to just 77 yards of offense, forced four sacks, two interceptions and recorded a safety in a 15-7 win! Congratulations to Head Coach Mike London (@CoachMikeLondon), Special Teams Coor./OLB Darryl Blackstock (@CoachBlackstock) and Safeties Coach Billy Parker (@CoachBParker17)!
  • Benedict rolled to another blowout win, this time a 54-7 decision over Lane. Through three games, the Tigers have outscored their opposition by a 140-7 margin and outgained them by 1,353-327. Congratulations to Head Coach Chennis Berry (@coachberry77)!
  • Fort Valley State came out on top, 34-31, after a wild finish to their game with Edward Waters that saw the lead change hands three times in the final 5:27. Congratulations to Wildcats Head Coach Shawn Gibbs (@CoachShawnGibbs)!
  • Northern Iowa's defense forced four sacks and recorded an interception in a 41-17 win over Idaho State. Congratulations to Panthers Defensive Coordinator Jeremiah Johnson (@Coach_J_Johnson)!
  • Austin Peay QB Mike DiLiello set a new program record with 441 passing yards and six touchdowns as the Governors walloped East Tennessee State, 63-3. Congratulations to APSU Co-Offensive Coordinator/WR Lanear Sampson (@CoachSampson3)!
  • Lafayette RB Jamar Curtis rushed for 145 yards as the Leopards cruised to a 24-3 win over Columbia. Congratulations to Offensive Coordinator/QB T.J. DiMuzio (@CoachTJD)!
Be sure to watch tonight as CI's pair of NFL offensive coordinators go heads-up when Pete Carmichael and the Saints travel to Charlotte to take on Thomas Brown and the Panthers.

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