CI Week 4 Football Highlights

The SEC and a handful of other programs kicked off their seasons on Saturday, including several CI coaches who won their openers while making debuts in new roles. Please
keep reading for Week 4 Highlights.
Baylor opens Aranda era with 47-14 win over Kansas
Last week, we highlighted Louisiana Defensive Analyst Keith Barefield (@rkbarefield) and the Ragin Cajun defense’s strong start to the season. The architect of that defense was Ron Roberts (@CoachRonRoberts), who helped guide UL to two consecutive division titles as the team’s defensive coordinator before accepting the same position at Baylor in January. In Waco, Roberts reunited with Baylor head coach Dave Aranda, who served as Roberts’ defensive coordinator at Delta State in 2007 when the Statesmen went 10-2 and reached the second round of the playoffs. Thirteen years later and on a much bigger stage, the chemistry between mentor and mentee was still evident as the Bears’ defense smothered the Jayhawks. Kansas struck first, going up 7-0 on their opening drive, but would only gain 249 yards the rest of the way with their only other score coming late in the fourth quarter, long after Baylor’s starters had finished their work. Leading the way for the Bear defense was LB Terrel Bernard, who finished with a game-high eight tackles to go along with 3.5 tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks and one safety. Congratulations to Roberts on the win and lights-out performance from his defense! Before arriving at Lafayette, Roberts spent six seasons as the head coach at Southeastern Louisiana. In 2013, he was named Southland Conference Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award after leading SLU to its first conference title in program history and a #6 national ranking.
Mississippi State upsets defending national champion LSU in Mike Leach’s SEC head coaching debut
Another CI coach with Southeastern Louisiana ties, Mississippi State OL Coach Mason Miller (@CoachMiller_) made his SEC debut on Saturday and the outcome could not have been sweeter. For just the second time since 1991, the Bulldogs went into Death Valley and knocked off LSU. In doing so, Mike Leach, Miller and the rest of the MSU offense introduced the SEC to the Air Raid at its peak. Graduate transfer QB K.J. Costello was also making his first appearance in the SEC and proceeded to set the all-time SEC single-game record with 623 passing yards to go along with five touchdowns. While some questioned how All-SEC RB Kylin Hill would fit into the new offense, those questions were answered in the third quarter when Hill ran a wheel route, catching a Costello pass and turning upfield for 75 yards and a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 27-24 lead. Hill finished with 192 total yards in the 44-34 win. Congratulations to Mason on the statement win! Miller made the move with Leach to Starkville from Washington State, where he spent two seasons as the Cougars’ offensive line coach, winning the 2017 PAC-12 North Division. He previously served as the offensive coordinator at Tarleton State, where he led one of the top performing offenses in the country. As the offensive line coach at Southeastern Louisiana, Miller and the legendary Hal Mumme resurrected a program that had not fielded a football team in nearly two decades. In just their second season, the duo led the Lions to the #1 offense in Division I-AA in 2004. Miller also boasts head coaching experience from his time at McMurry.
Tennessee beats South Carolina, 31-27
Another SEC offensive line coach who found his new home to be quite comfortable on Saturday was Tennessee’s Alex Jackson (@Coach_Ajax). After five years as an offensive coordinator, including winning the 2019 Black College National Championship with Florida A&M, Jackson decided to sacrifice job titles for the chance to coach at the game’s highest level as the Asst. OL Coach for the Volunteers. Early returns suggest he made the right decision. In a back-and-forth contest that featured three ties and four lead changes, Tennessee took the lead for good with 9:35 remaining in the game when QB Jarrett Guarantano connected with WR Josh Palmer for a 32-yard touchdown to give the Vols a 31-24 lead. For the game, Guarantano completed 19-of-31 passes for 259 yards, while running backs Ty Chandler and Eric Gray combined to add 126 yards on the ground for Tennessee. Congratulations to Jackson on the win! Prior to spending the past two seasons at Florida A&M, Jackson coordinated the offense and coached the offensive line at Prairie View A&M, where he helped the Panthers go 21-11 from 2015-17. He also coordinated Mississippi Valley State's offense from 2011-13, in between stints in off-field roles at Arkansas and Georgia. Jackson has completed Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowships with the Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings.

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