CI Week 4 Highlights

The theme for the weekend was teamwork as four of this week's featured games include two or more CI coaches on the same staff. Keep reading for highlights from Week 4
In the postgame media scrum following the Browns’ 29-17 win over the Steelers, the praise for Cleveland QB Jacoby Brissett came from all corners. Natural leader, poised, phenomenal playmaker - these were just a few of the compliments for Brissett from his teammates. While many expressed skepticism regarding Cleveland’s quarterback situation following Baker Mayfield’s trade to Carolina and Deshaun Watson’s suspension, Brissett has silenced the critics by playing the best ball of his career. In the last two games against the Jets and Steelers, Brissett’s passer rating is 106.2 and his completion percentage is 74.1%. For comparison, entering this season his career-best passer rating for a single season was 88.0 with the Colts in 2019 and his best passing percentage was 62.7% in 2021 in Miami. Brissett has also been dynamic on his feet, picking up six yards on a rush in Thursday night's game to convert a critical drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a touchdown to extend Cleveland's lead to 23-14. Congratulations to Cleveland Bill Willis Diversity Coaching Fellow Israel Woolfork (@CoachIzzy_) on the win and Brissett's breakout performances! As the de facto Assistant Quarterbacks Coach, Woolfork in his first season as a full-time assistant for the club after completing a Bill Walsh Fellowship with the Browns in 2021. Woolfork previously spent nine seasons in Oxford, OH at Miami University, including four seasons as receivers coach and three working with the running backs. In 2021, he mentored WR Jack Sorenson who earned First-Team All-MAC honors and two of his running backs finished their careers in the top 15 for rushing yards in program history. As a player at Grand Valley State, Woolfork helped the Lakers reach the Division II National Championship Game in 2009.
When Woolfork left Miami in March, Myles White (@M_White03), a native of Livonia, Michigan just like Woolfork, slid into his role as the RedHawks' receiver coach. White teamed up with Miami OL Coach James Patton (@Coachjpatton) and RB Coach Lamar Conard (@CoachConard), as well as fellow newcomer DL Coach Ron Burton (@CoachRonBurton), to form a powerhouse quartet of CI coaches in Oxford. On Saturday, the foursome led Miami to its first win over a Big Ten opponent since Ben Roethlisberger was taking snaps for the RedHawks in 2003. Despite missing All-MAC QB Brett Gabbert, Miami used a stingy defense, strong run game and opportunistic special teams to pull off the upset. The first big play for the visitors came with 1:20 left in the half. With Miami trailing 7-0, DL Caiden Woullard burst through Northwestern's punt protection to get a piece of the ball and set the RedHawk offense up with great field position. Two plays later, QB Aveon Smith found WR Mac Hippenhammer for a 12-yard score to tie the game going into halftime. In the second half, the Miami run game began to exert its will on the Wildcats. With 8:34 remaining in the game, Northwestern had just retaken a 14-7 lead but Miami RB Keyon Mozee flipped the momentum when he broke free down the sideline for a 66-yard gain. One play later, Smith scored on a keeper to knot the score again at 14-14. After the RedHawk defense forced a three-and-out on the Wildcats' ensuing possession, Miami kicker Graham Nicholson converted a 36-yard field goal to secure the win. Mozee finished the game with 171 rushing yards, good for 4th place nationally among ball carriers in Week 4. Congratulations to White, Patton, Conard and Burton on the big upset! White arrived in Oxford after spending the 2021 season at Stephen F. Austin where he worked with All-American WR Xavier Gipson. He previously spent two seasons as an offensive quality control assistant at SMU, during which time he helped the Mustangs finish #4 in Total Offense in 2019 and 13th in the category in 2020. Conard is in his fifth season at Miami after nine seasons at Illinois State. With the Redbirds, he coached three 1,000-yard rushers, including the FCS leader in rushing yards and touchdowns in 2014. Conard began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Purdue. Patton returned to his alma mater in 2021 after two previous coaching stints in Oxford. He spent the 2019-20 seasons as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator at Eastern Michigan, where he helped the Eagles reach the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl. He previously served as the tight ends and fullbacks coach at Indiana and has also coached on staffs at Oklahoma, Pitt, Northwestern and Rhode Island. A 30-year coaching veteran, Burton spent the last nine seasons at Michigan State where he helped guide the Spartans to seven bowl games, including the 2015 CFP Semifinal. The only two-time winner of FootballScoop's national defensive line coach of the year award, Burton guided the Spartan defensive line to a first-place national finish in Rush Defense in 2018 and a second-place finish in 2013. He also boasts experience at UNC, Indiana and Air Force.
Pick any stat for Syracuse QB Garret Shrader and you're likely to find marked improvement from last season to the current one - completion percentage: up from 52.6% in 2021 to 66.4% in 2022; yards per attempt: up from 6.2 to 9.0; TD:INT ratio: up from 9:4 to 8:1; QBR: up from 113.7 to 163.8. While the numbers are staggering, they don't tell the full story of the impact that Syracuse QB Coach Jason Beck (@Coach_Beck7) has had on the junior. There's also been a huge improvement in Shrader's leadership and presence in the pocket as he has directed late, game winning drives in back-to-back weeks to help the Orange improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2018. As one of his former pupils, L.A. Rams QB Bryce Perkins tells it, Beck's calming influence "really resonates with people and quarterbacks and allows them to go out there and play freely. I think that's when people are at their best." Beck mentored Perkins and current San Francisco 49er signal caller Kurt Benkert over a six-year period at Virginia, but on Friday night he was on the opposite sideline from the Cavaliers and reminding them of the impact he is able to have. Shrader threw for 277 yards in Syracuse's 22-20 win with 25 of them coming on a 11-play, 62-yard drive on the Orange's final possession. Shrader also rushed for 12 yards on the final offensive play of the drive to setup Andre Szmyt's game-winning 31-yard field goal. Congratulations to Beck on the win and Shrader's development! Beck played quarterback at BYU and spent two stints on staff with the Cougars, including as quarterbacks coach from 2013-15 when he worked with current New Orleans Saint Taysom Hill. Beck also spent a year at LSU and was the offensive coordinator at Simon Fraser in 2012. 
After a rough schedule over the season's first three weeks that included a trip to Baylor, Albany picked up a dominant win over Central Connecticut State to enter their open week on a high note. While the end result was never in doubt, things got off to a very inauspicious start for the Great Danes. On the game's opening kickoff, Albany mishandled the ball and started its drive on its own three-yard line. Not ones to panic, Offensive Coordinator/QB Jared Ambrose (@CoachJambrose) and the Albany offense made lemonade out of lemons, dialing up a 97-yard touchdown run from RB Todd Sibley on the first play from scrimmage. The Great Danes would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way. Albany QB Joey Carino would add two touchdown rushes before halftime as the hosts had doubled up on their guests with a 24-12 lead at the break. In the second half, the Great Dane defense got in on the scoring. The Blue Devils reached the red zone on their first drive of the third quarter but were denied points when Albany DL Elijah Hills forced a strip sack that LB Joseph Greaney scooped up and returned 77 yards for a score. Albany QB Reese Poffenbarger would connect with the other Greaney brother, TE Thomas Greaney, for two second half touchdowns to close out the 45-26 win. For his efforts, Poffenbarger was named CAA Rookie of the Week after completing 18-of-26 passes for 257 yards and the two scores. Congratulations to Ambrose on Poffenbarger's honor as well as to Albany DL Coach Chris Calabrese (@Coach_Calabrese) on Hills' big play!  Ambrose is in his first season at Albany after a three-year stint in the same role at Delaware. With the Blue Hens, he coached the CAA Offensive Player of the Year and won a CAA Championship en route to reaching the FCS semifinals for the 2021 spring season. Ambrose spent the prior 10 seasons at Towson, including seven as offensive coordinator. With the Tigers, he helped guide the program to an historic turnaround that included two CAA Championships, two playoff appearances and a run to the 2013 FCS National Championship Game. Calabrese arrived at Albany last year and spent the 2021 campaign as a defensive assistant prior to his promotion to defensive line coach this season. He previously spent three years as the head coach at ASA College in Brooklyn and in 2019 he led ASA to a #15 ranking in the final NJCAA poll. Calabrese is an AFCA 35 Under 35 alum after his selection to the prestigious fraternity in 2020.
It's an overused cliche that there are no easy weeks in any conference but the saying does have merit in the Missouri Valley Football Conference where four teams are currently ranked in the top 25, including three in the top 10. Add in two non-conference games against FBS member Air Force and another FCS top 10 program in Sacramento State and it has been a Murderers' Row to start the season for Northern Iowa. Saturday's matchup at Western Illinois presented one of the few opportunities for the Panthers to take advantage of an opponent without postseason aspirations and they did not let it slip. UNI DB Woo Governor was named MVFC Defensive Player of the Week after he tied a program record with two pick-sixes in a single game. Woo's touchdowns came just over a minute apart, the first off of a 43-yard interception return with 6:07 left in the second quarter and the second coming with 5:04 left in the half off of a 49-yard return. The Panthers would add a field goal later in the quarter to take a 38-10 lead into halftime and rolled in the second half to a 52-17 victory. In addition to Woo, DB Benny Sapp III also recorded an interception as the Panthers limited the Leathernecks to 3-for-12 on third down and racked up four sacks on the day. Congratulations to UNI Defensive Coordinator Randall McCray (@mccray_randall) on the win and Woo's historic day! McCray is in his first season in Cedar Falls after spending last season as the linebackers coach at Florida International. Prior to that, he served as the assistant special teams coach for the Arizona Cardinals after a two-year stint as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Texas State. In 28 seasons at the college level, McCray has worked with special teams and all defensive position groups during stops at Pitt, Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee, Toledo, Clemson and South Carolina among others.
If it's possible for one set of downs to turn the tide of an entire season, Northwestern State Defensive Coordinator Weston Glaser's (@Coach_Glaser) Purple Swarm defense may have pulled it off. Time will tell if the Demons can carry Saturday's momentum into future weeks, but Saturday's second quarter goal line stand undoubtedly shifted the balance for one game. With Lamar already holding a 10-0 lead, the Cardinals intercepted a pass that they returned to the NSU seven-yard line.  A two-yard rush followed by a four-yard rush got Lamar down to the one, but three straight stuffs, including one waived off for offsides, ensured the Cardinals would not reach the end zone. On the critical fourth down play, Demon safety Ronnie Caldwell and DL Isaiah Longino teamed up to stuff the Lamar ball carrier for a one-yard loss. The NSU offense took immediate advantage of its good fortune, driving 98 yards to get on the board and then scoring touchdowns on each of its next two possessions to take a 21-10 lead into halftime. The Demons would extend the lead to 35-13 before Lamar made a late push to pull within eight at 35-27. In the end it was too little too late for the Cardinals as NSU safety Jabari Reddock made the final tackle to preserve the win as time expired. Congratulations to Glaser and Northwestern State Safeties Coach Josh Jones (@Coach_JonesNSU) on the win!  Glaser is in his first season with the Demons after spending the previous four years at Campbell, including three as defensive coordinator and one as assistant head coach. In his first two seasons as defensive coordinator, Campbell led the Big South in Pass Defense as four Camel defenders earned all-conference recognition. Glaser spent the 2016-17 seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Texas A&M and was selected to participate in the AFCA’s 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute in 2019. Jones is in his second season in Natchitoches after spending the 2021 spring season as the defensive passing game coordinator at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, where he helped guide the Golden Lions to a SWAC West Division crown. Jones spent the previous three seasons as the cornerbacks coach at South Alabama, where he mentored two all-conference selections. Before arriving in Mobile, he held the same role at Central Arkansas, where he helped the Bears go 20-4 overall and 17-1 in Southland Conference games.
After dropping a pair of tough contests to top 25 teams, Adams State and Head Coach Jarrell Harrison (@CoachJHarrison_) had their backs against the wall. Needing to bounce back in a big way, the Grizzlies did just that in a 52-17 win over Fort Lewis. Adams State wasted no time in showing its resolve, taking the opening kickoff and marching 75 yards in 2:31 to take a 7-0 lead when QB Marckell Grayson found WR Kentrell Petite for a 20-yard touchdown. The Skyhawks would respond to tie the game at 7-7 by the end of the first quarter, but the Grizzlies took over beginning in the second quarter. RB Daylen Boddie struck first on a rush up the middle to reclaim the lead for Adams State and then Grayson extended it when he connected with WR Dequan Hopkins on a 40-yard scoring strike to increase the lead to 14. If the first half was about setting the tone for ASU, the second was about keeping the foot on the gas. Boddie ensured it would not be a problem as he added two more rushing touchdowns to finish with 83 rushing yards and three scores. On the other side of the ball, ASU Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Coor./DL Kai Ellis' (@Coach_KaiEllis) unit got the job done with stingy rush defense and big play pass defense. LB Anthony Alton, DB Chad Alioth and DB Joseph Wallace all recorded interceptions while the Grizzly front limited Fort Lewis to just 35 yards on 23 carries (1.5 ypc). Congratulations to Harrison and Ellis on the statement win! Now in his second season as ASU's head coach, Harrison served as the Grizzlies' defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator and has also coached the team's running backs since arriving in Alamosa in 2016. As a player, Harrison was an honorable mention All-Big 12 safety for Missouri and helped the Tigers climb as high as #6 in the national rankings. Ellis is in his fifth year with the Grizzlies and second as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. He arrived at ASU after a stint as the defensive coordinator at Briar Cliff and has also served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at West Hills CC. Following a nine-year professional playing career, Ellis began his coaching career as the assistant defensive line coach at Washington in 2013.
Quick Hits
  • Florida A&M overcame a 19-7 deficit to win its 12th straight home game, defeating Alabama A&M, 38-25. Congratulations to Rattlers Head Coach Willie Simmons (@HCWillieSimmons)!
  • Despite missing star WR Cedric Tillman, #8 Tennessee put up 576 yards of offense and knocked off Florida, 38-33, to earn its first top 10 ranking since 2006. Congratulations to Tennessee WR Coach Kelsey Pope (@CoachKelseyPope)!
  • South Carolina DB's D.Q. Smith and Cam Smith each had interceptions as the Gamecocks crushed Charlotte, 56-20. Congratulations to South Carolina DB Coach Torrian Gray (@togray14)!
  • Coastal Carolina RB C.J. Beasley rushed for a career-high 142 yards as the Chanticleers knocked off Georgia State, 41-24. Congratulations to CCU Co-Offensive Coordinator/RB Newland Isaac (@coachisaacFB)!
  • Air Force WR David Cormier caught an 80-yard TD pass as the Falcons improved to 3-1 with a 48-20 win over Nevada. Congratulations to Air Force WR Coach Ari Confesor (@CoachAC3)!
  • Troy LB Carlton Martial earned Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week honors after racking up 18 tackles and setting a new conference record for career tackles in the Trojans' 16-7 win over Marshall. Congratulations and happy birthday to Troy Defensive Assistant David Mackie (@Coach_DMACK)!
  • Culver-Stockton QB Jase Orndorff completed 29-of-46 passes for 348 yards and one touchdown as the Wildcats beat Central Methodist, 26-7. Congratulations to C-SC Head Coach Tom Sallay (@CoachSallayCSC)!
  • East Tennessee State DB's Alijah Huzzie and Sheldon Arnold II each had interceptions as the Buccaneers defeated Robert Morris, 45-3. Congratulations to ETSU DB Coach Chris Grimes (@CoachG_85)!
  • Alcorn State scored 28 unanswered points to rally from a 21-10 deficit and stun Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 38-21. Congratulations to Alcorn State Special Teams Coordinator Lane Powell (@CoachLanePowell)!
  • In a matchup of the GAC's top two ranked teams, #9 Ouachita Baptist used a stingy defense to knock off #7 Harding, 21-13.  Congratulations to Tigers Defensive Coordinator/LB Roy Thompson, Jr. (@RoyThompsonFB)!
Two more CI coaches will be in action tonight when the Cowboys travel to East Rutherford to face the Giants on Monday Night Football. Good luck to Cowboys Offensive Asst. Chase Haslett (@Coach_Haslett) and Giants Asst. Special Teams Coach Anthony Blevins (@DocBPhd33)!

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