CI Week 6 Highlights

As we head into the second half of the regular season at the college level, many teams are positioning themselves for the postseason. Seven CI FBS coaches currently have their teams positioned in the AP Top 25 including #6 Tennessee WR Coach Kelsey Pope (@CoachKelseyPope), #9 Ole Miss Defensive Analyst Elijah Sandweiss (@ElijahSandweiss), #13 TCU IWR Coach Doug Meacham (@doug_meacham), #18 Syracuse QB Coach Jason Beck (@Coach_Beck7), #19 Kansas WR Coach Terrence Samuel (@CoachTSamuel), #21 Cincinnati RB Coach Darren Paige (@RBCoachPaige) and #22 Texas Senior Defensive Analyst/CB Joey Thomas (@Joey_thomas24_). Congratulations to each of them as well as to Coastal Carolina Co-Offensive Coordinator/RB Newland Isaac (@coachisaacFB) on the Chanticleers already securing bowl eligibility with a perfect 6-0 start! Keep reading for more highlights from Week 6.
Back in 2007, the Giants and the Dolphins became the first two NFL teams to play a game in London. New York won that game and went on to win Super Bowl XLII at the end of the season. The Giants won their second London game in 2016 and on Sunday they joined the Patriots and Vikings as the only clubs to have won all three of their games across the pond. While NFL teams have met in London 32 times since the Giants' first win, Sunday's game was notable for the fact that it marked the first time that both teams entered the game possessing winning records. With the stakes high, the Giants came through with a dominant second half and solid performances from all three phases. Coming out of halftime, Green Bay held a 20-10 advantage but New York chipped away, starting with a 37-yard field goal from Graham Gano midway through the third quarter. A pair of two-yard touchdown runs by running backs Gary Brightwell, Jr. and Saquon Barkley in the fourth quarter gave the Giants the lead for the first time with 6:08 left to play. A critical goal line stop by the defense brought the Giants closer to the finish line. Following three knees by QB Daniel Jones, New York punter and U.K. native Jamie Gillan delivered the finishing touches when he ran precious seconds off the clock before taking an intentional safety and then booted a 57-yard free kick that the Giant punt team covered without incident. With the win, the Giants improve to 4-1 for their best start since 2009. Congratulations to New York Assistant Special Teams Coach Anthony Blevins (@DocBPhd33) on the win and strong start to the season! Blevins is in his fifth season in the Big Apple and fourth working with special teams after having assisted with the club's defensive backs in 2020. Last season, he pulled double duty, coaching linebackers in addition to his duties with special teams. He had great success in both roles, helping LB Azeez Ojulari set a new franchise record for rookies with eight sacks while the Giants' kickoff coverage unit led the league by allowing only 17.8 yards per return. Blevins previously spent five seasons as the assistant special teams coach with the Arizona Cardinals. At the college level, he has coached defensive backs at Mississippi State, UAB, Tennessee-Martin and Tennessee State.  
Only in college football can a war of words start over sunglasses and a debate over the difference between climate and culture. But such was the reality when South Carolina and Kentucky met on Saturday in Lexington after comments at media days in July increased the stakes in the battle between SEC East foes. In the end, it was the Gamecocks donning the sunglasses and dancing to Soulja Boy after picking up the program's first road win over a ranked team in three years. To do it, South Carolina relied on a lock down defensive performance. The Gamecock defense got off to a fast start when DB David Spaulding forced a fumble on the game's first play from scrimmage that DL Tonka Hemmingway recovered at Kentucky's two-yard line. One play later, South Carolina RB MarShawn Lloyd cashed in for the touchdown to give the Gamecocks an early 7-0 lead. From there, the game turned into a slugfest. South Carolina's defense forced back-to-back punts from the Wildcats, the second of which was blocked by DB King-Demenian Ford, but the Gamecock offense was unable to convert before Kentucky tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter. In the second half, South Carolina's offense got on track and reeled off 17 straight points. Kentucky finally responded with a fourth quarter touchdown but it was too little, too late as Spaulding provided a fitting bookend when he recorded his first interception of the season on the Gamecocks' final defensive play. For the game, South Carolina's defense forced six sacks and held Kentucky to its lowest scoring output since Week 7 of last year. Congratulations to Gamecock DB Coach Torrian Gray (@togray14) on the win and big plays by Spaulding and Ford! Gray is in his second season at South Carolina after two seasons as the cornerbacks coach at Florida. Last year, he directed a Gamecock secondary that led the SEC in Passing Yards Allowed and ranked second in Interceptions. In over a decade at Virginia Tech and Florida, Gray mentored six All-Americans and 14 NFL draft selections, including C.J. Henderson who was selected with the 9th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. On a team level, he helped guide the Hokies to 10 bowl games and three conference championships. At the professional level, Gray spent the 2017-18 seasons as the defensive backs coach for Washington and also spent two years with the Chicago Bears.
Colorado State stuns Nevada with last-second field goal
Lexington wasn't the only site with heightened tensions in Week 6. Against a backdrop of several Colorado State coaches and players making the move from Nevada to Fort Collins after last season, emotions were high and trash talk was flowing on Friday night in Reno. For Colorado State CB Coach Marcus Patton (@marcuspatton4) and the rest of the Rams staff, the message to their players was to tune out the distractions and focus on playing hard for one another. The message was received loud and clear, especially by CSU’s defense. Despite little help from the offense, the Ram defense scored twice and limited the Wolfpack to just 114 rushing yards on 39 carries (2.9 ypc). DB Ayden Hector got CSU on the board first when he returned an interception 21 yards for a score to put the visitors up 7-0. Ram DL Mukendi Wa-Kalonji doubled the advantage when he scooped up a fumble and returned it 50 yards for a score with 3:44 remaining in the first quarter. Nevada would come back to tie the game at 14-14 with 8:53 left in the fourth quarter, but the Colorado State defense forced punts on Nevada's final two offensive possessions to setup a game-winning 43-yard field goal from Michael Boyle as time expired. Congratulations to Patton on the win and the defense's dominant performance! Patton arrived in Fort Collins this year after six seasons as the defensive coordinator at Tarleton State. He was instrumental in leading a seamless transition for the Texans to Division I from Division II. In the 2021 spring season, the Texans went 5-3 in their first games at the FCS level, limiting opponents to an average of 19.3 points per game and holding four opponents to under 200 yards of offense. In its final two years of competition in Division II from 2018-19, the Tarleton defense gave up only 16.4 points per game en route to back-to-back LSC titles, two undefeated regular seasons, a regional final appearance and a #3 national ranking. Patton previously served as the defensive coordinator at Colorado Mesa and Fairmont State and has Division I experience from stints at UCLA and USF.
The year was 1967 and Leslie Gore's "California Nights" was soaring up the Billboard Hot 100. Fifty-five years later and Gore's single is quickly becoming the soundtrack for the Oregon State season. In Week 2, the Beavers were at Fresno State and found themselves down three late into the night. With the ball at Fresno State's two-yard line and three seconds on the clock, OSU eschewed a game-tying field goal in favor of playing for the win. ILB and wildcat QB Jack Colletto delivered the Miracle in the Valley when he found a hole off-tackle and plunged into the end zone to send the Beavers back to Corvallis with a 2-0 record. On Saturday night in Palo Alto, it was WR Tre'Shaun Harrison's turn to shock the Cali locals. With Oregon State trailing by five and 13 seconds left in the game, Harrison reached around a Stanford defender to catch an underthrown ball behind the defender's back, eluded another would-be tackler and scampered 56 yards for the winning touchdown. Before Harrison's circus catch, the Beavers' improbable rally began with WR Silas Bolden catching a 21-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-8 to cut the deficit to 24-16. Nine minutes later, they pulled within two when RB Damien Martinez broke free for a 43-yard touchdown run. For the game, Martinez rushed for a career-high 83 yards while RB Jam Griffin added 75 yards on 13 carries. On the defensive end, DB Ryan Cooper, Jr. ensured that Harrison's highlight would stand up when he intercepted a last gasp pass from Stanford QB Tanner McKee. Congratulations to Oregon State DB Coach Blue Adams (@CoachAdamsOSU) and RB Coach A.J. Steward (@Coach_Steward) on the dramatic comeback! Adams is in his fourth season at Oregon State and last year helped guide the Beavers to their first bowl game since 2013. He arrived in Corvallis after a two-year stint as the defensive backs coach at USF and one season at West Virginia. With the Mountaineers, he molded Rasul Douglas from second string to Second Team All-American and a third-round draft pick. Adams previously served as the assistant defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins and has also coached at Northern Iowa. Steward is in his second year with the program and made an immediate impact in his first season, guiding RB B.J. Baylor to Honorable Mention All-American honors and a First Team All-PAC 12 selection after the junior became the first Beaver to lead the conference in rushing since Steven Jackson in 2003. Steward boasts prior experience coaching running backs at Arizona, BYU and Rice. In 10 seasons as a coach, he has helped guide teams to six bowl games.
It's difficult to overstate the significance of Texas State's 36-24 win over Appalachian State. With questions about the program's future swirling, the stars aligned perfectly on Saturday night in Texas Hill Country. The stage was set when Texas State students and fans turned out in full force to support the team, drawing the seventh biggest crowd in program history and largest ever for a Sun Belt conference game. Feeding off the atmosphere, the Bobcats jumped out to a 24-0 lead over the Mountaineers, highlighted by touchdown receptions from wide receivers Charles Brown and Ashtyn Hawkins. In the third quarter, it was the Bobcat defense's turn to get in on the scoring. Safety Tory Spears made what may have been the play of the game when he picked off a pass from App State QB Chase Brice and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown to increase the Texas State lead to 30-3 and effectively squash any Mountaineer momentum. With the win, the Bobcats are 3-3 and off to their best start since 2014. The win was also significant in that it marked the program's first-ever victory over Appalachian State. For the game, Hawkins finished with a game-high 105 receiving yards on six catches, marking his third 100+ receiving yard performance of the season. Defensively, Spears posted a game-high 12 tackles to go along with his pick-six. DL Levi Bell chipped in with five tackles and 1.5 sacks and London Harris paced the Bobcat linebacker corps with 10 stops and one quarterback pressure. Congratulations to Texas State Co-Defensive Coordinator/ILB Brian Gamble (@CoachBGamble) and OWR Coach Chris Buckner (@coachcbuckner) on the program defining win! Gamble arrived in San Marcos in 2021 after spending the previous three seasons as the linebackers coach at Louisiana Tech. With the Bulldogs, he helped guide the program to three bowl games, one division title and a #4 national ranking in Sacks in 2018. Gamble played at Texas A&M and served as a defensive grad assistant at Houston early in his career. He went on to enjoy a 10-year tenure at Incarnate Word, ultimately serving as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator for seven seasons. Buckner is in his first season with the Bobcats after a two-year stint as the running backs at Sam Houston State. With the Bearkats, Buckner won the FCS National Championship in spring 2021 and helped guide the program to a conference title and quarterfinal playoff appearance in the fall of 2021. He spent the 2019 season coaching the running backs at Southern Miss and boasts experience working with wide receivers from a stint at Arkansas State and as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during his time at Western New Mexico. Since beginning his coaching career in 2010, Buckner has mentored 16 all-conference selections, including three All-Americans and two named either conference offensive player or receiver of the year.
Head Coach Jordan Stevens (@CoachStevensFB) embodies Maine Football. As a player for the Black Bears from 2006-09, Stevens was a team captain, team MVP and all-conference selection. After a brief pro playing career with the Detroit Lions and Hartford Colonials in 2010, Stevens returned to Orono in 2011 to begin his coaching career. He cut his coaching teeth at Maine, starting as a defensive assistant working with the team's defensive line and outside linebackers before being promoted to defensive line coach in 2013. Over a four-year coaching stint with the Black Bears, Stevens helped guide his alma mater to two playoff appearances and the 2013 CAA Championship, the program's first conference title since 2002. In 2015, he accepted the defensive line position at Yale, where he was part of a staff that won the Ivy League title in 2017 and consistently ranked among the league's top defenses. Stevens spent seven years in New Haven but when the Maine head coaching position opened in November, the prospect of returning to Orono as head coach was a no-brainer. On Saturday, Stevens earned his first win as head coach, a 31-24 contest over Hampton. While Maine held a 17-14 advantage at halftime, it appeared that the Pirates had seized control of the game in the third quarter thanks to a game-tying field goal followed by a go-ahead touchdown reception from Hampton WR Jadakis Bonds. Luckily for Stevens and the Black Bears, the fourth quarter belonged to Maine RB Freddie Brock. The junior running back out of New York scored two touchdowns in the final quarter to lift Maine to victory, the first coming on a seven-yard rush with 11:57 remaining and the second on a 25-yard reception with 7:15 left to play. Maine DB Austin Ambush ensured Brock's efforts were not in vain as he sealed the game by intercepting a Hampton pass with just over a minute remaining. Congratulations to Stevens on his first of many wins as head coach!
With the Texas State Fair taking place right outside of the Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma didn't need to venture past the stadium gates to experience their very own house of horrors. The Longhorns dominated the Sooners to the tune of 49-0, representing the most lopsided score in the 118-year history of the Red River Shootout and the worst shutout in Oklahoma history. There was no shortage of standout performances for Texas. Offensively, the story starts with QB Quinn Ewers and RB Bijan Robinson, with the former throwing for 289 yards and four touchdowns while the latter racked up 130 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Defensively for the Longhorns, defensive backs Jahdae Barron and D'Shawn Jamison each notched interceptions while DB Jerrin Thompson and LB Jaylan Ford tied for the team lead with seven tackles. Truthfully, it was a collective effort defensively for a Texas defense that forced five punts and one turnover-on-downs by the Sooners in the second half. In seven total offensive drives, Oklahoma was only able to muster a combined total of 19 yards. Congratulations to Texas Senior Defensive Analyst/CB Joey Thomas (@Joey_thomas24_) on the big win! Thomas arrived in Austin in February 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.
Quick Hits
  • Winnipeg took a key step towards defending its Grey Cup with a 48-11 win over Edmonton to secure the top seed in the CFL West Division. Congratulations to Blue Bombers Special Teams Coordinator Paul Boudreau (@bouqb2)!
  • Florida A&M WR Xavier Smith caught five passes for 102 yards and one touchdown in the Rattlers' 20-14 win over South Carolina State. Congratulations to FAMU Head Coach Willie Simmons (@HCWillieSimmons)!
  • Louisville RB Trevion Cooley rushed for 77 yards and one touchdown in the Cardinals' 34-17 win over Virginia. Congratulations to Louisville RB Coach De'Rail Sims (@DeRailSims)!
  • Benedict improved to 6-0 and achieved the program's first-ever top 25 ranking after defeating Miles, 20-3. Congratulations to Tigers Head Coach Chennis Berry (@coachberry77)!
  • Bryant racked up 623 yards of offense in cruising to a 56-10 win over Southern Connecticut State. Congratulations to Bulldogs Run Game Coordinator/OL Steven Ciocci (@CoachCiocci)!
  • Notre Dame held BYU to just 3-for-9 on third downs as the Irish upset the Cougars, 28-20. Congratulations to Notre Dame Senior Defensive Analyst Ronnie Regula (@CoachRRegula)!
  • Oklahoma Panhandle State won it's fourth consecutive game, beating Wayland Baptist, 38-10. Congratulations to Aggies Head Coach Bob Majeski (@CoachMojo4)!

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