CI Week 7 Football Highlights

Coaches Inc. Week 7 Highlights feature eight CI coaches who cruised to blowouts and two others who rallied late to secure wins. Keep reading for more details.

Josh Norman got backed into a corner, and turned the pressure into a Washington victory
Ask anyone who has coached in the NFL and college and they'll tell you that it takes a different skill set to be successful at each level. While college coaches are tasked with endless hours of recruiting, NFL coaches must be able to connect with the often outsized personalities of professional athletes. As far as secondary coaches go, one would be hard pressed to find anyone who has done it better at both levels than Torrian Gray (@togray14). In over a decade at the college level, most recently at Virginia Tech and Florida, Gray mentored six All-Americans and 13 NFL draft selections. While with the Hokies, Gray's defensive backs consistently ranked among the nation's best in pass defense and helped the program reach 10 bowl games, four BCS bowl games and three ACC titles. Since transitioning back to the NFL with Washington in 2017, Gray hasn't missed a beat. Last year, Washington posted its best season of pass defense since 2009 and ranked third in the league in completion percentage allowed. While Washington jumped out to a 2-1 start this season, they hit a road bump last week versus the Saints. Washington CB Josh Norman found himself a target of Drew Brees on the field and in the middle of a postgame media controversy off the field. Whether it was guidance from Gray or another factor, Norman bounced back in a big way versus the Panthers. In the second quarter, Norman logged his first interception of the year and on Carolina's next possession he forced a fumble that setup a Washington field goal. Safety D.J. Swearinger also made a significant contribution with a team-high seven tackles and one sack in the 23-17 win. With the victory, Washington sits atop the NFC East at 3-2 heading into next week's matchup against Dallas. Congratulations and good luck to Gray!

Howard dominates early en route to 55-13 rout of Hornets
It was a month later than originally scheduled due to Hurricane Florence, but Howard Head Coach Mike London (@CoachMikeLondon) and the Bison finally opened their home schedule on Saturday against Delaware State. For the home fans, it was well worth the wait. Brennan Marion's (@BrennanMarion4) offense wasted no time getting started as QB Caylin Newton connected with RB Jordan Aley on a 20-yard pitch-and-catch on the team's first possession to put the Bison up 7-0. From there, Howard never looked back. Newton would finish the game with five touchdown passes including three to WR Jequez Ezzard, who finished with 191 receiving yards. Ezzard became the first player in HU history to record back-to-back three touchdown games. On the other side of the ball, Vincent Brown's (@CoachVBrown59) defense shut down any hopes the Hornets had of keeping pace. LB Zamon Robinson led the Bison defensively as the freshman tallied a team-high six tackles to go along with three tackles-for-loss and one sack. Overall, Howard outgained Delaware State by a margin of 511-379 and improved to 2-1 in the MEAC with the win. Congratulations to London, Asst. Head Coach/DefCoor/LB Brown, OffCoor/QB Marion, Safeties Coach Cato June (@CatoJune), and Director of Operations Kenny Lucas (@CoachKennyLucas)! London and Brown previously worked together at Virginia and Richmond, where the pair won the 2008 FCS National Championship. In 2011, London and Brown led Virginia to an 8-5 record and an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl en route to London being named ACC Coach of the Year. Brown has also coached with the Cowboys and served as the co-defensive coordinator at UConn from 2014-16. Marion was hired to direct the team's offense in 2017 after serving as the Passing Game Coordinator at Kentucky Christian in 2016. June originally joined the Howard staff in 2016 as running backs coach after a seven-year playing career in the NFL. He earned First Team All-Pro honors in 2005 and won Super Bowl XLI as a member of the Colts. Lucas joined the Bison in 2017 after serving as Morgan State's assistant head coach and running backs coach from 2015-16.

Lewerke rallies Michigan State over #8 Penn State, 21-17
If you want to know how unlikely Michigan State's upset of Penn State was, consider that a writer for the Lansing State Journal had already written his game recap, documenting a Nittany Lion victory, before the game was over. That writer, along with many others, gave the Spartans little chance of going into Happy Valley and emerging victorious without the services of five injured starters on offense, including two wideouts and RB LJ Scott. With their backs against the wall, Co-Offensive Coordinator/TE Jim Bollman (@CoachJimBollman) and the rest of the MSU coaching staff pulled no punches. The Spartans ran a successful fake punt and halfback pass in the first quarter, and later eschewed a potentially game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter to run a fake that was broken up. That missed opportunity looked as though it would haunt MSU as Penn State held a 17-14 lead until the final minute of the game. But with 34 seconds left, MSU QB Brian Lewerke completed a pass to WR Laress Nelson for 11 yards to the Penn State 33-yard line. Once again, the Spartans had little interest in a game tying field goal. This time, however, the aggressiveness paid off as Lewerke connected with WR Felton Davis III for a 25-yard touchdown with 19 seconds remaining to give MSU a 21-17 lead. Congratulations to Bollman on the comeback! Bollman is in the sixth year of his second stint in East Lansing and has helped guide the Spartans to two Big Ten titles since his return. From 2001-11. he served as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Ohio State, where he helped guide the Buckeyes to seven conference championships and five BCS bowl games, including the 2002 national championship.

UAB dominates Rice on road, 42-0
At 5-1 overall and 3-0 in C-USA, UAB has matched its best start in program history. Once again, the Blazers ended up on the winning side thanks to a dominant defense. It was a true team effort for Defensive Coordinator David Reeves' unit as 25 different Blazers ended up with tackles on the day. While the wealth was spread out among the defense, DL Stacy Keely stood out with two tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack and one forced fumble. As a defense, UAB tallied three sacks and currently ranks second nationally with 3.83 sacks per game. Despite rotating in several backups, UAB kept Rice off the scoreboard to notch its second shutout of the season and fourth game giving up seven points or fewer. With six games still to go, the Blazers have already set a new program record for shutouts in a season and Saturday marked the first time that the Owls had been kept scoreless in 210 games. Congratulation to Reeves, who is in his in his fifth year in Birmingham and third as defensive coordinator after previously serving as defensive line coach. Reeves previously coached the defensive line at Jacksonville State and has also worked at UT Martin and Southern Arkansas. From 2005-06, he was a graduate assistant at Alabama.

Stony Brook victorious in 35-7 routing of New Hampshire
In analyzing how #19 Stony Brook raced out to a 4-1 record with its lone defeat coming against FBS member Air Force, it's clear that the team's offense is predicated on a strong rushing attack. The Seawolves currently rank second in the CAA with just under 200 rushing yards per game. Against New Hampshire, however, Stony Brook switched things up a bit and showed how effective it can be through the air. On the Seawolves' opening drive, WR Andrew Trent hauled in his first career touchdown reception, an eight-yard pass from QB Joe Carbone that put the visitors up 7-0. A pair of defensive scores helped extend Stony Brook's lead to 21-0. The Wildcats cut the deficit to 21-7 by halftime, but another touchdown pass from Carbone, this time to WR Marshall Ellick, restored the 21-point lead and effectively put the game away. Congratulations to Stony Brook WR Coach Darren Paige (@WRcoachPaige), who is in his first season with the Seawolves after spending the 2017 campaign in the same role at Holy Cross. From 2013-16, he served as the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Midwestern State where he mentored six all-conference selections. The AFCA recently published an article Paige wrote detailing the characteristics necessary for a receiver to be successful in an RPO system. Click here to read more. In 2017, Paige completed a Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship with the Tennessee Titans.

Seton Hill rallies to end 20-game losing streak
It was long overdue and included several near misses, but Seton Hill's losing streak is finally over. Despite not having won a game since 2016 and dealing with an injured list long enough for three teams, the Seton Hill players have continued to buy-in to the plan put in place by Offensive Coordinator/OL Charles Eger (@CoachEger) and the rest of the Griffin coaching staff. That commitment and resiliency was on full display versus Mercyhurst as Seton Hill found itself down 31-7 in the third quarter. Rather than throw in the towel, the Griffins responded, led by WR Ardell Brown and RB Cinque Sweeting. Brown jump-started the rally with a 54-yard touchdown reception from QB Chris Jones to cut the deficit to 31-14. After RB Cinque Sweeting scored a pair of touchdowns to pull Seton Hill within five points, Brown delivered the dagger. With a little over two minutes remaining in the game, he returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown to give the Griffins their first lead of the day. On the ensuing possession, Mercyhurt gained one first down, but Seton Hill DB Syeko Noble Jr. sealed the win with an interception in the end zone at the 1:14 mark. Congratulations on the win to Eger, who is in his sixth season with the program. Despite the team's struggles, Eger's offense has been a bright spot for the Griffins over the past several years. The team has finished in the top 18 nationally in Passing Offense each of the last three seasons, including a first place finish in 2016. Far from a one-dimensional offense, Seton Hill has also had success on the ground under Eger as evidenced by the team's average of 120 rushing yards per game in 2015. Prior to arriving in Greensburg, PA, Eger spent three seasons at Widener University, where he served as the team's offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator.

Shippensburg gets back in win column with 37-0 shutout at Millersville
After dropping three consecutive games by a combined 13 points, Shippensburg left nothing to chance in a blowout win over Millersville. TE Shea O'Donnell got the scoring started when he caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from QB Brycen Mussina in the first quarter to give the Red Raiders a 7-0 lead. The visitors would tack on two more touchdowns and a field goal to take a 23-0 lead into halftime. The second half was more of the same as RB Marcus Lominy ground out 91 rushing yards on 19 carries to salt away the win. The senior Lominy gave way to sophomore backup RB Raleigh Sirb who put the icing on the cake with a 10-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter to cap the 37-0 victory. Led by Lominy and Sirb, the Red Raiders set a new season-high with 258 yards on the ground. Congratulations on the win and rushing performance to Shippensburg RB Coach KiJuan Ware (@KIJUANWARE)! Ware is in his first season with the program after serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Shorter from 2016-17. He previously coached the quarterbacks at Williams College and also boasts experience at the FBS level with stints at Eastern Michigan, Miami (OH) and Notre Dame.

Quick Hits
  • LA Rams RB Todd Gurley set a career-high with 208 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 23-20 win over Denver. Congratulations to RB Coach Skip Peete!
  • Winnipeg won its fourth game in a row by defeating Saskatchewan 31-0 to remain in the driver's seat for a playoff berth with two games remaining. Congratulations to Blue Bombers Special Teams Coordinator Paul Boudreau (@bouqb2)!
  • Delaware upset #5 Elon, 28-16, marking the Blue Hens' first victory over a top 5 team since 2010. Congratulations to Head Coach Danny Rocco and Offensive Coordinator/RB Matt Simon (@RBsSaySimonSays)!
  • For four hours on Saturday, Florida A&M players were able to set aside thoughts of the destruction being caused at home by Hurricane Michael. Despite falling behind 21-6 at halftime, the Rattlers rallied to stun North Carolina A&T, 22-21, to remain perfect in MEAC games at 4-0. Congratulations to Head Coach Willie Simmons (@HCWillieSimmons)!
  • Congratulations to Kutztown Head Coach Jim Clements (@KUHC_Clements) who won his 100th career game as the Golden Bears improved to 6-0 with a 41-0 win over Lock Haven!
  • Making his first career start, Southern QB Ladarius Skelton accounted for 370 yards of offense and four touchdowns in the Jaguars' 38-0 win at Prairie View A&M. Congratulations to Asst. Head Coach/OffCoor/OL Chennis Berry (@CoachBerry77)!
  • Alcorn State DE Theron Bonds blocked a punt that turned into a safety in the Braves' 35-26 win over Alabama A&M. Congratulations to Special Teams Coordinator/RB Lane Powell (@CoachLanePowell)!
  • Congratulations to Kansas Wesleyan Head Coach Matt Drinkall (@DrinkallKWU) who guided his team to a 41-12 win over Tabor College! With the win, the Coyotes moved up to #9 in this week's NAIA poll - a new high for the program.

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