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Brian Blackmon is New UCF Special Teams Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach

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Brian Blackmon. Photo: Julie Bennett/AP via AL.com.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: UCF Athletics // Brian Blackmon, a former member of Gus Malzahn’s Auburn football staff and one of the most successful and respected high school coaches in the state of Alabama, rejoins Malzahn at UCF as the Knights’ new special teams coordinator and tight ends coach.

 

Blackmon in 2020 concluded his third season on the Troy football staff. He added the role of special teams coordinator prior to the 2019 season after coaching Troy’s tight ends and S-backs in 2018. Blackmon also coached the Trojan running backs in 2019 and then in 2020 worked exclusively with special teams. He joined the Troy staff following one season as an offensive analyst under Malzahn at Auburn after a 21-year career at Opelika High School.

 

In 2020, Troy finished 19th in punt-return defense (2.91 yards each), led the Sun Belt Conference (ranking 28th nationally) in net punting at 40.63 and blocked three kicks. Punter Jack Martin was a first-team All-Sun Belt pick as he led the country with his 45.8 net punting average while his 46.1 per-punt average was sixth nationally. Martin allowed just four returns on his punts for a total of seven yards, while having no touchbacks and 52 percent fair catches.

 

In one season coaching the running backs in 2019 Blackmon was dealt one of the most difficult hands in the country as Troy lost Sun Belt Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year B.J. Smith and two other running backs in week two to injury. He mentored Smith’s replacement, DK Billingsley, toward a season where he rushed for 901 yards and 10 touchdowns.

 

Troy was once again one of the top special teams units in the country in 2019, ranking 17th in opponent kickoff return yards limiting returns to just a 17.85-yard average. Troy was successful in all phases in which Blackmon had a hand in during his initial season with the Trojans. He played a vital role in Troy’s special teams units, and the Trojans finished the season ranked number one in the country according to ESPN’s special teams efficiency rating.

 

Blackmon also assisted with the Trojan special teams in 2018 as Troy finished fourth nationally in net punting. Tyler Sumpter set the school record by averaging 45.1 yards per punt (11th nationally), and the Trojans were ninth in the country averaging 25.0 yards per kickoff return. Sumpter finished one field goal shy of setting the school record with 18 makes on the year, and the Trojans were one of just 24 teams nationally to not allow a blocked kick.

 

Blackmon’s first season at Troy in 2018 resulted in a 10-3 overall record, a victory at Nebraska and the Trojans’ third straight bowl victory (42-32 over Buffalo in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile). Smith turned in the fourth-best rushing season in school history with 1,186 yards (second in the Sun Belt) behind the blocking of Troy’s tight ends and S-backs.

 

In Blackmon’s lone season with the Tigers and Malzahn, Auburn’s offense ranked in the top 30 nationally in total offense, rushing, pass efficiency and scoring as the Tigers won the Southeastern Conference West Division and played in the SEC Championship Game. Running back Kerryon Johnson was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and Auburn finished the season with a Peach Bowl appearance against UCF after knocking off a pair of No. 1 teams– Georgia and Alabama–over the regular season’s final three weeks.

 

Blackmon served as head coach of the Opelika football program in his final eight seasons (2009-16) at the school, while also serving as the athletics director during the same time period before leaving for Auburn in February 2017.

Opelika advanced to a pair of Alabama 6A state championship games (2012 and 2016), and the Bulldogs compiled a 69-25 record during Blackmon’s tenure. He was honored as the 6A Coach of the Year in 2012 by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, the Alabama Football Coaches Association, the Opelika-Auburn News, Columbus SportsVision and AL.com.

 

The Bulldogs won three consecutive region championships and advanced to the playoffs in seven of his eight seasons as head coach. Blackmon left Opelika as the third-winningest coach in the then-99-year history of the high school.

He has served as president of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association and on the advisory, Hall of Fame, reclassification and all-star selection committees of the Alabama High School Athletic Association. Additionally, he served on the high school task force of USA Football and as a district board member of the Alabama Football Coaches Association.

 

Blackmon spent his first 13 years at Opelika as the offensive coordinator under legendary head coach Spence McCracken. He also served as assistant athletics director from 2001-08 and coached the soccer, wrestling and golf teams during his career at Opelika. He was named the Alabama Assistant Coach of the Year following the 2004 season and was a consistent figure on the coaching staffs of the Alabama-Mississippi and North-South all-star games.

 

A graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, Alabama, Blackmon was part of the 1991 state champion football team and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2017. Blackmon played one season at North Alabama before transferring to Troy to complete his studies.

 

Blackmon earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Troy in 1996 and a master’s degree in business education from Auburn in 1998. He and his wife Kellie have two children–Cade, a quarterback at Samford, and Carlyle.

Coaching Experience
1996-2008 Opelika (Alabama) High School Offensive Coordinator

2009-16 Opelika (Alabama) High School Head Coach

2017 Auburn Offensive Analyst
2018 Troy Tight Ends/S-Backs

2019 Troy Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator
2020 Troy Special Teams Coordinator

2021 UCF Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends

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College Football

2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl: LSU Routs Purdue University 62-7

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LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers (#8) runs the ball against the Purdue University Boilermakers during the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium Monday, January 2, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.
LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers (#8) runs the ball against the Purdue University Boilermakers during the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium Monday, January 2, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – The LSU Tigers faced the Purdue University Boilermakers in the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium Monday. The Tigers made their sixth Citrus Bowl appearance, last appearing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl back in 2018 and LSU’s current coach, Brian Kelly, was ironically the head coach of the opposing team that year, Notre Dame. Needless to say LSU came into Monday’s game with considerable experience.

For Purdue’s part, their team is still working on gelling together with new head coach Brian Brohm, who admitted during the head coaches press conference Sunday that “everything is still in flux” for his team with his brother Jeff Brohm, who had coached for six seasons, leaving to coach the Louisville Cardinals.

The quick version: The LSU Tigers absolutely devoured the Purdue Boilermakers in Monday’s Citrus Bowl match. The Purdue defense was nearly non-existent in the first half, allowing a whopping 35 points before halftime. 35 points.

Want to see the carnage unfold in detail? Keep reading.

 

First Half

Halfway through the first quarter (7:01) LSU got on the board with a touchdown with running back John Emery Jr.’s one-yard scramble into the end zone.

With 1:06 left in the first quarter, LSU scored again with running back Noah Cain rushing the ball nine yards, making the score 14-0.

With 1:01 left in the first, on Purdue’s next possession, wide receiver Ben Van Noord fumbled the ball, which LSU safety Major Burns recovered, giving LSU the ball again–in the same spot just 20 yards away from the end zone. However, after review, the call was overturned, giving Purdue the ball back.

The Boilermakers remained scoreless, however.

LSU’s carnage continued in the second quarter. The Tiger scored their third touchdown early in the quarter (13:03) with Daniels’s 32-yard pass to tight end Mason Taylor, creating a point canyon for Purdue to have to cross, 21-0.

With 8:32, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels chose to keep the ball and nearly broke away for the touchdown rush, but was tackled

Cain finished the job for LSU, rushing in the final nine yards for the touchdown, 28-0 after the extra point.

Halfway through the second quarter, on Purdue’s possession, they were set up to punt, but instead successfully made the fourth down conversion with a first down.

With 3:11 left in the second quarter, LSU devastated Purdue. Purdue quarterback Austin Burton’s end zone pass intended for Paul Piferi got intercepted by LSU’s Camdyn Childers. LSU then made good on the pick and got their fifth touchdown in five plays for 87 yards, blowing out the score to 35-0 with 1:07 left in the first half. By the 0:14 mark, after both teams used a time out, both teams let the clock run out and headed to the locker room. The official halftime score: 35-0.

In the first half, LSU clocked 249 passing yards to Purdue’s 73 and 115 rushing yards to Purdue’s 15. LSU was five of seven on third down conversions compared to Purdue’s three of nine. LSU’s defense sacked Purdue’s quarterbacks three times for a total loss of 21 yards and made six Purdue tackles for a total loss of 28 yards.

Purdue quarterback Austin Burton was 11 of 21 on passes for 73 total yards in the first half. Running back Devin Mockabee led Purdue in rushing with eight for a total of 73 yards.

 

Second Half

LSU showed no signs of stopping in the third quarter. On LSU’s possession, Purdue’s defense broke up a touchdown pass on the first down. However, LSU made up for it on second down with wide receiver Malik Nabers’ five-yard pass to Jayden Daniels, making the score 42-0.

At 9:17 in the third, LSU safety Greg Brooks, Jr. intercepted Purdue quarterback Michael Alaimo’s attempted touchdown pass, after which LSU players ran to the sideline to celebrate with Cheez-It mascot Ched Z and jumped on the Cheez-It bed set. As expected, they earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Interestingly, so did head coach Brian Kelly a few seconds later.

Ironically, with 5:23 left in the third, Purdue finally fed LSU a taste of their own medicine. LSU quarterback Garrett Nussmeier’s attempted touchdown pass intended for wide receiver Kyren Lacy was intercepted by Purdue cornerback Jamari Brown.

Purdue didn’t capitalize on their next possession, though, and as soon as LSU got the ball back, Nussmeier passed to Nabers, who ran the ball 75 yards for LSU’s seventh touchdown, making the score 49-0.

Purdue finally hammered their way to a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter with an eight-play scoring drive for 75 yards, making the score 49-7. Alaimo made the successful 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver TJ Sheffield.

With 8:47 left in the game, LSU answered Purdue with another touchdown. Safety Derrick Davis Jr. ran the ball 12 yards to the endzone for the 56-7 score.

At 6:01 in the fourth, Purdue wide receiver Deion Burks was running to catch a pass when LSU safety Sage Ryan, attempting to break up the pass, fell on him, causing Burks to get injured. the clock stopped.

While scoring stalled for most of the fourth, LSU managed one last major stinger. LSU safety Quad Wilson intercepted Purdue’s punt return and ran it all the way across to the other end zone–99 yards–for LSU’s ninth touchdown. The extra point attempt failed, but LSU was able to secure their 10th season win as the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl Champions with a 62-7 final score.

 

2023 Cheez-It Bowl Postgame Press Conference

Purdue head coach Brian Brohm, and wide receivers TJ Sheffield and Elijah Canion as well as LSU head coach Brian Kelly, wide receiver Malik Nabers and cornerback Jarrick Converse spoke with the media.

 

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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VIDEO: 2022 Cheez-It Bowl Postgame Press Conference

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Florida State Seminoles football head coach Mike Norvell (right) holds the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl trophy after the Seminoles defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 35-32 at Camping World Stadium Thursday, December 29, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.
Florida State Seminoles football head coach Mike Norvell (right) holds the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl trophy after the Seminoles defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 35-32 at Camping World Stadium Thursday, December 29, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The head coaches from Oklahoma Sooners and Florida State Seminoles, as well as both quarterbacks and players from both teams talk with the press after FSU’s 35-32 victory over Oklahoma during the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium.

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2022 Cheez-It Bowl: FSU Secures 25th 10-Win Season with 35-32 Win Over Oklahoma

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Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis dodges the Oklahoma Sooners defense as he searches for a pass target during the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl Camping World Stadium Thursday, December 29, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – The Florida State Seminoles entered Thursday’s Cheez-It Bowl hungry for a win to make this another 10-win season for the university, which hasn’t happened since 2016.

 

First Half

At just 11:26 in the first quarter, FSU got on the board first with a 23-yard field goal, making the score 3-0.

Oklahoma quarterback and former UCF Knight Dillon Gabriel answered back with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jalil Farooq, giving Oklahoma a 7-3 lead with 7:01 left in the first.

On their next drive, FSU attempted a fourth down conversion, but Oklahoma’s defense prevented it, allowing them to get the ball back.

At the start of the second quarter, Gabriel, seeing the defense crowding out any passing chances, scrambled and flipped over two Seminole players to land in the right corner of the end zone for Oklahoma’s second touchdown, quickly widening their lead to 14-3 after the successful extra point.

With 9:53 left in the first half, Oklahoma made a field goal attempt, but it failed.

With 7:24 left in the first half, FSU finally made their first touchdown with quarterback Jordan Travis’ 16-yard touchdown pass to Ontaria Wilson. Immediately following the touchdown, FSU successfully made a two-point conversion, shrinking Oklahoma’s lead to 14-11.

FSU defensive back Shyheim Brown was down, lingering on the field during the final timeout of the first half. With some help, he was able to walk off the field. To close out the first half, Oklahoma nailed a 41-yard field goal, making the score 17-11.

FSU tried to make a score on its next possession with 15 seconds left in the first half, but it didn’t quite happen. Travis rushed the ball himself 26 yards for a first down, and on the next play kicker Ryan Fitzgerald attempted a 45-yard field goal, but it fell just short of the goal post, cementing Oklahoma’s 17-11 lead at halftime.

Oklahoma’s offense was much more proactive in the first half, going five of nine on third down conversions compared to FSU’s one of six.

 

Second Half

FSU running back Treshaun Ward scrambled the ball one yard into the end zone for FSU’s next touchdown, snatching the lead by one point, 18-17.

With roughly a minute left in the third quarter, during FSU’s attempt to make good on a fourth down, Travis passed the ball directly into Oklahoma defensive back Billy Bowman’s hands, forcing what was already going to happen anyway: Oklahoma’s next possession.

The score remained 18-17 at the end of the third quarter.

Oklahoma changed that at the start of the fourth, with Sawchuk running the ball three yards for their next touchdown, followed by their own successful two-point conversion, propelling them far ahead again, 25-18.

On FSU’s next possession, Ward came through clutch again, rushing straight up the middle and breaking away from the crowd to freely rush 38 yards for their next touchdown, tying the score at 25.

At 9:41 in the fourth quarter, FSU’s Omarion Cooper forced Oklahoma’s Sawchuk to fumble the ball, which was recovered by FSU’s Jammie Robinson. The drive ended in Travis’ pass to Markeston Doulas for the touchdown. After the extra point, FSU led 31-25 with 7:22 left in the game.

Oklahoma was able to tie the game again with another touchdown.

FSU broke the tie on fourth down with Ryan Fitzgerald’s 32-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in the game.

The game ended with another sack on Dillon Gabriel, his seventh for the night.

FSU got their 25th 10-win season with Thursday night’s Cheez-It Bowl victory, 35-32.

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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