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Kirk Herbstreit highlights top coaching performances of Week 1

Article written by:On3 imageJames Fletcher III


On3 image
Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit watches the action across the country each week before releasing a list of the most impressive coaching performances he saw. Whether delivering on a gutsy call or preparing a team well enough to pull off a big win, the group listed always features some of the brightest minds in the sport.

The big theme in the first version of Kirk Herbstreit’s list of top coaching performances was an impressive debut. Of the six mentioned, four led their team onto the field for the first time this weekend. Among them, the No. 1 spot went to new Florida head coach Billy Napier after his historic debut moved the Gators into the Top 25 after just one game.

The only conference to place two coaches on the list is the SEC, which saw Billy Napier joined by defending national champion Kirby Smart. Duke’s Mike Elko and Washington’s Kalen DeBoer also got wins in their debut to make the list and were joined by the only assistant on the list – Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. Rounding out the list, Old Dominion’s Ricky Rahne gets plenty of praise for the biggest upset of the weekend over Virginia Tech.

Kirk Herbstreit’s top coaching performances in Week 1

1. Billy Napier, Florida

Starting the Billy Napier era with a 29-26 win over Utah did plenty of good for the team moving forward in the eyes of fans and analysts alike. After knocking off a top-10 opponent as an unranked team, the new head coach has plenty of supporters singing his praise.

2. Kirby Smart, Georgia

The 49-3 win put away any doubts that Georgia had the amount of returning talent needed to compete for another national championship. It also put away and doubt – not that there was any – that Kirby Smart has every tool in his bag to keep his team focused forward and not backward.

3. Jim Knowles, Ohio State (Defensive Coordinator)

As the only assistant on the list, Jim Knowles’ new-look Ohio State defense lived up to the hype by holding Notre Dame to 10 points, all scored in the first half. The good start only builds confidence he can deliver on the expectation to make the defense a national championship caliber unit.

4. Mike Elko, Duke

After working under Jimbo Fisher, Mike Elko took the Duke job and looked to build his own program this offseason. Early returns look good after 30-0 win over Temple which showcased good performances on offense and defense.

5. Kalen DeBoer, Washington

Kalen DeBoer made the move from Fresno State to Washington and attempted to put things back on the rails after a disastrous fall over recent seasons. The 45-20 win over Kent State offered optimism as a good start from a lot of new players built confidence early.

6. Ricky, Rahne, Old Dominion

The 20-17 win over in-state rival Virginia Tech on Friday night drew widespread attention in the world of college football. Despite facing a much larger Power Five school, the gameplan allowed Old Dominion to compete from start to finish and come away with the home win before fans stormed the field.