New Penn State Football Offensive Coordinator Details Plans for 2021 Season, Future
With the Kirk Ciarrocca experiment in the rearview mirror, Penn State is electing to go back to the basics.
Mike Yurcich was named the Nittany Lions’ newest offensive coordinator in early January and spoke with the media Tuesday for the first time since coming to Happy Valley.
A season removed from averaging fewer than 30 points per game and finishing 54th in the nation in scoring, the blue and white’s offense hopes to see a tempo style restored with the addition of the former Oklahoma State and Texas offensive coordinator.
“Tempo has been something that’s really helped us as an offense,” Yurcich said. “The things that are good about tempo are you try to minimize the amount of communication that the defense can have in between snaps. You’re trying to exhaust them, and you’re trying to wear them out and get them huffing and puffing.”
While Yurcich has never worked with James Franklin, Penn State’s newest coach said he and the program’s leader see eye to eye on offensive philosophy. Yurcich said he and Franklin see a lot of things the “same way.”
The Nittany Lions’ offense was a curious case last year, as Penn State’s leading rusher Keyvone Lee finished with fewer than 500 yards, while quarterbacks Sean Clifford and Will Levis finished second and fourth, respectively, in rushing.
Being smarter, skilled and physical were three keys that Yurcich harped on when talking about Penn State’s offense in 2021. While he did not rule out using quarterback runs, it is clear the new offensive coordinator wants to find more of a balance between passing and running the football.
“The most important thing about an offense, or one of the most important things about an offense, is that you’re complimentary,” Yurcich said.
Despite Levis having entered the transfer portal, Yurcich did not comment on Clifford’s quarterback play and whether or not he will be the starter. He said he wants to approach the transition to coaching at a new school in a “non-judgmental” way.
Once he goes through spring practice with the quarterbacks and the rest of the offense, Yurcich said he would be able to give a better assessment of the assets he will have at his disposal in the fall.
Regardless of who is at the helm of Penn State’s offense in 2021, Yurcich wants his quarterback to complete around 70% of his passes.
“We’ve got to have a guy behind center that can make decisions and be accurate with the football,” Yurcich said. “We’ve won with all kinds of guys that can run it a little bit better than some, but the most important thing is we have to be able to throw it accurately.”
As Yurcich continues to get more adjusted to the Nittany Lions’ roster, he is confident that he has plenty of good players to work with. But acclimating himself to State College is not the only duty Yurcich has been tasked with.
Since arriving in town, Yurcich has been involved in daily meetings where he has familiarized himself with other staff members. Simultaneously, he’s begun recruiting players to come to Penn State.
But most importantly, Yurcich is gaining an understanding of what kind of offense he can run with the tempo he has in mind for the Nittany Lions this year.
“I think you have to do what your personnel can do,” Yurcich said. “You can’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole.”
Despite the craziness of adapting to a new job for a coach he has previously never worked alongside, Yurcich is excited about the new challenge that coaching at Penn State offers. With whatever personnel Yurcich ends up using in the upcoming season, the actions of limiting turnovers, scoring and making explosive plays are at the top of his priority list.
And as he continues getting settled into his third offensive coordinator job after two stints in the Big 12, Yurcich will bring a level of enthusiasm to coaching at Penn State on par with Franklin and the rest of his staff.
“If this is what you love to do, it hasn’t been one day at work yet,” Yurcich said. “It’s been fun.”
Andrew Destin is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism