Penn State rocked the college football world on Friday by firing Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator after just one season, and bringing in Mike Yurcich.
Was it the right move? Time will tell. Yurcich will almost assuredly end up being a head coach somewhere in the next few years, whereas Ciarrocca was more or less content to stay as an OC. Some stability might have been nice at the position, for once.
That being said, Rock’s offense was noooooot great this year, particularly in the first 5 games. The defense didn’t help, but they were routinely put in big holes by the offense’s ineptitude and turnovers. Could Kirk have turned things around for the Lions with another season or two at the helm, and a handful of real off-seasons to fully install his offense? Maybe. You’d have to think it would get better than what we saw in 2019, at least.
But it’s water over the bridge or under the dam, whichever idiom you prefer.
It’s Yurcich Time™.
So what now?
Well, first and foremost, the offensive players are going to have to learn yet another system. COVID-19 is still very much real, so we’re looking at ZOOM meetings and such, at least for now. Some nice light reading for the players, remote quizzes, you name it. If it matters much, Yurcich was able to get his offense more or less installed at Texas just last off-season, under the same pandemic restrictions, without nearly as many issues as Ciarrocca had.
Ideally, we’ll see some more in-person instruction, as the vaccine continues to roll out. Having some spring practice would be nice, but I won’t hold my breath on it.
Beyond the playbook, what about the personnel?
I think tight end, running back, and wide receiver are fine. Maybe take a glance in the portal for a bigger body to go with the more diminutive Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington, but overall, the skill players should be good to go. There’s some turnover on the offensive line, but overall I think the skilled depth of 2020 should bode well for 2021.
Quarterback is the question.
Is Sean Clifford the answer? He struggled in 2020, and some of his issues seem to be regressing with time. Reads, footwork, etc. are all mental, and perhaps a symptom of changing schemes so frequently. Is another change going to help him?
For what it’s worth, Clifford does appear to be the best quarterback currently on the roster. While Rock’s system wasn’t particularly glamorous or sexy, Yurcich’s system, well, is.
There will be a post later on some of the statistical breakdowns of Yurcich’s offense, but let’s just say, it has the potential to be gaudy. Are there quarterbacks out there in the transfer portal that might now consider Penn State, and the chance to put up Heisman-level numbers? We shall see, but I think the chances of Penn State looking for - and landing - a potential star quarterback just went up considerably.
We shall see how things unfold between now and August, but it should be exciting for Penn State fans, at a minimum.