Penn State Football: Who is Mike Yurcich? | 3 things to know about new offensive coordinator

Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) talks with head coach James Franklin (Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports)
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) talks with head coach James Franklin (Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Penn State Football made a major coaching change Friday, when head coach James Franklin announced Mike Yurcich would replace Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

Penn State Football will have its third offensive coordinator in as many seasons when the 2021 season kicks off in September, after head coach James Franklin announced Friday that Mike Yurcich would replace Kirk Ciarrocca, effective immediately.

Yurcich, 45, joins the Nittany Lions after one season as Tom Herman’s offensive coordinator/quarterback’s coach at the University of Texas.

"“We are excited to have Mike join our staff,” Franklin said in a statement. “He is an impressive offensive mind and talented play caller who has set records everywhere he has been as an offensive coordinator. I look forward to seeing what he can do with all of the offensive weapons we have here at Penn State. I have followed Mike’s career for a long time, dating back to his time in the PSAC at Shippensburg and Edinboro. We look forward to bringing Mike and his family back to Pennsylvania.”"

Penn State moves on from Ciarrocca after just one season, which ranks among the most disappointing offensive performances in program history.

The Nittany Lions averaged just 256 passing yards per game and 430 total yards, en route to a 4-5 season that began with an 0-5 start.

Moving on so quickly from Ciarrocca underscores a sense of urgency that seems to be permeating through the program this offseason, starting with Franklin.

So, what is Penn State getting in Yurcich? Here’s a look at three things to know about the Nittany Lions’ new offensive playcaller:

A high-powered scheme

Granted, the Longhorns play in the largely defense-deprived Big XII Conference, but there’s no denying Yurcich’s output.

Last season, Texas averaged 475.4 yards from scrimmage per game and scored 52 offensive touchdowns in 10 weeks.

Meanwhile, Texas senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 2,566 yards with 26 touchdowns and five interceptions. Penn State clearly was disappointed that Ciarrocca’s scheme led to a regression in quarterback Sean Clifford in 2020, as the sophomore struggled mightily, especially early in the season, while completing 60.6 percent of his passes for 1,883 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

No FBS offense averaged more Yards per Play last season than Yurcich’s 6.49. Meanwhile, in the storied tradition of Texas Football, Yurcich’s 42.7 points per game last season were the second-most in program history.

If Yurcich can fix what ailed Clifford, particularly in the vertical game, and can get the most out of deep-threat receivers Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington, perhaps the Nittany Lions will rebound from last season’s disappointment.