Yurcich’s offense has been a massive disappointment
What is the most disappointing aspect of the Lions’ season?
I can make a strong case that offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich should be fired after this season.
You don’t even really have to make a case, in all honesty. Penn State’s offense has been a massive disappointment, and I’ll pin most of it on Yurcich.
Just to be clear, Yurcich will NOT be fired. There’s zero chance of that, actually, and it’s not necessarily because of his coaching.
It’s because of his recruiting.
Prized prospect and Penn State commit Drew Allar, the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation, is a Yurcich guy. They’ve been linked for a few years.
If Yurcich gets fired, Penn State probably loses Allar. That just can’t happen.
So, Yurcich will be back next season, as long as James Franklin is back, which obviously is a different question.
Let’s go back in time a bit, to when Franklin fired Kirk Ciarrocca after last season. The Nittany Lions ranked 37th in the nation in total offense (430.3 yards per game) under Ciarrocca, and that wasn’t good enough for Franklin.
This year under Yurcich, the Lions rank a woeful 85th (378.9) in the nation. And that’s with the team being able to go through spring drills and summer ball, things that Ciarrocca did not get to have last season because of COVID.
Yurcich brought with him a tremendous offensive resume. We haven’t seen it materialize on the field this season. Not even close.
The primary issue is the running game. Penn State has been absolutely horrible on the ground, ranking 119th out of 130 teams in the country at 106.7 yards per game.
This is the second-worst rushing season Penn State has ever had, which is mind boggling. The worst season ever on the ground for PSU was 2014, when the Lions averaged 101.9 yards.
What seems clear to me at this stage is that Yurcich brought a Big 12 offense to the Big Ten, and it’s just not working. It’s a finesse offense designed to take a bunch of shots down the field, but when that doesn’t work, there’ just no plan B.
In the Big Ten, running the ball must be either plan A, plan B, plan C or something. Because if you can’t line up and impose your will on the other team in this league, you don’t stand much of a chance.
Yurcich isn’t going anywhere, once again, because of the Allar connection. But the offensive coordinator is going to have to make massive changes to his system going forward if it’s going to work in the Big Ten.
What we’ve seen so far not only hasn’t been good enough, it’s been so poor that we need to wonder if Franklin made a big mistake firing Ciarrocca and bringing in Yurcich.
Cory Giger is a Penn State beat writer for DK Pittsburgh Sports and host of “Sports Central” weekday afternoons from 4-5 on WRTA. Contact him at email@example.com.