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Penn State fires Red Land grad Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator, hires Mike Yurcich

JOE JULIANO
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Coach James Franklin announced Kirk Ciarrocca, a 1983 Red Land High School from Lewsiberry, has joined the staff as the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Mike Yurcich

Penn State head coach James Franklin announced a change in offensive coordinators Friday with the firing of Red Land High School graduate Kirk Ciarrocca after one season and the hiring of Mike Yurcich.

"First, I would like to thank Kirk for his contributions to our program last year," Franklin said in a statement. "This was a difficult decision but felt it was best for our program to make a change. We wish him and his family all the best in their future endeavors."

Franklin hired Ciarrocca during Cotton Bowl week last season away from Minnesota where, in his third year as offensive coordinator, he helped lead the Golden Gophers to their first 10-win season since 1905. One of those wins came over Penn State where quarterback Tanner Morgan went 18 of 20 for 339 yards and three touchdowns.

However, with the pandemic causing the cancellation of spring practice and early summer workouts, Ciarrocca had to work primarily through Zoom and Facetime calls with quarterback Sean Clifford and the offense. The Nittany Lions started 0-5 and struggled with turnovers and scoring in the red zone.

The Lions scored touchdowns on just over half of their red zone trips (19 of 37) and committed 17 turnovers. Their scoring average of 29.8 points per game were six points lower than the year before, and they reached the 30-point mark in regulation only twice, in the season's last two games.

Yurcich spent the past season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas. He has 22 years of college coaching experience, 15 as an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, Shippensburg and Edinboro. He also will be Penn State's quarterbacks coach.

"We are excited to have Mike join our staff," Franklin said. "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."

During Yurcich's season at Texas, the Longhorns ranked eighth in FBS in scoring offense at 42.7 points per game, a total that ranked second in program history, and 19th in total offense at 475.4 yards per game. They were 27th in passing offense at 280.1 yards per game, with nine players catching at least 10 passes and 12 different players with a touchdown reception.

Texas finished the season 7-3 but fired head coach Tom Herman last Saturday.

"Having spent 11 years in the state of Pennsylvania as a player and coach, I understand the significance of this duty and will represent properly and with humble pride," Yurcich said in the statement.

Yurcich worked in 2019 as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State. Prior to that, he spent six years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oklahoma State, two seasons as Shippensburg and six seasons at Edinboro.