Meet Mike Yurcich, Penn State's New Offensive Coordinator

Mike Yurcich brings what players and fellow coaches call a "quarterback friendly" system to Penn State. Learn more about the Lions' new OC.
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Penn State coach James Franklin announced a coaching change Friday, replacing offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca with Mike Yurcich.

Yurcich comes to Penn State from Texas, where he spent a year as the offensive coordinator, and Ohio State and Oklahoma State before that. He will be the first member of Penn State's coaching staff with experience in the College Football Playoff, having been part of Ohio State's 2019 appearance.

What else to know about Yurcich? Let's get started.

Yurcich's offenses score points

Texas ranked second in the Big 12, and eighth nationally, averaging 42.7 points per game this past season. Yurcich's Oklahoma State offenses averaged 38 per game, peaking in 2017 (45 ppg, 4th in the nation).

Granted, those were against Big 12 defenses, but his offenses certainly kept pace. In addition, since 2013, Yurcich's offenses have scored 40 or more points in 51 games, half of those in which he has coached.

He has mentored a variety of successful quarterbacks

Yurcich coached Texas' Sam Ehlinger to All-Big 12 honors last season, Ohio State's Justin Fields to a Heisman Trophy finalist campaign in 2019 and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph to a pair of 4,000-yard passing seasons. In 2017, Rudolph led the nation in passing yards per game (377.2).

In 2019, Fields ranked 11th nationally in completion percentage (67.2) with a touchdown/interception ratio of 41-3.

Quarterbacks seem to thrive in Yurcich's system, one that supports them with quick reads and throws, high tempo and targeted downfield strikes. Last season, Ehlinger averaged 10 pass plays per game of 10+ yards.

Yurcich's quarterback successes stretch to his days in the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. At Shippensburg in 2012, Zach Zulli threw 54 touchdown passes and won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II.

Justin Fields called Yurcich's offense "quarterback friendly"

Fields had a huge season at Ohio State in 2019, fielding the nation's best touchdown/interception ratio, throwing for 3,273 yards and completing 67.2 percent of his passes. Fields also ranked third nationally in QB rating (181.43).

He credited, in part, Yurcich's command of his system and ability to teach it.

“I think Coach [Ryan] Day has taught me a lot and Yurcich has taught me a lot in terms of the game of football, where my feet need to be, where my eyes need to be," Fields said in October 2019, according to Lettermen Row. "So, I’m just doing all I can to learn and get better each and every day.

“What makes this offense [quarterback friendly] is the guys we have on the team and the coaches we have behind the scheme. I think we have a lot of weapons on the outside, a great offensive line, great backs and some great offensive-minded coaches. All those guys work hard, and I think we work well together.”

He can recruit quarterbacks, too

Like Fields, Day called Ohio State's offense with Yurcich "quarterback friendly" and said his then-passing game coordinator was instrumental in recruiting two top-ranked passers in the 2020 class. The Buckeyes' class featured four-star quarterback CJ Stroud of California, who was listed as the No. 2 pro-style passer of 2020, according to 247Sports.

Yurcich also recruited quarterback Kyle McCord of Saint Joseph's Prep, who signed with Ohio State's 2021 class. McCord is the nation's No. 3 pro-style passer, according to 247Sports.

His philosophy of coaching quarterbacks

Here's what Yurcich said in February 2019, when he was introduced at Ohio State, about the way he coaches the position.

"For me as a quarterback coach, I have to try to learn how the quarterbacks learn the best, and everybody processes information a little bit differently," Yurcich said. "Everybody has a different mentality. Everybody has different emotions. And so for me, it's just a real great opportunity to take the time in this off-season to learn all those things about each individual. ... You're just trying to get to know everybody and develop those relationships. It takes a lot of time, and you can't just jump into a situation and pretend that you know everything about everybody. It takes a lot of time and investment."

His receivers thrive

At Oklahoma State, James Washington compiled huge numbers in Yurcich's offense, totaling 226 catches for 4,472 yards and 39 touchdowns in four years.

Washington had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons, peaking with 1,549 in 2017. He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver that season.

For Penn State's Jahan Dotson, who announced this week that he will return in 2021, that has to sound promising.

Yurcich has Pennsylvania roots

Franklin likes to sell this angle of his coaches. He did so with Ciarrocca, who was from Lewisberry and went to Temple, and again with Yurcich.

Prior to joining Oklahoma State's staff in 2013, Yurcich spent eight seasons coaching at Edinboro and Shippensburg. He also played quarterback at California (Pa.).

"I have followed Mike's career for a long time, dating back to his time in the PSAC at Shippensburg and Edinboro," Franklin said in his announcement. "We look forward to bringing Mike and his family back to Pennsylvania."

How much does that matter? In terms of public perception, maybe a little. It helps more that Yurcich succeeded at some big-brand programs and developed regional recruiting relationships at them as well.

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