After another rough offensive performance in a big game, Penn State is making a change to its coaching staff.
PSU head coach James Franklin announced Sunday that he fired offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, who was in his third season in the role. The move comes a day after PSU lost 24-15 at home to Michigan and put up just 238 yards of offense, 75 of which came in a final-minute scoring drive when the outcome was already decided.
With Yurcich out of the picture, running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider and tight ends coach Ty Howle will share interim offensive coordinator duties for the remainder of the season.
“We thank Mike for his contributions over the last three years but feel it is in our program’s best interest to make a change at this time. We wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future,” Franklin said.
Penn State entered the season with Big Ten title and College Football Playoff aspirations but fell to 8-2 following Saturday’s loss. The Nittany Lions went 6-0 to start the season but lost to Ohio State on the road, 20-12, on Oct. 21. Like the Michigan game, the PSU defense was excellent but the offense could not get anything going as it finished the day with 240 yards and went a miserable 1-for-16 on third down.
Penn State has one of the best defenses in the country, but it has been held back by these offensive shortcomings. And these woes on offense have not been limited to big games. Penn State ranks No. 102 nationally in yards per play (5.12) and No. 130 out of 133 FBS teams in plays of 20-plus yards with only 25 of them.
The offense was expected to improve with highly touted sophomore Drew Allar taking the reins at quarterback, but he has had an up-and-down season. Allar has thrown for 1,965 yards with 21 touchdowns and only one interception, but he’s completing only 61.6% of his throws while averaging 6.3 yards per attempt.
Penn State has a mediocre wide receiver corps, but has a solid offensive line and plenty of talent at running back and tight end. Despite that, the PSU coaching staff has struggled to find ways to get them the ball in advantageous positions. There haven’t been many easy throws for Allar either, particularly in the Ohio State and Michigan games.
Penn State has won a lot of games during Franklin’s 10 years in charge, including winning the Big Ten in 2016. But the Nittany Lions have routinely come up short vs. Ohio State and Michigan, their biggest competition in the conference. Over the past three seasons, Penn State is 0-6 vs. Ohio State and Michigan and 4-16 overall during Franklin’s tenure.
Now out of the national championship and Big Ten title conversations, Penn State will return to the field Saturday at home vs. Rutgers before closing out the season Friday, Nov. 24 vs. Michigan State in Detroit.