Less than a week after Phil Galiano left for a position with the New Orleans Saints, Penn State has its new special teams coordinator. James Franklin has brought veteran assistant Joe Lorig on board to oversee the unit.
Lorig spent the last three seasons as Memphis' special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. However, he left the Tigers after the 2018 season to take the special teams coordinator role with Texas Tech and new head coach Matt Wells.
His time in Tennessee saw the Tigers among the nation's best in several special teams categories.
- Top-five in FBS kick return average twice.
- Top-20 in FBS kick return defense all three years.
- No touchdown returns allowed all three years.
- Tony Pollard tied both a school and FBS record with seven career kickoff return touchdowns, including four in 2017 alone. Pollard earned AAC Special Teams Player of the Year honors in 2016 and 2017, and is among the FBS career leaders with a 30.1 yards per return average.
Special teams were of course a source of major trouble for the Nittany Lions under Galiano in 2018. In his first season after taking over for Charles Huff, Penn State's special teams struggled in virtually every area. The appointment of Lorig at least appears to echo Franklin's commitment to drastically upgrade the unit in the 2019 season.