Breaking Down New Penn State Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich's Offense

By Matthew Filipovits on January 11, 2021 at 9:06 am
Dec 19, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) warms up prior to the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
© Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Yurcich is coming to Happy Valley, and he will be bringing one of the most explosive offenses in college football with him. Last season with Texas, Yurcich's offense averaged over five touchdowns and 475 yards per game, while running some intricate and fun stuff. Let's take a look at some of the looks Penn State's new play-caller will be bringing to Happy Valley.

Designed passes

This is the levels concept at its finest. One receiver runs a go as a decoy to take a safety out of the play, while others run out routes at five and ten yards. This leaves the tight end, running a deep route, in a mismatch with the safety. Ehlinger puts it right on the money. Yurcich loves to scheme to space and this is a clinic on how to do just that.

The motion man comes out of the stack and runs a wheel, with the receivers already lined up at the bottom of your screen running overlapping routes. The running back flares out, putting the safety in a bind, and Ehlinger finds the cushion and drops a dime. The best part of this play? The fact that the quarterback could have dumped it off to the back and still picked up the first. 

Yurcich gets a one-on-one situation by sending three receivers on intermediate to deep routes. Two of them break at about 20 yards downfield, bringing the safeties with them and putting the corner at a disadvantage. Ehlinger throws it up for his 6'2 receiver, a matchup the wideout should win every time.

Option plays

Sean Clifford has run the option pretty well over his career, but he's rarely done a midline screen. The offensive line does a great job clearing a lane for the quarterback if he keeps it, but Ehlinger makes a great read on the defensive tackle and gives up the rock. Some good downfield blocking by the receivers and tight end leads to an easy 10 yard gain. 

Again, Yurcich brings a man in motion which opens a bit more space on that side of the field. Ehlinger makes a good read on the unblocked end and the offensive line does the rest. 

A good, old-fashioned RPO. Jahan Dotson thrived on this last season, so it's good to see that will be sticking around. 

Red Zone

Penn State was just awful in the red zone last season, finding the end zone on just 19 of their 37 trips. Texas, on the other hand, punched it in on 37 of their 56 attempts. Lets' see what Mike Yurcich has in his bag of tricks when inside the 20.

The two wide receivers and tight end at the top of the screen all run crossing routes, bringing a cornerback and a few linebackers with them. The safety responsible for the running back rolls with him to prevent the wheel, allowing the receiver lined up at the bottom of the screen to run his own crossing route into some open space and right into the end zone. These are the kind of plays that put defensive backs in no-win situations.

For all it's faults, the Levis package worked more often than it didn't. While I don't think we'll see it as often under Yurcich, it will have a place in the red zone. This is exactly the kind of play Levis can do a lot of damage on.

Having already given up a touchdown on a quarterback draw in the red zone, the Oklahoma defense sells out and completely forgets to cover the running back in the flat. It leads to an easy pitch and catch at a key juncture in the Longhorn's biggest game of the year.

While this is a just small glimpse into the Yurcich offense, it shows two of his biggest offensive philosophies: scheme to space and confuse defensive backs as much as possible. We're still months away from seeing this thing in action, but fans have a lot to be excited about. 

View 8 Comments