A year ago, Penn State was touted as a Devy Paradise. Fast forward 17 months from that initial thought, and the Penn State offense is in ruins. They have all the pieces to be successful and score points, yet they proved they can’t.
James Franklin knew that something had to change after falling to 2-16 in his career against Ohio State and Michigan. That change came with the firing of offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. The former Ohio State assistant turned Nittany Lion was a highly sought-after assistant just two years ago. Now, Yurcich will be looking for a fresh start of his own.
Offensive Coordinator’s at Penn State under James Franklin:— College Football Report (@CFBRep) November 12, 2023
2014-15: John Donovan (Fired)
2016-17: Joe Moorhead (Hired by Miss St)
2018-19: Ricky Rahne (Hired by Old Dom)
2020: Kirk Ciarrocca (Fired)
2021-23: Mike Yurcich (Fired)
In 10 seasons, Franklin has had 5 OC’s. 3 fired. pic.twitter.com/O9ETJeB0Ne
The Nittany Lions scored a total of 27 points against those two teams. They have shown up in the games they are supposed to win, but when they faced the top tier of the Big Ten, they crumbled. Quarterback Drew Allar and running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen aren’t going anywhere for now.
They remain top devy assets, but they need further development. The 2025 quarterback class is dying for someone to emerge. Allar can do that. The running back group is loaded next year but easily has either Singleton or Allen as the top guy. Their progression will depend on who James Frankin hires to be his new playcaller.
Franklin has shown in his coaching hirings he looks for one of two things: Penn State ties or a coach looking for redemption. Using those metrics, here are five coaches who could further the development of the Penn State offense.
Bobby Engram, Washington Commanders Wide Receivers Coach
Bobby Engram should sound familiar to older, sorry, dynasty, and fantasy players. The former Seattle Seahawk is also a former Nittany Lion who carved out quite the career at Happy Valley. Engram was a three-time All-American and earned a Biletnikoff Award in the process. Outside of those accomplishments, he has coached some of the best receivers in the NFL in a coaching career that started in 2011. He also has experience running a complete offense, as he was the Wisconsin offensive coordinator in 2022. His running this Penn State offense with its young receiving corp and offense could generate favorable results.
Joe Brady, Buffalo Bills Quarterbacks Coach
The 2021 LSU Tigers had the best offense in college football history. Talent stacked top to bottom, Joe Burrow evolved as a passer into a number one overall pick and a coaching staff picked over for jobs. One of those coaches who saw himself getting a new job was passing game coordinator Joe Brady. This Penn State offense has a quarterback with a similar skillset to Burrow in Drew Allar; he just hasn’t been used correctly. Brady has shown he can get a lot out of his quarterback pupils, first Burrow and now Josh Allen in Buffalo, so give him a chance with Allar.
Billy Fessler, Akron Zips Offensive Coordinator
The Penn State offense needs a fresh start that has been established. What hasn’t been established is this next candidate, who is unknown for now but has Penn State ties and some recognition. Billy Fessler was named by 247 Sports as one of their top 30-under-30 coaching stars back in 2021. Since then, he has become the Akron Zips offensive coordinator, and while being in Akron is no one’s idea of a good time, he has shown he can coach up quarterback talent.
Before coming to Akron, he was settled in Columbus, where he was an offensive assistant with Ohio State and coached up Justin Fields and CJ Stroud. He is definitely a dark horse candidate but could be a young spark worth giving a chance with this Penn State offense.
Joe Moorhead, Akron Zips Head Coach
Joe Moorhead is stuck in a poor situation as the Akron Zips head coach. The former Mississippi State coach and Penn State play caller can run an offense at a bigger program. At Penn State, previously, in two years with the program, he coached Trace McSorley into an offensive weapon. Moorhead also coached Miles Sanders, KJ Hamler, and Saquon Barkley and helped that offense reach The Rose Bowl. This current Penn State offense with the running back duo they have now could be a lot of fun, with Moorhead drawing things up.
Sean Lewis, Colorado Buffalo Offensive Coordinator
It has been a year for Sean Lewis at Colorado, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. The Buffalo offense was soaring the first couple of weeks, and after hitting a couple of snags, his play-calling duties were removed. Since the offense hasn’t been the same, Coach Deion Sanders demoted Lewis in every way, minus the title. Before Colorado, Lewis orchestrated one of the most surprisingly efficient offenses in the country with the Kent State Golden Flashes.
That offense saw several key players transfer after his departure, including wide receiver Dante Cephas. The former Golden Flash is at Penn State and could give James Franklin the inside info he needs. Going to State College to show he can run an offense again could be a match made in heaven for all parties involved in the Penn State offense.
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