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‘Not Satisfied With It’: Penn State OC Mike Yurcich Wants More Explosive Plays

Photo by Matt Lynch, Nittany Sports Now: Mike Yurcich

Penn State football has an embarrassment of riches.

The team is 5-0 to start the 2023 season.

All five of those wins have been by double digits, and no game has been decided by closer than 17 points.

This run is even more dominant going back to last season. Penn State won its last five games, and again, all five of those wins were by double digits. So Penn State’s has 10 straight wins by 10 or more points, and coordinator Mike Yurcich’s offense has had a lot to do with that.

Penn State’s scored 30 or more points in 12 straight games, a feat unmatched by any other Division I school.

This year, Penn State’s averaging 40.6 points per game, breaking 40 twice and scoring as many as 63.

But for many Penn State fans, there’s something missing: Where are the explosive plays?

Penn State ended the 2022 season with a 35-21 win over Utah in the Rose Bowl. The two most memorable plays of that win were an 87-yard run by Nicholas Singleton (third-longest in Rose Bowl history) and an 88-yard pass from Sean Clifford to KeAndre Lambert-Smith (longest in Rose Bowl history).

Lambert-Smith caught Penn State’s last touchdown pass of the 2022 season and its first of the 2023 campaign, and it was another deep one: a 72-yarder from Drew Allar in Week 1 against West Virginia under the Beaver Stadium lights.

But that’s been about the extent of Penn State’s long touchdowns so far in 2023.

Since then, the team’s scored 24 offensive touchdowns, and only two have been 25 yards or more. Here are the lengths of the other 22.

Two yards

Twelve yards

Five yards

Two yards

Four yards

Five yards

Five yards

Two yards

One yard

Six yards

Four yards

Eleven yards

Sixteen yards

Nine yards

Two yards

Seven yards

Three yards

Thirteen yards

One yard

Two yards

One yard

Furthermore, only one Division I team has fewer gains of 20+ yards.

During Yurcich’s Zoom call with reporters early Tuesday afternoon, Audrey Snyder of the athletic asked him about the explosive play element of the offense.

Yurcich isn’t satisfied.

“We have to continue to improve,” Yurcich said. “And the areas that we need to improve the most are  more explosive plays, and we know that. At the same time, we’re doing some good things, and our offense has to understand that we’re doing a lot of difficult things well.”

What are some of those difficult things?

“Putting long drives together,” Yurcich said, “keeping the defense off the field, which helps them play better. We’re playing team offense, but we need to improve in certain areas, and the sexiness, we do understand there is an area for that, but we have to keep very important things important.”

Penn State has the bye week to get better, and its next game is against a UMass team that, frankly, isn’t on the same level.

If Penn State’s offense can’t create some explosions against UMass, the concern will only intensify.

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