In this era of college football, predictability is a recipe for disaster against elite teams for Penn State and any other school.
See former offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s offense against Ohio State and Michigan this year for prime examples.
Unpredictability is something Penn State’s craved offensively under James Franklin, it’s not something that his teams have provided. It certainly wasn’t the case under Yurcich and former offensive coordinators Kirk Ciarrocca and John Donovan.
Joe Moorhead and Ricky Rahne were able to flex some unpredictability but also benefitted in large part due to having Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley, plus a cavalcade of future NFL wide receivers at their disposals.
Now, Franklin has turned to Andy Kotelnicki to guide the offensive ship for Penn State. The hiring of Kotelnicki, who has spent the past three seasons at Kansas as the offensive coordinator under head coach Lance Leipold, is intriguing and full of potential.
He’s helped Leipold turn things around in a big way with Kansas after spending seven seasons at Buffalo, where the duo teamed up and did the same thing: rack up yards and points by being unpredictable.
It’s safe to assume that both Buffalo and Kansas don’t match up personnel-wise with Penn State. PSU has the better athletes in comparison, but what Kotelnicki has done with less has been mighty impressive.
Kotelnicki’s offense caught the eye of Franklin following their game in 2019, a game that featured a 10-play, 96-yard touchdown drive.
“Buffalo had a really good plan coming in,” Franklin said after the game. “Typically if you have looked at us, we have been able to make some good adjustments after the first couple of drives once we see what people are trying to do to attack us.”
Kotelnicki and co. have proven to keep teams on their heels with his unpredictable schemes and play calling. Look no further than Kansas’ performance following an injury starting quarterback Jalon Daniels.
Kansaa picked up right where it left off with backup quarterback Jason Bean leading the charge.
To name the offense Kotelnicki runs is impossible, but it has a multitude of different concepts that maximize the skills of the personnel.
“I don’t have a name for it,” Kotelnicki told the University Daily Kansan early this season. “If I’m going to give the elevator pitch, I think I’ve said this before, I’ll tell you it’s a multiple pro-style offense that uses spread concepts. Emphasis on multiple, emphasis on pro-style in a sense that we use a lot of different personnel groupings and put them in positions to be successful, just like you see on Sundays.”
If this sounds familiar, it should, because Franklin mentioned that exact scheme just last week in a press conference about what he’s looking for in a coordinator.
“Somebody that’s going to come in and be able to use the personnel based on how it’s already been built,” Franklin said.
It seems as though Kotelnicki can do just that and, right now, he should be able to maximize Penn State’s offensive potential.
This includes a two-quarterback system that he used frequently with Kansas as well as establishing a running attack that saw no significant drop-off between players. All of those are significant parts of Franklin’s current team.
Is Kotelnicki the right guy to take the offense from great to elite? That remains to be seen, but all things considered, he does look like a substantial upgrade schematically from Yurcich, that’s exactly what Penn State needed.
Below are a few play designs that he ran at Kansas that should have fans excited.
Kansas was one of my favorite Offenses to study.
OC Andy Kotelnicki is heading to Penn State and here is a quick Thread some of my favorite Plays he designed!
— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) November 30, 2023
Kansas running a 2 QB Boot Reverse Boot! pic.twitter.com/EDIjdHLe37
— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) November 27, 2022
Kansas using 13 Personnel to run an Orbit Boot RB Throwback Wheel! pic.twitter.com/7S43cZMZaO
— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) December 28, 2022
For your viewing pleasure check out this mic’d up video.