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Andy Kotelnicki: More Reasons to be Excited About the Next PSU OC

Photo by Matt Lynch, Nittany Sports Now: Drew Allar and the Penn State quarterbacks warmup for the Lions conference matchup at Maryland.

Penn State has its man, and his name is Andy Kotelnicki.

The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman was the first to report Thursday that Penn State would the Kansas OC for the same position, and multiple other outlets have since confirmed.

Time will tell what becomes of this hire, but for now, it’s getting acclaim from the college football world.

Kotelnicki turned one of college football’s worst offenses (ranked outside the top 100 in total offense before he got to Kansas in 2021) into one of the best (ranked in the top ten in each of the past two seasons). But what will be bring to Penn State and QB Drew Allar? Here’s some more insight.

ANDY KOTELNICKI: PSU, KU’S 1 COMMON OPPONENT IN 2023

Penn State and Kansas each had one common opponent this past season: Illinois.

Although every game has a different set of circumstances, the two teams played Illinois eight days apart, so Illinois was in a similar state for each game.

Both teams beat Illinois, with Kansas winning 34-23  (it led 34-7 late in the third quarter) and Penn State winning 30-13.

But overall, Kansas had the more impressive offensive performance. The most glaring difference was how well Kansas ran the bowl against Illinois compared to Penn State. Despite having two quality backs in Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, Penn State picked up 164 yards on 40 carries.

Kansas, on the other hand, got 98 more yards on just four more carries.

Devin Neal went off for 120 and a touchdown on just 10 carries, and Daniel Hishaw Jr. got 98 and a score.

Kansas QB Jalon Daniels (21-29, 277 yards, two TD, 1 INT) also performed better against Illinois than Penn State’s Drew Allar did (16-for-33, no TDs), but it needs to be said that Daniels has been starting games since the pandemic season of 2020 and Allar was making just his third career start in that Illinois game.

Speaking of Allar, Daniels and quarterbacks…

ANDY KOTELNICKI AND QUARTERBACKS

All eyes will be on Allar next season, as they were this year.

Five-star players tend to attract that attention, especially at the game’s most important position.

Kotelnicki’s never had a five-star QB at his disposal, and Daniels was his starter at KU. Daniels, a three-star who was listed as a dual threat coming out of high school but has been used mainly as a pocket passer in college, only played in three games this season, but in the previous years, he showed continued improvement under Kotelnicki. In 2021, he made six starts, completing 69.2% of his passes and throwing for 860 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. The next season would be his best.

Despite missing four games due to injury, Daniels ended the year with 2,014 yards, 18 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 66.1% completion rate.

Yes, Daniels has been a success story, but perhaps more impressive than anything from Kotelnicki’s end is what Kansas did this season without Daniels.

Without Daniels, Jason Bean became the starter and Kansas continued to score.

Bean played well given the circumstances, ending the year with 1,681 yards, 12 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 61.4% completion rate. Kansas ended the regular season eighth in the country in offense, playing nine games with a backup QB. As the great Adam Sandler once said,  “Not too shabby.”

WHAT PFF SAYS

Despite Kansas’ offense being slightly worse than last season from a traditional numbers standpoint, Pro Football Focus says Kansas had a better unit by a somewhat considerable margin.

Last season, PFF gave KU the 32nd highest offensive grade in the country.

This season, it was No. 11, just .2 behind Alabama for a top 10 spot.

The differences in last year’s Kansas offense compared to this year are subjective enough to where there can be a debate on which was better.

But what’s indisputable is that that unit was way better during the Andy Kotelnicki era than before it.

In Kotelnicki’s first season as OC, PFF ranked Kansas’ offense No. 114. The year before, only Old Dominion, UConn and UMass were worse.

For now, it’s impossible to say what the Kotelnicki era will be for Penn State. But the Kansas era was a smash hit, and that should excite Penn State fans.

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