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Penn State: For Ty Howle, Ja’Juan Seider, Simplicity is the Name of the Game

General images during the Penn State co-coordinator and players news conference prior to the 2023 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023, in Atlanta, Ga. Penn State will face Ole Miss in the NCAA college football bowl game on December 30th. (Paul Abell via Abell Images for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl)

ATLANTA — Ja’Juan Seider and Ty Howle enter the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl as Penn State football’s co-offensive coordinators before they turn the reins over to newly hired OC Andy Kotelnicki following the game.

Since taking over after former OC Penn State OC Mike Yurcich was fired, Seider and Howle have been focused on taking the thinking out of the offense when they’re on the field.

“Our motto since we took over is simplicity equals speed,” Seider told reporters Wednesday at a pre-Peach Bowl press conference. “What that means is we don’t want these guys thinking. We want them to go play. We recruited well. We’ve got great talent. The worst thing they can do is go into a game thinking of ‘I could, I should, I would be doing instead of just reacting to what the defense does and taking advantage of our skill.”

That mentality goes deeper than just taking the players thinking, but rather scheming the offense around the players and not forcing them to conform to the plays an offense consists of.

“I think that’s something that we really thought about when this transition happened, what we wanted it to look like,” Howle said. “The first thing we thought about was players, not plays. Who are the guys that are going to help us win? And being able to take advantage of things that they do well and put them in the positions to do those things.”

Starting with those basics has proven to work for Seider and Howle as they enter Saturday’s matchup against Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. It’s a simple philosophy that has paid off so far for the co-offensive coordinators.

“I think with offensive philosophy, that’s where you’ve got to start because not every team looks the same every year,” Howle said. “A team doesn’t look the same at the beginning of the year as it does at the end of the year. So starting with players and not plays has kind of been our philosophy, and then allowing those guys to go play fast and execute has been the big key for us.”

After all, it’s not the offensive coordinators who win games, but the players who do so.

“It’s not plays, it’s players,” Seider said. “At the end of the day, you win games by the kids you’ve got on the field and not what you think as a play caller.”

Seider and Howle will benefit from having an offense that is relatively healthy with Harrison Wallace III returning to the practice field and no offensive players electing to opt-out of the bowl game.

“I think any time there’s continuity, it helps the offense as a whole and not just the coordinators,” Howle said. “That’s obviously been big for us in allowing us to keep building on the things that we were doing there at the end of the season”

The entire offensive unit being available in some capacity is a major advantage for Howle and Seider and makes things much easier when it comes to developing a game plan against Ole Miss.

“We do a good job all year developing guys. We have a motto, next man up so we sub a lot,” Seider said. “We’ve got a lot of guys with experience. It’s good to have our nucleus back so it really doesn’t change our thought process of how we game plan. At the end of the day, it starts with what these guys do best and what our guys up front can block best. That’s how we divide up the game plan, and then we go and try to attack defense.”

Seider and Howle also benefit from the 15 extra bowl practices teams are allowed to have in preparation for their bowl games which allows them to put in a few more wrinkles than they’d be able to in a normal week. Having the same complement of players goes a long way in adding those wrinkles.

“The one thing that’s a little different in a bowl game is you have a lot more time to prepare,” Howle said. “Being able to give these guys multiple, different looks on the things that you’re going to run and those things, that continuity of having your guys there, they’ve seen a lot of that so from that standpoint, it’s been great to have all those guys playing.”

While Seider and Howle are running the show for the offense at the moment, the incumbent, Kotelnicki is with the team and is in all meetings as he gathers intel on his new program. He’s also able to serve as a sounding board to the coaching staff as they implement the gameplan.

“He’s obviously in every meeting and all that with us when we’re watching film. So we’ll watch a play. Hey, Coach, what do you think about this? Because he’s getting to know our players and getting to know our staff,” Howle said.

It’s an excellent opportunity to pick his brain and gather more knowledge in hopes of it paying off when Penn State plays Ole Miss Saturday afternoon.

“Having the ability— obviously he was very creative on offense at Kansas and Buffalo, and there’s some things that maybe he did that we’re doing that he has a really good coaching point on it. So we’re able to pick his brain,” Howle said. “He’s able to ask us questions about things we’re doing because obviously, come January, we’re seeing what this thing looks like and all that with him taking over.”

Anytime there is a coaching change or position change, there’s always a chance things could get rough or not go nearly as smoothly as most would like, which is something that doesn’t seem to be the case for Kotelnicki and the current Penn State coordinators.

“It’s been a really good back-and-forth process throughout this bowl prep with Coach K, and him observing, but also, hey, Coach, what do you think about this?” Howle said. “Or, hey, do you have a better way to maybe state something or teach something? At the end of the day, we’re all teachers so you’re always looking for the best way for it to connect with our kids. So it’s been awesome having him in there.”

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