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‘Seamless Transition’ adjusting to New Penn State Offensive Coordinator Andy Kotelnicki

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Andy Kotelnicki left the comfort and familiarity of Kansas and coaching with Lance Leipold to join James Franklin and Penn State in a conference and setting unbeknownst to Kotelnicki.

It’s an unknown challenge in a cutthroat world of college football where every play is broken down detail by detail by opponents and fans alike.

To say things have gone well for Kotelnicki since being named offensive coordinator in November, might actually be an understatement given his mood and the mood of some of his fellow offensive coaches.

“It’s been awesome. I think everyone’s been welcoming. And I think I said that before, I really enjoy working with the staff,” Kotelnicki said. “I think the more time that you spend with people, the more you really could get to know them, and the longer that I’m here, the more I really enjoy being around the staff and the camaraderie that we develop, and then the players.”

The getting to know you process began for the Penn State offensive staff in spring ball and from there it’s continued to blossom in the short time he’s had an office in the Lasch Football Building.

“Andy got a chance to be around us during the spring practice, so we already had chemistry before we really dove into it,” running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider said. “Just with Andy, it’s easy to work with him. He’s got a great personality. He’s not an ego guy. He listens, even if he doesn’t take your idea, he’s still listening unless somebody responds because a lot of guys sit in that seat and this is where we going to do it. It’s the only way we’re going to do it, no matter what you are good at. He hasn’t been that way and I think he’s done a great job of getting the kids to believe because that’s part of being a great football team when the players believe in you. Let’s not kid, we got talent now. We got to make our kids believe in and I think Andy’s done a great job of doing that.”

Seeing is believing, of course, and there’s still quite a bit of time before the Nittany Lions will debut their new offense under Kotelnicki against West Virginia. It might not look entirely different than the variations of the offense that have been seen under Franklin at Penn State, though, it might encompass all of them.

“In my mind, you guys won’t see it this way, but my mind, we have not changed a whole lot in terms of the things that we’ve done here in the past,” Franklin said. “What I mean is maybe some aspects of what you saw when we first got here, maybe some aspects you saw with Joe Moorehead, maybe some aspects what you saw with coach (Mike) Yurcich and so on and so forth.”

A major part of what brought Kotelnicki to Penn State is his ability to design and execute explosive plays as well as getting the ball into the hands of your best playmakers which was a startling concern with the offense under Yurcich.

“One of the biggest issues we had last year was explosive plays. I think the most explosive we were were in the last two games,” Franklin said. “The more we can be explosive, specifically in the passing game, I think we’ll also create opportunities for us to be more explosive in the running game, and also just in terms of running back touches. The other one that I’m adamant about that was that was challenging and problematic the last couple years was the emphasis of getting the ball into your best players hands. You’ve got to be able to do that as a play caller, and that was a big part of this interview process.”

To do that, Kotelnicki is maximizing areas where players have shown strengths and working within their weaknesses to improve while also doing what’s in the best interest of the program.

“The big thing with Andy coming in we’re focused on doing what’s best for Penn State and best for our players,” tight ends coach Ty Howle said. “And he’s done a really nice job of, ‘Hey, we got these guys that they do this really well. Well, let’s let them do that, and we’ll develop them to do other things. But right now, maybe player X is a great fade runner. Well, let’s have him run fades and develop them to do other guys.’ And so it’s been a seamless transition, as far as that goes for our team and for our coaching staff. He’s a great guy, so it was easy when he came in the room you felt like you knew him for a long time so he’s developed camaraderie within our offensive staff unit and within our offense.”

That level of cohesion coupled with Kotelnicki experiencing the passion behind Penn State fans up close and personal has already endeared him to the Central PA region despite not having coached a game for the Nittany Lions. It should also provide fans with the opportunity to get behind the new play caller in a way unbeknownst to Yurcich.

“I think the passion that the fan base has is a little bit different than places I’ve been before, which I don’t know if you have to get used to that, per se, but it’s kind of like, oh, they’re pretty Die Hard, you know, before I even called a play yet they told me I suck.  I’m teasing, of course. but those kinds of things, I would say the passion for the fan base and this alumni base is special.”

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