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New Offensive Coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca Getting To Know Players, Staff While In Town For Cotton Bowl Classic

New Penn State football offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kirk Ciarrocca has made it to Dallas for the 2019 Cotton Bowl Classic.

Ciarrocca was hired to replace Ricky Rahne as the Nittany Lions’ offensive play-caller on December 26, but he won’t start his new job in the fullest capacity this weekend. Instead, he’ll use this weekend to get to know his new players and fellow staff members while tight ends coach Tyler Bowen calls the offense’s plays.

“With us making the hire, we were able to get [Ciarrocca] out here, so I think there’s tremendous value in that,” head coach James Franklin said on Friday morning. “We did this to have the coach come and get around the staff and meet the players. There’s not a whole lot that he can do because the way we [hired an offensive coordinator] — we didn’t promote someone from within — so he’s not really involved, nor could he be at this point.

“He’s here more just to help in the transition, so when spring practice comes, he’s got a better familiarity with how our practices go and how they’re organized. He’ll start to build a relationship with our staff and the players and kind of get first impressions.”

Yesterday, starting quarterback Sean Clifford told reporters that he and Franklin were in touch and communicating throughout Penn State’s 17-day search for an offensive coordinator. Clifford also met Ciarrocca after he arrived in Dallas yesterday, and he thinks his new offensive coordinator can make an impact right away.

The redshirt sophomore described his new offensive coordinator as a “good guy” and a “fiery dude.” He also thinks Ciarrocca’s past experience as an offensive coordinator will prove to be invaluable as the offensive coordinator begins a new job.

Clifford also got a text from Tanner Morgan — Minnesota’s starting quarterback who played high school football less than 30 miles away from Clifford’s alma mater in Cincinnati — and he only had good things to say about Ciarrocca.

Beyond the simplicity of just getting to know his new offensive coordinator, Franklin got to pick Ciarrocca’s brain a little bit — especially about his first impressions of being around Penn State’s football program.

“It was interesting to be able to sit there with him and say, ‘What are your impressions of our program,'” Franklin said. “The thing that he said — which I think is a tremendous compliment — was that it’s very obvious that your players and coaches like each other and enjoy being at Penn State. It’s obvious just watching how everybody interacts, that you guys work really hard — but everybody seems to have a whole lot of fun while they’re doing it. In today’s college football, you better create that type of environment.”

In addition to Bowen calling the offense’s plays in Ricky Rahne’s absence, offensive analyst Kirk Campbell worked as the Nittany Lions’ interim quarterbacks coach in the buildup to the Cotton Bowl Classic. Bowen and Campbell both helped develop the Nittany Lions’ gameplan for their game against Memphis, which is slated to kick off at noon eastern. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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