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Penn State Football Confident Ahead Of Kirk Ciarrocca’s Return To Beaver Stadium

When Penn State returns to Beaver Stadium Saturday, it will be the team’s first time playing since last week’s 41-17 blowout loss at Michigan. When Minnesota returns to Beaver Stadium, it will be offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca’s first time since occupying the same role for the Nittany Lions.

After Penn State offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne left his position following the 2019 season, Ciarrocca was hired to fulfill Rahne’s old post.

The COVID-19 pandemic altered Ciarrocca’s first season, as the Nittany Lions only played nine games in a truncated schedule. Despite its lackluster 4-5 season, Penn State’s offense actually ranked toward the top of the Big Ten in offensive yards per game (second), scoring (third), and third-down conversions (third).

Still, Ciarrocca was fired after the season, making room for the hiring of current offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. Despite his quick departure and replacement, Ciarrocca is not viewing the game any differently, outside of an increased number of ticket requests from friends and family.

“To me, it’s another game,” Ciarrocca said in a press conference Wednesday. “It’s a big game, and it’s against a great opponent, and [its] name happens to be Penn State.”

Ciarrocca laughed off questions about his past with the program.

“Let’s say this: it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, so that’s disappointing,” Ciarrocca said. “There were a lot of reasons for that, but… I’m a better person for it and a better coach.”

“I don’t have any ill feelings towards Penn State or James [Franklin] or the program,” Ciarrocca added.

In his weekly media availabilities, Franklin was also asked about the impending reunion with his former assistant.

“Kirk’s done a great job,” Franklin said Tuesday. “He’s had a great career, and he’s back obviously doing a really good job with their offense.”

Similar to Penn State, Minnesota enters White Out weekend with an unclear situation at starting quarterback. Sixth-year senior Tanner Morgan was carted off the field with a head injury in the Golden Gophers’ loss to Illinois Saturday. Head coach PJ Fleck has since remained noncommittal on Morgan’s status.

Franklin said after Wednesday’s practice that the Nittany Lions will be prepared for whatever Minnesota throws at them, partially because of the team’s familiarity with Ciarrocca and his tendencies.

“We know the offensive coordinator very well and what they’re going to do,” Franklin said. “He’s got a very clear identity of who he’s been wherever he’s been… So whether [Tanner Morgan] is in the game or not, we got a pretty good idea of how they’re going to operate.”

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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