Penn State Football’s Interim Co-Offensive Coordinators’ Relationship Leads To On-Field Success
Before gates open and fans flood the Beaver Stadium concourse, a peaceful moment takes place.
Running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider and tight ends coach Ty Howle run through the tunnel onto the field and do a few laps to get themselves focused and ready for the upcoming game. It’s a tradition that remains even through the midst of the staffing changes that have resulted in more responsibility for both coaches.
Seider calls the run his “lazy workout,” but admits it’s mostly a byproduct of his disdain for sitting in the locker room for hours on end waiting for the game to start.
“I just wanna get ready and kick off. So it’s kind of my way of still playing,” Seider said. “I clear my mind and I can think about the game. I can imagine how my guys are going to play.”
The pregame runs Seider and Howle share are a reflection of their relationship. Both coaches were moved to co-offensive coordinator after Mike Yurcich was fired following Penn State’s loss to Michigan, and the close bond they share is one of their biggest assets.
After taking over as the play callers, Penn State scored 27 points against Rutgers before scoring 42 points against Michigan State in one of the most complete offensive performances of the year.
Howle and Seider’s close relationship helps them work well together, and it’s translated to the field. While they spent a lot of time together as friends, the relationship had to be taken to a new level after the interim promotion.
During Howle’s first year on staff in 2020, Seider says he saw something different about the coach that he liked and the pair gradually became close.
“I always saw Ty [Howle] as a bright young coach who’s super talented,” Seider said. “He’s not a ‘me’ guy… Ty has all those qualities that can make him a special coach, and he already is for us.”
Seider, like Howle, is also a humble coach who always puts the team first. During the Peach Bowl media day, Howle and Seider wouldn’t reveal who was actually calling the plays on gameday and instead pointed at each other — neither wanted to take credit.
The coaches have been working in close proximity since long before they were picked to lead the offense with Seider handling tight end substitutions on the field while Howle coaches from the booth.
“We’ve been together for four years and really tied up with a lot of stuff,” Howle said. “We share a lot of football philosophies and how we see the game.”
Now, the offensive coordinators are preparing for the Peach Bowl as their last game at the position before newly hired Andy Kotelnicki leads the offense next season.
Their close bond won’t end when they go back to their positions full-time and the duo believes they’ll be closer after finishing the 2023 season. It’s not over yet, though, and the pair has one last chance to take a pregame jog as offensive coordinators.
“We live six houses down from each other on the same road… We’ve been good friends for a long time” Howle said. “Obviously after being a part of staff for four years, you can argue you spend more time with your staff than your wife at home.”
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“I believe we can do it. I believe we have the depth. Thirteen women in there got to believe it.”
“I’m really glad I did it, and I’m really glad I listened to my sister for once.”
Hicks has scored double-digit points in the past seven games.