Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford says he's inspired by new coordinator Mike Yurcich


18 hrs ago (March 29, 2021)

Penn State senior quarterback Sean Clifford on new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich: "He’s not a thermometer; he’s a thermostat. He walks in and changes the temperature of the room."

The Associated Press

New Penn State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is fiery, energetic and passionate, according to quarterback Sean Clifford, just like Clifford.

“We’ll butt heads because we’re so similar,” Clifford said Monday. “You see it in the meetings. You can ask any of the other quarterbacks. I’ll be talking because I want to express my point and then he’ll want to talk, too.

“It’s a really good relationship so far.”

Yurcich is Clifford’s fourth offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in his five seasons, three as the starter, with the Nittany Lions. Clifford has adjusted to each change, from Joe Moorhead to Ricky Rahne to Kirk Ciarrocca.

Clifford’s now a senior, though, and motivated to improve on his performance last season when Penn State finished 4-5. He completed 60.6% of his passes for 1,883 yards and 16 touchdowns, but he threw nine interceptions and lost two fumbles, which were returned for scores.

“I had a lot of love for Coach Ciarrocca,” he said, “and now that he’s gone, I’m developing a new relationship with Coach Yurcich. I’m not sad about it. I’m not mad about it. It’s just the way it goes.

“I’m enjoying every minute being coached by him. He’s a great coach. He’s very inspiring and he makes me want to come to work every day.”

Clifford said he believes that learning Yurcich’s offense will be easier than learning Ciarrocca’s offense because the Lions didn’t have spring practice last season and later had to work out in separate pods because of the pandemic.

He called 2020 a “weird year in general” and said he never threw with wide receiver Parker Washington, a true freshman last year, until two weeks before the Oct. 24 opener at Indiana.

“Spring ball is where you really develop your team,” Clifford said. “You work through the kinks. You’re going to mess up. It’s nice to be able to mess up in a practice and break down the film (and correct mistakes).

“Last year, that was after the Indiana game and after the Ohio State game. We were going over those new things that came up and it hurt us, as it did a lot of teams. Spring ball is critical."

He was benched in the middle of a 30-23 loss at Nebraska in favor of backup Will Levis, who since has transferred to Kentucky, and didn’t start the following week against Iowa. He had 11 TD passes and eight interceptions in the first five games, all losses, and five touchdown passes and one interception in the last four games, all wins.

“It was definitely a challenge to be benched on national television and for everybody to see it,” Clifford said. “It takes a lot out of you because you’re that guy. You want to lead your team. You want to be there for everybody.

“The one week that you don’t have that opportunity, it kind of hurts. I would be lying if I said it didn’t. But at the same time, I knew that I had to be there for my teammates and for Will, especially. I honestly looked at it as an opportunity to grow and learn.”

Penn State coach James Franklin fired Ciarrocca after one season and hired Yurcich hoping to improve the offense in general and Clifford in particular. Yurcich has enjoyed success at coaching stops that include Shippensburg, Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Texas.

Clifford declined to get into the specifics of Yurcich’s offense because the Lions aren’t halfway through spring practice.

“Everything is happening so fast and you’re trying to get every install in,” he said. “It’s been exciting. It’s a combination of explosiveness and grinding it out. It’s everything you want.”

Clifford said he liked playing for Moorhead, Rahne and Ciarrocca. So far, Yurcich is everything he wants in a coach.

“He makes you just want to be there,” Clifford said. “It’s really every single day, the way he talks and the way he commands a room. He’s not a thermometer; he’s a thermostat. He walks in and changes the temperature of the room.

“When we’re going over a concept, we need to know every little detail of it. I think that’s what every great OC needs to do.”

Popular Posts