UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — The college football coaching world is fast-moving– coaches, especially assistants, move every few years to new positions. It’s a carousel and it comes full circle when the Nittany Lions face off against one of their own in Minnesota offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca.
“He’s got a really good understanding of who we are and what we do and how we operate and our personnel,” said James Franklin, Penn State’s head football coach. “And we’ve got a pretty good understanding of what he likes to do offensively.”
Ciarrocca spent 2020 in Happy Valley. Penn State brought him in from Minnesota and he returned to the Golden Gophers this fall.
He has found instant success, particularly running the ball. Minnesota is third in the Big Ten in rushing (227.8 yards per game) and have scored the second-most touchdowns on the ground (20.)
But, that one season coaching along side Franklin could help the Nittany Lion prepare.
“We know the offensive coordinator very well and what they’re going to do and how they’re going to operate,” said Franklin. “I mean, you know, you look at him, he’s got a very clear identity of who he’s been, kind of wherever he’s been. And what they do they do a really good job with. So whether he’s in the game or not, we’ve got a pretty good idea of how they’re going to operate.”
After the Golden Gophers started 4-0, Minnesota has dropped the last two games as they wrangle injuries at both running back and quarterback. Like Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, Minnesota starting quarterback Tanner Morgan is also questionable on Saturday.