Fleck plans to bring Ciarrocca back as Gophers offensive coordinator – .

Fleck plans to bring Ciarrocca back as Gophers offensive coordinator – .

Looks like Gophers football coach PJ Fleck is putting the old squad back together.

Fleck plans to bring back Kirk Ciarrocca as the team’s offensive coordinator, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Star Tribune on Thursday night. Ciarrocca, who was the Gophers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2017-19, would replace Mike Sanford Jr., who was told on Monday that he would not be returning to the squad in 2022.

Ciarrocca, 56, left the Gophers after their 10-2 regular season in 2019 to become offensive coordinator at Penn State. The Pennsylvania native was dropped by the Nittany Lions after a 4-5 season in 2020 and worked as an offensive analyst for West Virginia this season. Ciarrocca was almost hired to be West Virginia’s offensive coordinator after the 2018 season, but decided to stick with Minnesota.

Under Ciarrocca, the Gophers offense has improved significantly over his three years of service. The 2017 Gophers averaged 22.1 points (108th nationally) and 308.5 total yards (123rd). That improved to 28.9 points and 379.6 total yards in 2018 and 34.1 points (tied for 20th) and 432 yards (22nd) in 2019.

Additionally, Minnesota’s passing game under Ciarrocca and QB Tanner Morgan took off starting in 2018, when the Gophers averaged 170.9 yards per game, followed by 253.3 in 2019. Ciarrocca also coached the Gophers. quarters.

Morgan, pitching to wide-conference receivers Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman, won second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2019 after throwing 30 touchdown passes with seven interceptions.

When Ciarrocca left the Gophers before the Outback Bowl, Fleck reflected on their time together.

“It was hard to hear just because you have such a good relationship. But you know it’s going to happen at some point, “Fleck said in 2019.” Kirk has given me an incredible seven years, and it’s a relationship. It’s like a little break. “

After wide receivers coach Matt Simon coordinated the offense in the 31-24 Outback Bowl win over Auburn, Fleck appointed Sanford as offensive co-coordinator with Simon, but Sanford had the bulk of the chores. ‘play call.

Under Sanford, the Gophers’ offense retreated in 2020, averaging 27.2 points (71st) nationally, 391.0 total yards (69th) and 199.1 passing yards (199, 1). This season, the score fell to 26.1 points per game (tied for 84th), total yards were 360.2 (98th) and passing yards were 166.4 (98th).

The Gophers have thrown 244 passes all season, fourth in the 130 FBS schools and only ahead of the Air Force, Navy and Army race-focused service academies.

News broke on Sunday that Morgan would return for his sixth season in 2022, with QB substitutes Zack Annexstad and Jacob Clark entering the transfer portal. A day later, Sanford was out.

Ciarrocca and Fleck go back to their days as assistant coaches on Greg Schiano’s staff at Rutgers in 2010. Ciarrocca was the offensive coordinator for Fleck in West Michigan from 2013 through 2016, including the 13-0 regular season of the Broncos and the appearance of Cotton Bowl in 2016, before joining Fleck in Minnesota.

Prior to leaving for Penn State, Ciarrocca was set to receive $ 1 million in 2020 and 2021 with the Gophers.


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