Penn State is set to enter a new era with its sixth offensive coordinator under head coach James Franklin as the Nittany Lions hired away Kansas offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki from the Jayhawks on Friday afternoon. There will be no shortage of questions and intrigue in the coming months and years, but here are four question and/or storylines to consider for now.

A New Take On An Old Problem: The fact of the matter is Penn State didn’t hire Kotelnicki to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the majority of the season’s schedule. The Nittany Lions are talented enough that it doesn’t take an exceptional offensive mind to figure out how to win the majority of the games Penn State has any given year. That’s not a knock on Penn State’s opponents, it just is what it is. That being said Kotelnicki was very much hired to find a solution to Penn State’s problems against Michigan, Ohio State and whatever new issues Oregon, UCLA, Washington and USC pose in the new-look Big Ten.

To some extent this issue is more complicated when you consider that what Penn State has done in the past hasn’t exactly failed – the Nittany Lions have given Ohio State and Michigan some of their stiffest tests of the season and outside of the 2023 debacles offensively, there hasn’t been a glaring disparity between Penn State and its two Big Ten East [RIP] rivals. All of that being said, Kotelnicki’s ability to get more juice out of the orange could prove to be the deciding factor. Same old problem, some already valid solutions, what’s Kotelnicki’s take on those big games? That’s what he’s here for.

So What Do You Do Well?: James Franklin made a point of mentioning that one of the things that he wanted in a new offensive coordinator [and ostensibly all of the old ones] was the ability to use the roster to do the things that it’s good at and not force it to be good at something else. There’s a little give and take there, but the understanding that Kotelnicki has of the players at his disposal and how he uses that knowledge could be the biggest factor in this hire. Kansas may have lacked the same standing as Penn State in the college football world but the Jayhawks did a ton of things really well with far less recruiting power. Even back when Kotelnicki was at Buffalo he never worked with a recruiting class within the Top 100 and still managed to do nationally-elite things with that offense. Penn State hasn’t had a class worse than No. 24. under Franklin so Kotelnicki is about to have a ton of talent to work with, how he works with it will be the difference maker.

Allar, Singleton, Allen, KLS: If we’re working from the assumption all of these players will be back in 2024 [which might not be a safe assumption but time will tell] these should be – on paper – the players that Kotelnicki utilizes the most. That’s fairly obvious but his relationship and early selling points might be the thing that holds it all together. Allar and Singleton in particular have said they’ll be back in 2024, but Singleton’s down year in a lot of ways could lend itself to at least the thoughts of moving on. There’s no evidence that would happen, but every new coordinator has to sell his vision to his new players. That’s nothing new here, but the transfer portal is what it is. And in the case of KeAndre Lambert-Smith, his production decline the back half of the year might need the most tending to. None of this is rocket science, but all of it is important. Most of all, what he wants to do with Drew Allar, and what he can do to get him there.

What Stays And What Goes: For years Penn State’s offensive identity has been built around the idea that continuity is the key. There’s something to be said for that and Penn State’s overarching success has proven the general theory true – the Nittany Lions haven’t needed to do things differently they’ve just needed to do them better sometimes. The introduction of Kotelnicki appears to be a deviation from that somewhat which brings up the question – what parts of Penn State’s offense stay [if any] and which parts go. This could be a reinvention of Penn State’s offensive identity – maybe a needed one – but change is a trial in its own right. Kotelnicki has had success with quarterback that run and ones who haven’t so that won’t be an issue, but the rest of it will be interesting to see how it unfolds. Goodbye bubble screens and hello pre-snap motion.

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