Much taller than Mike Gundy’s first offensive coordinator in now North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora, Yurcich does have facial features that resemble Fedora. In that video he has a disarming style as for lack of a sophisticated telestrator he uses children’s action figures on what looks like a green Lego field to describe his tricky X’s and O’s.
“Sure, we started out in base personnel and with these Star Wars figures, you’d probably be surprised that this is not my first time to diagram a play with Star Wars (figures) having a 1-year-old,” Yurcich explains to the host, who looks like a broadcasting student.
“I tell you if he were here we’d have a hard time keeping them on the board. We had five O-linemen with R2D2 being the center, and Obi One Kenobi there and Darth Vader at the tight end.”
Last season opponents on defense had to feel like Yurcich and the Red Raiders offense was something along the lines of Darth Vader to defend as Shippensburg ran up huge numbers leading Division II in total offense with 529.9 yards a game. The split was roughly 380 passing yards a game to 150 rushing yards. They averaged 46.85 points a game to finish second in NCAA Division II. They ran 1,033 plays and averaged 6.7 yards a snap.
There is no doubt that they are spread, no-huddle, and high tempo. That's exactly what Oklahoma State does, and what Mike Gundy wants out of his new offensive coordinator in using the current playbook in Stillwater.
Yurcich will be able to add his own tweaks and nuances, but the base and most of the offense remains the same.
Yurcich has coached at Shippensburg for two seasons, both as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. This past season they went 11-2 and lost in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs to Winston Salem State. Their other loss was in the regular season finale against Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
His first season at Shippensburg wasn’t shabby. The Red Raider offense did major damage on the school record books in 2011 after the installation of Yurcich’s successful passing game. In total, the Raiders set five offensive single-season school records: 411 points, 55 total touchdowns, 898 total plays, 281 first downs and 5,124 yards of total offense.
The first down mark also led the NCAA, with a 25.5 per game average. The Raiders were also ninth in the nation in total offense (465.82 yards per game) and 14th in scoring offense (37.36 points per game). SU also finished the regular season second in the PSAC in scoring (37.4 points per game) and total offense (464 yards per game).
In its seven victories, Shippensburg scored at least 40 points and outscored its opponents by a 327-94 margin to boast an average victory of 33.2 points. Its highest point total of the year came against Cheyney, when the offense posted 59 points as Yurcich’s pupil, first-year starting quarterback Zach Zulli, set a single-game school record with six touchdown passes.
Zulli thrived under the new offensive attack and finished the year setting single-season records of 226 completions and 34 passing touchdowns while his 2,741 passing yards were good for second-most in single-season school history (just 91 yards short of the record set by Chris Gicking in 1999). Backup quarterback Steven Adams and wide receiver Trevor Harman also threw touchdowns during the season, giving the Raiders 36 total which set another school record for a single year.
By the second season Zulli was so accomplished he won the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in winning the Harlon Hill Trophy.
A couple of curiosities with the hire, which many are speculating is the result of wanting to hire a coach that might be less attractive to other schools needing a head coach to poach in a year or two.
How did Gundy come across Yurcich? Really don’t know but our guess is the final interview may have taken place last week when the private jet Gundy was using to criss-cross the country for recruiting home visits went from Atlanta, where Gundy was in the home of Darius Curry, to Maryland before heading to Salt Lake City for a home visit with Ofa Hautau.
Now, another interesting factor is that Yurcich has never coached in this Midlands or the Southwest. His only Division I experience was in 2003-04 as a graduate assistant on the Indiana staff under Gerry DiNardo. Yurcich was helping with wide receivers.
I know this, if the offense continues to hum along at the same pace it has under Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken, then in two years Yurcich, who will then be 39 years old, will be the head coach of a needy Sun Belt school, Conference USA school, or West Virginia if Holgorsen wears out his welcome. Schools won't be detered if Yurcich is showing his prowess as a coach at Division I despite only a couple of years at the level.
Finally, Yurcich has never on appearance recruited in the Midlands or Southwest. That position has really been used to recruit quarterbacks and it may stay that way. In that case, Pennsylvania is the land of Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, and other quarterbacking greats. It would seem that Yurcich could certainly recruit quarterbacks anywhere as he speaks that language.
Before going to Shippensburg, Yurcich spent the previous six seasons (2005-10) at Edinboro University as its quarterbacks coach and spent the final five years of his tenure as the offensive coordinator.
The Fighting Scots averaged at least 30 points per game from 2007-09 and consistently ranked among Division II’s top offenses. Among PSAC rankings, Edinboro was one of the top two offenses from a statistical standpoint in all three of those seasons – leading the league in 2008.
Specifically, the Edinboro passing game thrived under Yurcich’s direction. The 2008 and 2009 Fighting Scots led the PSAC in passing offense, while the 2009 squad ranked 17th in Division II. In 2007, the Fighting Scots ranked eighth in Division II for passing offense, 18th in total offense and 25th in scoring offense.
A 1999 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, Yurcich was a three-year regular at quarterback with the Vulcans. He was a two-year captain at Cal and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Before his arrival in western Pennsylvania, Yurcich spent two seasons at Mount Union College playing for legendary coach Larry Kehres.
After California, Yurcich received a master’s degree in education from Saint Francis (Ind.) in 2002, where he earned a school counseling license. During his time at Saint Francis he was an assistant coach that helped the Cougars win four consecutive Mid-States Football Association Mid-East League Championships and compile a 38-8 record during his four-year tenure.
With Saint Francis, Yurcich was the running backs coach in 1999 before working with the quarterbacks in 2000 and 2001. He served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2002, a season that Saint Francis boasted the nation’s top offense among NAIA schools averaging 530 yards per game. Yurcich also served as the junior varsity head coach from 2000-02.
Yurcich grew up in Ohio and is married to former Edinboro cross country All-American Julie Nemergut. They have two sons, Jack and Clay.
My guess is they may start out diagraming football plays with Star Wars figures.
(The Shippensburg Football Media Guide, and specifically the bio of Mike Yurcich, was used some in this story.)