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Brown Thinks the Addition of Kirk Ciarrocca Will Further Improve WVU’s Ground Game

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Leddie Brown
Sep 12, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers running back Leddie Brown (4) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, West Virginia football announced the addition of Kirk Ciarrocca to its coaching staff as an offensive analyst. Ciarrocca was most recently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Penn State in 2020 and before that he held the same role at Minnesota from 2017-19.

On Wednesday, WVU coach Neal Brown talked about the hiring of Ciarrocca, who he met when they worked together at the University of Delaware in 2005.

“I think it’s a great addition,” Brown said following WVU’s first Spring practice. “I think his body of work speaks for itself if you look at what he did at Western Michigan and then at Minnesota, and [Penn State] played well down the stretch last year I think some of that got blown out of proportion. I think he’s as good as anybody in the country. He’s going to add a level of expertise for us on offense.”

Brown talked about the offensive success Ciarrocca had at Western Michigan from 2013-16 that he then carried to the power five level with the move to Minnesota in 2017. Despite putting up strong passing numbers throughout his career, Brown said Ciarrocca has mostly had success running the ball.

“He’s had some really good quarterbacks but if you look at how they ran the ball, [Minnesota was] one of the top rushing teams in the Big 12, and really well balanced, same with Western Michigan,” Brown said. “A lot of really good teams on offense talk about throwing the football a lot…but they win games running the football. If you look at what he’s done during his career, that would match up as well.”

Looking at the stats from Ciarrocca’s last three jobs (PSU, Minnesota and Western Michigan) the numbers back up Brown’s claims. Offenses under Ciarrocca have been very productive in his career, particularly running the ball. WVU’s rushing offense took a big jump this season from 73.3 yards per game in 2019 to 135.1 yards per game in 2020. However, nearly 75% of WVU’s rushing production came solely from junior Leddie Brown and the Mountaineers still finished third-to-last in the Big 12 in running the football.

The year prior to Ciarrocca joining each program is also included for the sake of comparison.

Penn State (2020)

Penn State Total Yards/Game Passing Yards/Game Rushing Yards/Game Points/Game
2020 (1st Season) 430.3 256 174.3 29.8
2019 411.9 221.3 190.6 35.8

Brown was correct when he said Penn State played better down the stretch. In an 0-5 start to the season, PSU averaged 24.6 points per game. During a 4-0 finish, they averaged 36.3 points per game.

Minnesota (2017-2019)

Minnesota Total Yards/Game Passing Yards/Game Rushing Yards/Game Points/Game
2019 432 253.3 178.7 34.1
2018 379.6 208.8 170.8 28.9
2017 (1st Season) 308.5 126.1 182.4 22.1
2016 357.2 173.6 183.6 29.3

Western Michigan

Western Michigan
Total Yards/Game Passing Yards/Game Rushing Yards/Game Points/Game
2016 481.2 252.4 228.9 41.6
2015 491.1 287.4 203.7 36
2014 438.2 267.3 170.8 33.8
2013 (1st Season) 327.2 211 116.2 17.17
2012 304.3 199.3 105 12.9

 

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