New Penn State offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne talks Tommy Stevens’ role in the future, his offensive philosophy, and more
Penn State assistant coach Ricky Rahne celebrate the Big Ten Championship win over Wisconsin with his son on Dec. 3, 2016. Joe Hermitt | firstname.lastname@example.org
STATE COLLEGE — If you want the truth, according to James Franklin, then the truth about his decision to promote Ricky Rahne to offensive coordinator was really a decision that was a decade in the making.
You have to go back to Franklin’s time at Kansas State, when Rahne was there as well, to understand why Franklin promoted Rahne to replace Joe Moorhead, who left Penn State for the Mississippi State head coaching job after the regular season.
Rahne, was Penn State’s tight ends coach when Moorhead made the move to the SEC.
And Rahne, a former Cornell quarterback, was a Kansas State grad assistant and later a running backs coach in 2006-07, the time Franklin served as the KSU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Rahne joined Franklin’s Vanderbilt staff as an offensive assistant for three years before coming to Penn State with Franklin.
“Yeah, me and Ricky have been talking about these things for 10 years,” Franklin said Friday during Penn State’s Bowl Media Day. The Lions play Washington in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 30.
“You know, as you guys know, (Rahne) called the bowl game (the TaxSlayer against Georgia) a couple years ago when Trace (McSorley), I think, threw his first touchdown pass. You know, so I knew this was something that was a goal of his in his future.
“I tell our GAs, I tell our coaches, I’m not a big believer in resumes,” Franklin added. “
“I’m not a big believer in interviews. I get it, especially with people you don’t know, I get that. But the reality is, Ricky Rahne, has been interviewing for this position since he was a graduate assistant for me at Kansas State.
“Ricky was the offensive graduate assistant and Scott Frost was the defensive graduate assistant on our staff at Kansas State. So he’s been preparing and interviewing for this responsibility for a long time.”
Rahne filled in for John Donovan against Georgia in the TaxSlayer after Franklin cut ties with John Donovan. The OC gig is now his permanent job and Rahne said Friday he’s learned plenty from Moorhead, who installed the RPO spread prior to the 2016 season.
Rahne said he is a believer in physical play, creating explosive plays, and big play from the quarterback position. PSU is fortunate to have All-Big Ten quarterback Trace McSorley with Tommy Stevens and Sean Clifford in reserve.
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Stevens, though, is moving into a different role soon. He’s too talented to sit while McSorley plays. And Tommy, a dual-threat like Trace, can make an impact as a runner, receiver and passer. He totaled nine touchdowns in limited work in 2017 and Stevens ran for more than 100 yards in the 66-3 win over Maryland.
Stevens has been moved to the newly created “Lion” role because Franklin considers him a starter. You’ll see him play different positions moving forward.
“He’s a natural,” Rahne said of Stevens.
“He can run a route, you can kind of tell him what you want. Everything is very natural to him. He’s probably one of those guys — I’ve never seen it — but I bet he’s good at pool, shooting darts, I’m sure that if I put him on a golf course, he’s probably going to drive the ball 315 yards down the middle. … He’s just one of those guys that everything is very natural to him.”
And one more thing, PSU fans. Expect Rahne’s offense to have different wrinkles than Moorhead’s but there will be a couple of constants.
“We’re not going to go under center, there’s no fullback,” Rahne said.
“We don’t huddle, we congregate. … If we ever want to do that, we can congregate, but that’s not something that we’re going to go with.”
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