The man hired to replace former offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich arrived early this week and for many unfamiliar with the Division III circuit, there was no real jubilation for the new hire.
Yes, Yurcich led the Raiders to a historical offensive outburst in 2012. He groomed quarterback Zach Zulli into the man who accounted for 383 yards of total offense per game and who threw for a nation-high 54 touchdowns.
In his two years at the helm, he transformed an anemic Wing-T offensive into an explosive spread hybrid attack that led the nation with 530 yards per game.
He used two receivers to the best of their capabilities as Trevor Harman and Jacob Baskerville each accounted for more than 90 yards receiving per game and a mind-boggling 33 touchdown receptions between the two.
However, that ship has sailed — all the way to Stillwater, Okla. Yes, Yurcich left an impression on this SU team but his travels have called him to a Division I contender — a promotion that was well deserved.
Rewind to last Monday when the hiring of Wheaton College’s Joe Davis was circulating the airwaves and a pin could be heard echoing through the catacombs of campus. Who is this guy and how can he replace a Mike Yurcich?
The answer is simple. Joe Davis, although not the privy pick to succeed Yurcich, is the coach who will keep the chains moving as SU heads into the 2013 season. He’s a offensive guru who is keen on throwing the ball, spreading the field and mixing in the run.
“Joe Davis boasts an impressive track record as both an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach,” head coach Mark ‘Mac’ Maciejewski said in a press release.
“We are excited about Joe joining our staff and becoming a member of our Red Raider family.
That track record is as extensive as a middle-aged college professor’s resume. Davis has been an assistant coach for the past 10 years, the last four as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Thunder. During his tenure at Wheaton, the Thunder were ranked in the Top 15 in three offensive categories: total yards per game (15), passing offense (15) and scoring offense (11). The Thunder averaged 40 points per game en route to an 8–2 finish with their only losses coming to Albion College and Elmhurst College.
“Joe brings passion, experience and knowledge — all qualities we were looking for in an assistant coach,” Maciejewski said. “He truly cares about the players he coaches.”
Davis will bring a slew of first-hand experience coming into Seth Grove Stadium. Davis was a star quarterback for Adrian College, tallying eight school records and then followed that up with stints in the National Indoor Football League and the Arena Football League.
More importantly, however, is that his style of offense mirrors what SU has been running for the last two seasons — with one caveat, a tad more plays run in the I-formation. With every new coach comes new verbiage, new terminology and new signals, but to bring Zulli into a new offense during his senior year would have been a catastrophic mistake.
“I have really learned a lot from [Davis] in his short time here.” Zulli said. “I’m excited to get to work.”
Filling Yurcich’s shoes might not be easy for Davis, but Maciejewski and company made the right hire because of his immense knowledge of the spread. Davis’ name may not be well known on SU’s campus quite yet, but given time, this university may have another offensive juggernaut taking the field.
The Raiders start their spring practice schedule on Monday, March 25. Their annual spring-game will be held Saturday April 13 at 1 p.m. at Seth Grove Stadium.