Ciarrocca: PJ Pointed Out Coverage on Autman-Bell; Coaches “Drew the Play in the Dirt” that Sent Fresno to OT

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Today, we met with Gopher Football (OC) Kirk Ciarrocca and (DC) Joe Rossi in their weekly media appearances and both had some great takes on last weekend’s win and their matchup on Saturday (at TCF Bank Stadium vs Georgia Southern). I’ll have more on Rossi’s appearance later today. But first, I needed to touch on what Kirk Ciarrocca said about the play that sent the Fresno game into OT.

PJ Fleck touched on it in his press conference yesterday and, when the topic first sparked my interest. He said that the play wasn’t something they had drawn up ahead of time or something they necessarily have in the playbook. Instead, that he and Kirk had gotten together right before that 4th-down and decided collectively, they were going to target Chris Autman-Bell because of the focus Fresno State had on both Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman.

I ask the question at the 08:15 mark and Kirk keeps me on my toes, asking exactly what Fleck said about the play call, but then he answered with more insight than I ever could have asked for.

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I love so many things about this answer.

First, Fleck and Ciarrocca are really good friends. If they weren’t Kirk wouldn’t be here anymore. Their closeness shows in both the comfortability they have to move things around on the fly, like they did Saturday night to keep the game alive, and in the honesty and credit handed out afterward.

Kirk wasn’t surprised when I told him that Fleck mentioned the playcall being a team effort. The OC was quick to credit the original idea (to target “CRAB” and his single coverage) to Fleck. He was then quick to credit the entire staff for the impromptu design, that was then executed to perfection by the offense. How much anyone had to do with that play design, outside of the offensive guru Kirk Ciarrocca himself, is unknown; but we all know who runs and designed this entire offense.

Also, let’s not lose track of how great this coaching is, on all levels. If you follow the Gopher football team then you’ve already seen how great of a recruiter PJ Fleck is, but those who defend him are constantly fighting unfounded attacks against his character and coaching credibility. If the backstory of this play, in an incredibly pressure packed game-on-the-line situation, doesn’t show the coaching ability of PJ and his entire staff… then you’re not willing to open your mind to a strong personality that makes you (for whatever reason) uncomfortable, no matter what they do to prove your biases wrong.

And that’s on you.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan.

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