The Norm Chow Factor
How does Norm Chow factor into Utah’s hope for success over USC? Aside from preparing the Utes to attack a Trojan defense, the coordinator also has familiarity with an old colleague, which is something to be shared with those designated to slowing Matt Barkley.
Chow returns to the Los Angeles Coliseum, where from 2001 to 2004 he acted as the teacher, and among his pupils on staff was a wide receivers coach named Lane Kiffin. The master then left USC for the NFL in 2005, and the student rose to become offensive coordinator, and eventually head coach.
The pair has been reunited just twice since the early days of designing championship formulas for Pete Carroll offenses, with each claiming a victory in their new roles. But when you look at the numbers, especially those of quarterbacks, you have to wonder if Chow was able to share knowledge with others to take advantage of the tendencies of a former friend—or is it mere coincidence.
In games featuring Norm Chow teams versus Lane Kiffin, there is a noticeable drop off in the play of quarterbacks. Matt Barkley and Tennessee’s Jonathan Crompton combined for just one touchdown and 5 interceptions against Chow’s Bruins, with both tossing for fewer than 200 yards in those games. The Vols fell to defeat, while it was the legs of running back Allen Bradford that powered the Trojans to victory. Barkley’s 15 completions were just one better than the season-low 14 for a full game against Washington, when Kiffin faced another former face of USC coaching, Steve Sarkisian. Crompton completed just 13 passes for Kiffin’s Vols in the 2009 loss to UCLA.
If you know a person well enough, then certain formations will indicate a particular playcall, which was beautifully exploited by former USC staff member DeWayne Walker. It was a Walker coached Bruins defense that jumped Kiffin’s routes and limited the Trojans to just 9 points in the 2006 loss.
So was it knowledge of coaching tendencies or simply a Bruins defense that slowed Kiffin quarterbacks? I guess we’ll find the answer on Saturday, with UCLA eliminated from the equation.