When the Brigham Young Cougars (2-2) play the Hawaii Warriors (1-2) tonight, it will mark the fourth time that Norm Chow has returned to Provo since he left the BYU coaching staff following the 1999 season. The three previous times, Chow has been an assistant coach. This time he is the head coach.
Chow has had mixed results against his former employer. In 2004, he was the offensive coordinator for the no. 1 ranked USC Trojans. They handed BYU a 42-10 loss. Four years later, Chow was back as the offensive coordinator for the Trojans’ cross-town rival UCLA. This time BYU came out on top 59-0. Last year, Chow was the offensive coordinator for BYU’s rival, and his alma mater, Utah. Chow and the Utes were the ones leaving with a big win this time.
If the pattern from the first three visits by Chow continues, then BYU is due to deliver a big beatdown. If that is the case, it would be the Warriors’ third ugly loss this season. Hawaii lost to then-no. 1 ranked USC 49-10 in the season opener. Just last Saturday, the Nevada Wolf Pack ran all over the Warriors for a 69-24 win.
The Hawaii offense is struggling just as much as its defense. Although Hawaii scored a 54-2 win over Lamar September 15, the offense only gained 369 yards of total offense. On the season, Hawaii is ranked 99th nationally with 197.3 passing yards per game, and 89th with 139.7 yards per game. The per rush and reception averages are very below acceptable at 3.7 and 9.7 yards, respectively.
Part of the reason the Hawaii offense has struggled is the absence of top wide receiver Billy Ray Stutzmann. Stutzmann had 910 yards receiving in 2011, but left game one with a hand injury. However, he is expected to return to the lineup against BYU.
BYU has offensive issues of its own to try and fix. The offensive line has not played well this season. As a result, the run game has not been satisfactory. With starting quarterback Riley Nelson nursing an ailing back, the offense has struggled the last two games. Nelson will probably miss the Hawaii game, and true freshman Taysom Hill will take the reins. Hill has some nice skills and great potential, but he needs the help of a solid offensive line and strong rushing attack.
The BYU defense limited Hawaii to 299 yards last year when the two teams met. Thus far, the 2012 Cougar D is better than the 2011 version. They should have another strong showing this week, unless Chow has some tricks up his sleeve.
The key to the game for BYU will be to put Hill in situations where he can be successful. In other words, good game management. Solid protection from the offensive line and a good run game will take a lot of pressure off of Hill. He can have a good day throwing the ball as long as he isn’t bearing the entire burden of moving the ball and scoring points.
All-time series: BYU leads 20-8
Last: BYU won 41-20 (2011)
Streak: BYU won 2
KICKOFF: 6:00 PM (Mountain Time)
TV: ESPN, watchESPN.com
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