Thursday, August 09, 2012

2012 Mountain West Preview

The countdown has reached 21 days. That's right, just three weeks until kickoff. We can hold on that long. In the preview, Statistically Speaking gives you the breakdown of the Mountain West. Don't get too comfy with the conference layout though. Membership will be changing again next year as arriviste Boise State along with San Diego State pack their bags and head east. To see last year's Mountain West preview, click here.

Norm Chow: Offensive Genius?
After years of waiting, Norm Chow finally has the keys to his very own football team. At the age of 66, Chow will make his debut as a head coach when his Hawaii Warriors take on Southern Cal on September 1st. Thanks to Chow's time at Southern Cal (offensive coordinator there from 2001-2004) in addition to his stint at NC State tutoring Philip Rivers (2000) and a lifetime as an assistant at BYU (served the Cougars in some capacity from 1973 to 1999), Chow has developed the reputation as an offensive guru. However, since returning to the college game after a three-year stint as the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans (2005-2007), his guru label may be wearing thin. Chow returned to southern California in 2008, but this time it was as offensive coordinator of the cross-town UCLA Bruins. Chow spent three seasons there before become Utah's offensive coordinator in 2011. The table below summarizes his team's offensive capabilities based on SDPI. For the uninitiated, SDPI takes into account how many yards a team gains against their conference opponents. A positive ranking is good. A negative ranking is bad. The number represents how many standard deviations the offense was above or below-average when compared to the average team in the conference.
It doesn't take a master statistician to read that table. Chow's team consistently ranked in the bottom half of the Pac-10 and later the Pac-12 in terms of gaining yards, with a bottoming out in Utah this past season. However, sometimes yardage totals don't tell the whole story. Let's look at how many offensive touchdowns his teams scored against their Pac-10/12 brethren since 2008.
Again Chow's charges rank consistently below average. In fact, in 36 conference games across four seasons, his teams averaged less than two offensive touchdowns per game (1.92). Obviously that is far from an impressive number.
Most of Chow's reputation as an offensive guru likely stemmed from the talent of the players he got to coach. Philip Rivers, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Carson Palmer, Mike Williams, and Keary Colbert, were all NFL-quality players. Chow will not have top-shelf at Hawaii, so it is unlikely he will be able to produce a top-shelf offense.

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