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Ready To Run

Chris Foster from the LA Times sat down with CRN and Norm Chow for a little interview. The result is delicious.

CRN talked about how he is working with Chow to devise an offensive scheme that is centered on running and protecting the ball, which will bleed our opponents to death:

* Question: Have you settled on an offense?

Neuheisel: "We're formulating a scheme. I don't know if it has the moniker that all the trendy offenses have now. I certainly wouldn't call it Spread or the West Coast. I think where Norm is centered on is just being able to run the ball and protect the ball. It sounds overly simplistic, but if you can do both those things you can force defenses into a position where now big plays are available.

"That doesn't necessarily sound exciting. 'Run the ball and protect the ball' sounds very conservative. But I think if you can do both of those things successfully and commit to both of those things, the excitement then comes because the field now opens because you have to stop the run. You will bleed to death if you don't stop run."

Chow: "We're going to run the ball. To win in this game, in any league, you have to run the ball. I don't think we're going to revolutionize football. We're going to continue to do things that [Neuheisel] and I know best.

"I think now it is a matter of what skills what kids can do. We're not going to ask our kids to do something they are not capable of doing. Right now we put in base stuff that will fit just about anything, then we'll wait and see."
The two coaches talked about how they share similar offensive philosophies:
* Q: Have there been any differences in philosophy between you two?

Neuheisel: "It's been interesting to me how few there have been. Sometimes you have this picture of the 'geniuses' in the game as being, 'My way and only my way.' But the ones who are the real geniuses are the ones who realize that other people have ways to do these things that might be better. They are open to those kind of suggestions.

"I smiled as the first conversation went on because it sounded like I was talking to [former UCLA offensive coordinator] Homer [Smith]. Homer and Norm have a lot of similarities. They have gone their own path. But in terms of their beliefs and the core of how they teach it, they do things in a unifying way."

Chow: "As long as there are two people there are always going to be differences. That's good. I told him, 'I made a policy that I would not go to work for an offensive head coach.' I have only been at a few places, but they have always been defensive guys. I broke my rule going with him because he is such a good guy and very willing to work together. Philosophically, we're very much alike."
You can read the whole interview here.

One of the things that made the Trojan offense under Chow so deadly and efficient was that Chow kept everything simple. If I can remember correctly Trojans basically ran 8-9 base plays under Chow. But it was the unpredictability of how those plays were sequenced that threw their opponents off. More on Chow's simplistic approach from Wayne Drehs of ESPN, in a article he wrote few years ago when Chow was over at Southern Cal:
Norm Chow remembers clearly the day he learned that college football players were of a different breed.

It was a handful of summers ago when Chow, then the offensive coordinator at BYU, was recording the voice overs for a video playbook each player was to study. Realizing the boredom his players would face watching the video, Chow inserted a message toward the end of the tape: any player still watching should call Coach Chow for a $100 reward.

"And guess how many guys called me. Just guess," Chow recalls. "One. And he was the center, the all-American boy who went on to medical school, married the cheerleader, all that stuff. Now what does that tell you?"

It told Chow to simplify. And that's just what he's done this summer at USC, installing his wide-open, pass-happy offense with a playbook about half as thick as the one used by former coach Paul Hackett. Instead of worrying about precise footwork and perfect mechanics, Chow is instructing junior quarterback Carson Palmer to merely relax and find the open man.
I imagine Olson et al. are going to hear the same message this spring.

I think it will take a while for our offense to gel under these guys. Our best RBs - Bell and Carter - are going to sit out most of spring practice. We will have to see how Dean and Knox fit in when they arrive in Westwood late summer. There is also the uncertainty around how Ben Olson will adapt to his third OC in three years. Cowan is out as he will be rehabbing from surgery. And Craft will just try to fit it as he comes in as a transfer. Then there is the question of rebuilding an offensive line which has underperformed in last two years. So I wouldn't be expecting any magical results next season.

However, just from hearing these two you can sense how confident and secure these guys feel about their vision wrt to what they want to do with our offense. We didn't get that sense coming out of our football program last five years or since the days of Homer Smith.