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Utah offense boasts veteran leader in Chow

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Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011

The streak dates to 1982 — Steve Young's junior year at Brigham Young — and will continue Saturday at Heinz Field when Utah plays Pitt.

Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow said he has called every play for each team he has coached in that span.

"I don't know if that is something to brag about or (complain) about," he said, laughing.

In 30 years of calling plays for five college teams and the NFL's Tennessee Titans, Chow, 65, has seen nearly every defense that can be configured by 11 men. He said the sophistication injected into the game by larger and increasingly imaginative coaching staffs make his job tougher than ever.

"That's why (Pitt coach Todd) Graham is driving me crazy with his third-down package," Chow said.

"Hmmm," Graham said when informed of Chow's assessment. "We were here very late (Tuesday) night working on Coach Chow's third-down offense, so it's probably the same type deal."

Chow said Pitt's third-down defense is a lot more complex than what the Panthers previously were playing, calling it "NFL-like." He said he wants to be careful attacking Pitt's secondary.

"(Free safety Jarred Holley) is a heck of a player," he said.

Saturday's game won't be the first time Graham and Chow have met. When Graham was coach at Allen (Texas) High School in 1995, he invited Chow, then calling plays for BYU, to speak to his staff. His words did not go unheeded.

"I still have the tapes in my office," Graham said. "There is some influence, even in our (current) offense."

Chow has coached Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at Southern Cal and Ty Detmer at BYU — in addition to Young, BYU's Jim McMahon and N.C. State's Philip Rivers.

"He is one of the smartest guys in the business," Graham said. "His concepts of the passing game and what he has done in the passing game are all over college football. He was the guy who was the trend-setter with the West Coast offense."

Graham said Chow's oblique stretch offense, which is designed to stretch the defense and crack open vulnerable seams, is similar to what he is trying to accomplish at Pitt.

"He has influenced people all over the country," Graham said.

Chow was the offensive coordinator at UCLA the past three seasons, but coach Rick Neuheisel reorganized his staff after the Bruins finished 4-8 and 100th in total offense last year. At the same time, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who played for Chow at BYU, called his former running backs coach seeking a recommendation on an offensive line coach.

"It became apparent he was looking for a change," Whittingham said, and Chow quickly had a new job.

Utah has struggled to a 2-3 start and is 92nd in the nation in total offense this season after losing quarterback Jordan Wynn to a shoulder injury. Nonetheless, Chow's presence helps Utah on and off the field.

"He is a recruiting figurehead," Whittingham said. "Everybody in the country knows Norm Chow."




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