So, the season is now upon us.
Conquest Chronicles did a Q&A with Jeremy from Mountain West Connection.
These are our questions and their answers. I will link up our answers to their questions later...
1. Much like everybody else, the oddsmakers clearly think this game will be a blowout as USC is favored by almost 40 points. Are there any tricks Norm Chow can pull out of his bag to keep this game somewhat close or pull off a huge upset?
First off I think the 40 point spread is just way too much no matter how good USC is projected to be, however I do expect USC to pull away and win quite easily. Well, unfortunately for Hawaii they lost their starting quarterback from 2011 with Bryant Moniz gone and Duke transfer Sean Schroeder winning the gig after coming in just for fall camp, so that can not be good that a transfer who did not play at a low-level ACC schools wins the starting job.
Chow likes to throw the ball, as we have seen at all of his stops as an offensive coordinator, but it is a more pro-style set and not the four- and five-wide receiver sets that Hawaii is notoriously known for. The one strength on this Hawaii team that fits with Chow's scheme is that running back Joey Iosefa is the teams returning rusher from last year where he had 548 yards and averaged five yards a carry.
Also, I think it would be wise for Chow to do what the team did last year by getting the ball to wide receiver David Graves on sweeps or end arounds, because last year he averaged 5.1 yards per carry and five touchdowns on 30 touches. I guess keep USC defense off balance by mixing in a lot of mix directions, trick plays and making first downs. Sounds easy but the offense needs to keep the defense guessing and then they might be able to have some success.
2. Speaking of Norm Chow: He makes his return to USC for the first time as a head coach. How do you think he will fare in his head coaching debut against Lane Kiffin and Co.?
It will be very tough for Chow to be successful in his first game back playing USC. He knows what he is getting into and realizes it will be a very tough challenge to keep up offensively. Watching how Chow was able to make Utah's offense respectable with Jon Hays who came from Division II Nebraska-Omaha, makes me think that he should be able come up with a game plan that at least early on could cause USC a little trouble. Also, what helps Chow is that he is more familiar with USC since he has coached against them the past four seasons. Ultimately he will not get his first head coaching win on Saturday.
3. For those uninitiated with the MWC teams, where does Hawaii stand? What's the outlook on its season? Follow-up: does Hawaii still feature the pass-heavy offense that made Colt Brennan and Timmy Chang nationally recognized names?
It does not look good, Hawaii is projected to finish seventh in the Mountain West when looking at all of the major preseason magazines. They are probably going to be more like Colorado State than Boise State, and that has a lot to do with a new quarterback, losing two of their top three wide receivers and having a new system. Hawaii will struggle to make a bowl game, and if they achieve that then in my opinion they will have overachieved. The offense will be changing to a more pro-style attack and there will be a fullback and tight end along with some I-formation sets. However, those familiar with Chow's history as an offensive coordinator the passing game will be heavily featured, but not just as much as in prior years.
4. What's changed since the Trojans last faced the Rainbows?
Two new head coaches is the main thing to look at as is the run and shoot is long gone. Chow will still sling the ball around, but the offense will be more of a pro-style offense. As mentioned in the prior question the offense will have tight ends, fullback and multiple running back sets. The offensive coordinator Tommy Lee has not coached since he was the head coach at Montana Western, and that was five years ago so that is a big change.
5. Who's the one key offensive and defensive player Trojan fans should look out for? Why?
Offense it has to be quarterback Sean Schroeder because he came in so quickly and won the starting job. Chow knows his quarterbacks since he has coached multiple Heisman Trophy, so one has to take into account Chow's history of making quarterbacks look very good. Even though not many know how good Schroeder will be he is their key offensive player.
As for defense it is LB Art Laurel who had 13.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He is a beast and can get into the backfield to make plays and stop a play before it begins. Not sure how successful he can be against better USC athletes, but he should not be over looked by any means.