Hawaii coach Norm Chow endures difficult first season as a head coach

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2012 Idaho Statesman

Hawaii football coach Norm Chow’s first season running his own program couldn’t be going much worse.

The Warriors are 1-7 — they beat Lamar of the Football Championship Subdivision — and their losses have all been by 12 points or more.

He inherited a program that was slipping and has endured a rash of injuries, particularly on the defensive line.

“I’m not sure that head-coaching is all that it’s cracked up to be,” said Chow, who was an offensive assistant for nearly 40 years. “You deal with a lot of issues that as an assistant coach you didn’t have to deal with. Everyone needs an answer — and they need it now. But it’s been fun. … I admire head coaches like Chris (Petersen) that maintain that level-headedness and do a good job year in and year out. I admire and I envy those guys, because it’s not an easy job.”

Chow says his team is outmanned but he has appreciated the players’ effort. Only five players have started every game this season, 28 players have made the first start of their careers and five true freshmen have cracked the starting lineup.

“We fight till the end,” Chow said. “My whole story to them is I don’t want you to look up at the scoreboard. … We’re beat up. We obviously have a tough time matching up physically with Boise State. That’s obvious — just look at the tape. But the guys are very willing. … That’s all I’m looking for.

“… I’m not a guy who looks three, four or five years down the road. It’s a complete change (in the program). How long it takes, who knows. We’re just going to go week by week. We have a plan. We have a vision. Can we get there? We’ll see.”

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Chow said he was sorry to hear that Boise State defensive tackle Mike Atkinson got hurt last week.

“I love to watch that kid on tape,” he said. “I don’t want to play against him, but I certainly enjoy watching him play.”

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The one area where Hawaii seems equipped to challenge Boise State is on special teams. The Warriors rank 18th in the nation in kickoff returns at 25.8 yards and 37th in punt returns at 10.6 yards. They also rank second in the Mountain West in kickoff coverage. Defensive back John Hardy-Tuliau has seven career blocked kicks (three punts, two field goals, two PATs), including two this season.

Kickoff returner Mike Edwards is 12th nationally with an average of 29.3 yards. He has scored twice.

“They’re good on teams,” Boise State special teams coach Scott Huff said. “It will be another good challenge.”

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All three of Boise State’s special teams errors last week were small mistakes that turned into huge plays.

On San Diego State’s kickoff return, Boise State set up its coverage well and had two players in position to make a tackle. Both missed Colin Lockett, who went 100 yards for the score.

On the blocked punt, personal protector J.C. Percy said he slipped. He missed his block just enough to allow the block.

And on the swinging-gate two-point play, the snap was a little high and too hard. Matt Miller wasn’t able to catch it, ruining the play. Boise State likely would have scored the two points with a clean snap.

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Boise State was out-coached

Boise State was out-coached and out-played. This doesn't happen often, but sadly it seems to happen about once per season.