Crowton Comments on Chow Then & Now

<b>Gary Crowton</b> has seen up close how <b>Norm Chow's</b> excellent offensive mind works. The year was 1982 and Crowton, with a full head of hair, was a student Graduate Assistant (GA) with BYU's football team. Chow was the main man in charge of the Cougars offense.

"When I was here, Norm was just in charge of everything. The offensive line would go with Roger French, but Norm would bring everyone else in and they would game plan. I wasn't here during the fall, but I was here during one spring to watch how he does things."

He liked what he saw.

"He has a real good feel (for coaching) and has a lot of experience. He's also had a lot of good coaches in the past that he's learned from. He's been around some good offensive coaches and he does a good job. What Chow does well is that he'll do things on offense that compliment each other. He'll put a lot of good plays together. He'll run a quick draw, followed by a quick drop-back or a screen. That's what he does well."

After he graduated from BYU in 1983, Crowton moved on to bigger and better opportunities – just as Chow has now as USC's celebrated offensive coordinator. Both men are in a better place now where their talents are fully utilized and appreciated. Crowton heads a football program he was never recruited to play for (played instead at Snow College and Colorado State) and Chow is now deservedly the highest paid assistant college football coach in America.

But if anyone is thinking that BYU coaches or players are intimidated about playing at USC after their defensive onslaught of then No. 5 ranked Auburn, they are mistaken.

In fact, the feeling is quite the opposite. A good number of Cougar players are from California and this is THE game they have been thinking about since spring ball. They know this is the "show me" game for all who have downplayed, discredited or dismissed this BYU team after a horrendous season record last year.

"We're not going to be intimidated going in there. We're in a great situation here at BYU. Our attendance at games is very similar. BYU has averaged more in attendance than they have at times. I don't think intimidation will be a factor, we're used to playing in front of big crowds," Crowton said.

Crowton et al know full well what they are up against. "They have a very athletic football team. They're big on the defensive line and they have great speed for their size. They're not the biggest team. That No. 99 on the defensive line is outstanding and No. 84 is outstanding. No. 90, who they bring in on pass rushes, is so athletic. They're a very athletic football team, so we have a work cut out for us."

Noted for its offensive prowess and fireworks, it is BYU's new 3-3-5 defense under defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall's guidance that has Norm Chow and his assistants up late trying to figure out and anticipate.

"Bronco likes to play a lot of players," Crowton continued. "It's mostly based on effort in practice. If guys put forth effort in practice the week before, then they're going to play in the game. It keeps us a little fresher and keeps us from getting as many injuries. I think it's a good way to reward players in practice by giving them more playing time."

In the weekly USC coach's press conference, Chow today made specific reference to BYU's new defensive look.

"This game is important… The tough part of this game is they run an unorthodox defensive scheme. It's taken us hours. We've spent late nights figuring it out," Chow said.

"They play with three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs. The five secondary people line up straight across the board and run to different spots. It's tough to read the coverage," Chow continued, adding, "It's a defense that seems to be gaining some popularity… It's a coverage deal. The five guys are more coverage guys. The middle guy is diving into the line of scrimmage a lot like a middle backer. It's confusing and it'll be tough on our kids, but we're trying to get it squared away."

In an attempt to clarify his thoughts and feelings about coaching at BYU for 27 years without being selected as LaVell Edwards' heir apparent as head coach, Chow said: "People can say what you want about BYU. I enjoyed my time there. Everyone in the coaching profession understands that you won't be in it for very long. You've gotta move. My wife and I opted not to move. We wanted to raise our family as best we could.

"The time came when we had to move. I did not sit around waiting for the head coaching job. I was promised all kinds of things if I stayed. Administrations change, people change and we moved on. There are no bitter or tough feelings about it. I still have a home there (Provo). I enjoyed my time. I had great relations with my superiors. It was time to go. I realized it was time to go. Nothing more, nothing less. When the A.D. left, he called three people the night before: The basketball coach, LaVell and me. At that point in time, it was obvious it was time to move," Chow said.

Old friendships and relationships aside, Crowton noted the importance of playing well against USC this week.

"You have to play well. We recruit Los Angeles and we've recruited there for a while," Crowton continued. "Going head to head against Georgia Tech will be a good situation for us in regards to recruiting down there. We also play that Georgia Military in the other JV game, so they'll be able to come up here and see our facilities and the beautiful setting that we have. It helps us to do well wherever we recruit."

With the Trojans domination of a veteran and expectedly strong Auburn offensive line, Crowton commented on the progress of BYU's relatively inexperienced offensive line that starts two freshmen.

"We just need to learn to be more physical when we get to our blocks. We're just learning the blocks, so we just need to get our pad level down and remember our technique; when to switch off when the defensive linemen twist off the line. All that will come with experience. They're young and they're going to get better."

Crowton said this year's "team has a good feel about it. There's chemistry there. They believe that if they work hard, then they'll be good. We had a good feeling in the locker room at halftime last week. We were down and we couldn't figure out why we were down, but the team wasn't frustrated. They just realized that they needed to do some things better. I liked that as a coach."

Behind the scenes, Crowton watches more film than many college head coaches. To wit: "I've watched every single game they (USC) played last year and I've watched the Auburn game now five times. I haven't watched their offense as much, but I've watched their defense very closely.

He joked that "I get a big kick out of it when people ask me if I'd had a chance to watch the Auburn game yet and if I think they're any good. I'm just like, ‘Yeah, they're pretty good, aren't they?"

For a variety of reasons, not the least being injuries, Crowton confided a significant change from last year's team preparation. "We're practicing the 2s more than we did last year. I believe that our 2s didn't grow as much as they could have last year because we were practicing the 1s so much. When they had to play, they weren't as prepared as they could have been. We're doing more with the screens, options and play-action this year in practice."

However, as important as the USC game is for national credibility, prestige and recruiting, Crowton squarely has his gaze focused on his top priority to win the MWC title.

"You can't put so much on this game that it affects your conference play. I thought we put a lot of energy into the first few games of last season and when we played in the conference, it was a letdown. Our guys will get up for those big games, but they have to keep things in perspective because you have to win your conference. None of it matters unless you win your conference. You can't get into the BCS without winning your conference first," Crowton said.

The Cougar head coach also made an interesting admission today. "I thought that from a play selection and some of the trickery and all that, that I did too much of that in the Syracuse game and the Hawaii game last year. So when we went into conference play and they had already seen all that, it didn't help us.

"I'm glad that we won those games, but I just don't think that we kept things in perspective and this year I'm going to try and do that. I'm trying to learn from the master, Coach (LaVell) Edwards. He always said that you had to win the conference," Crowton explained.

Finally, Crowton confirmed that true freshman linebacker Matt Ah You will not be redshirt this year as he indicated earlier.

"We'll probably redshirt Matt after his mission now. He's a special teams player and, if somebody gets hurt, he'll play there at linebacker. We had him as a back-up for the special teams, so when he didn't get in we played him in the JV game (against Dixie State College last Saturday)."

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