Tom Smart, Deseret News
If you got Norm Chow, Dave Baldwin and Brandon Doman in a room to share tales of woe, who'd take us into overtime?
Who'd receive the most sympathy? Or scorn? Who deserves the most praise? Who'd best sell his case for do-overs or mulligans? Who has been hit worst by injuries? Who had the greatest expectations and biggest disappointments? If in need, who you gonna call?
Well, Utah State's offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin likely has the most to hang his hat upon in the numbers game.
BYU's rookie offensive coordinator Doman is the only one with a bowl-eligible team at 6-3.
Chow has been given the biggest challenge with injury issues since Jordan Wynn went down, as did two offensive linemen and a top receiver.
Statistics often lie. They don't take into account the strength of schedules or who has faced the toughest defense. But Baldwin has the better numbers.
Utah State has the No. 6 ranked rushing offense behind the talented Robert Turbin, The Aggies average 278 yards on the ground, and are averaging 36 points a game, much better than Utah's 23 or BYU's 27. Because of this strength, Baldwin doesn't have to expose his quarterback to very many risky passes. Yet, mainly because of the Aggie defensive breakdowns in fourth quarters, USU is just 2-5.
Chow has been forced to go to a rookie QB with a one-man rushing attack to back him up. The result is a lot of turnovers and a disappointing 4-4 record, the 88th ranked rush offense, 100th pass offense, 112th ranked total offense and 118th pass efficiency air attack. He has the best excuses of the trio.
Doman got everyone excited in August with a new offense and Jake Heaps' arm. An under-center, pro-set scheme, it blew up before the season began when Bronco Mendenhall unleashed his blitz packages one day in drills and everything came to a halt. The Cougars couldn't block for it, couldn't run with it and then Heaps lost his job for a duck-chuck-and-run scheme led by the gutsy Riley Nelson.
The Cougars have the 63rd rush offense, 59th pass offense, 65th total offense, 85th pass efficiency and 68th scoring offense. But facing Idaho, New Mexico State and Hawaii will get Doman's squad to eight or nine wins, possibly 10 with a bowl victory. On paper, it looks like mission accomplished.
Baldwin, who put up 38 points on the road against the defending national champion, Auburn, has that one shining deal that stands out above every other item on this agenda. His offense ranks 26th with a 450-yard-per-game average. The Aggies are 24th in scoring. Putting points on the board has not been an issue in Logan.
But which offensive situation is fool's gold and which is genuine? Who has done the most with the goods at hand? Who is the better offensive coordinator in 2011?
Both Chow and Doman have had to scrap and rebuild on the run, one by necessity, the other by choice.
Doman will end up with the best record when all is said and done. Is he to be credited with reinventing everything on the run? Or with just lucking out with questionable opponents?
Baldwin has had the luxury of Turbin, who is the nation's 13th leading rusher averaging 117 yards per game. That's a rock-solid cornerstone that he hasn't overburdened, yet it hasn't turned into victories.
The Aggies should be bowl eligible right now if given mulligans on about four or five plays.
Can this coaching gig be that tenuous? Really?
Can one injury, like that to Utah's Wynn, have that great of an impact on a football team? Or is Utah's Pac-12 challenge that huge?
Is BYU capable of beating a very, very good football team with its current scheme? It has not, so far.
If the Aggies had a fourth-quarter defense, would Baldwin be the hero it appears he is? Or has he had the most consistency because of, well, consistent bodies on the field, even with a freshman quarterback?
This is a great debate this season.
Who is the best offensive coordinator? The rookie Doman, the legendary Chow, or the much-traveled Baldwin?
This week's picks:
Alabama 28, LSU 24: Classic throw-down between giants this season. I'll go with the home team, roll 'Tide, roll.
Oregon 38, Washington 28: Steve Sarkisian will be hard-pressed to match points with Nike-town unless he can kill the clock with long possessions.
Arizona State 24, UCLA 17: The Sun Devils will tiptoe past the Bruin wreckage of a season.
California 21, Washington State 14: The Bears rebound from a disappointing loss to out-physical the Cougars.
Arizona 17, Utah 14: I don't' think John White can carry the offense on the road against the Wildcats, who have a legit QB in Nick Foles.
Stanford 42, Oregon State 20: Andrew Luck will have no let-down from that triple overtime win over USC.
Hawaii 32, Utah State 28: That far away, that many time zones? It will do no favors for USU's fourth quarter woes.
Last week 6-2; overall 54-19 (.739)
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