PROVO — Norm Chow was the first Hawaii Warrior off the field after his second shutout at LaVell Edwards Stadium in four visits as an opposing coach.
Following the customary handshake with BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall Friday night after his Hawaii squad lost 47-0, Chow briskly walked to the locker room as former Cougar tight end Chad Lewis chased him down for a handshake.
Hard to blame the guy for a quick exit. It was ugly.
While Chow's last visit to Provo was a triumphant 54-10 thumping of the Cougars in University of Utah colors, this trip was a lot like his experience wearing UCLA Bruin powder blue in 2008: His offense produced a goose egg like UCLA's 59-0 defeat to BYU that year.
This is a far different face than folks are used to seeing from Chow, a one-time hopeful candidate to succeed legendary LaVell Edwards in 2000.
On this field, he's used to seeing big-time performances like he witnessed a year ago with Utah. This is the place BYU knocked off defending champion Miami, took care of business against Penn State and others. It's a place he helped produce an undefeated season for the Cougars in 1984.
It would be nice if someday BYU's administration would honor him during one of these games for his 27 years of service back in the day. But the parting was uneasy at the end of it all.
Chow rode into Provo Friday on a lame mount. His Warriors were 27-point underdogs and lost by 47. And they looked bad in the process.
Chow told reporters he was disappointed in Hawaii's performance — he expected more. Although he lost two defensive linemen in the first seven minutes and later lost two offensive linemen, Chow said he would give no excuses, nor did he want his team to give any for the loss, the third in four tries this season with him as head coach.
"This is a big-boy business. There are no excuses. You learn and you go on and you work to get better," he said. "That's all there is to it and that's all there is to say."
Chow did say he thought his team, a 69-24 loser to Nevada last week, came out flat and never got any traction. "You can't do that against a good football team like we played tonight."
Shutouts are a new thing for Chow. He never had one in Provo when he roamed the sidelines and took a seat in the press box at BYU during his 27 years here. It was new for the Warriors too. The last time a defense shut out Hawaii was in 1998.
Chow's first gig as a head coach is a tough one. Hawaii is a very young team and its defense came in ranked 116th in the country. It is a unit that doesn't tackle, doesn't cover very well and fails to make big plays.
BYU's offense, which had to shake up its line this week, installed a new quarterback before the game and lost its best runner to date, Michael Alisa, in the first half, was a tsunami for Hawaii's defense.
The Cougars gained 396 yards on the ground, 540 in total offense and almost doubled its season average output.
Chow, the great offensive guru, came with no defense.
With that handicap, plus the fact his offense faced a BYU defense that is fast gaining acclaim nationally, Chow didn't have a chance this time around. That his two starting defensive ends Geordon Handhano and Siasau Matagiese were carted off the field in the first seven minutes made a tough task even tougher.
"Very disappointed, but there is no excuses. I hope our guys continue to play hard. This is the first time I thought our team did not play well."
Chow said BYU freshman quarterback Tysom Hill played well and his staff knew he could run. "We didn't know who would start at quarterback," said Chow. Hill ended up with 143 rushing yards including a 68-yard touchdown.
When asked about running back Jamaal Williams, another BYU freshman who rushed for 155 yards, Chow said it wasn't about him or Hill. "It isn't about them. It's about us. Our lack of ability to tackle and lack of ability to move the ball on offense — it has nothing to do with them."
Chow refused to take any aspect of the game and make it an excuse. "None, not any whatsoever. It's all about us and what we need to do, learn from this."
Spoken like a veteran.
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