This article by ESPN.com's Pat Forde outlines the success Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian have had this year replacing Norm Chow as offensive coordinators. I touched on this earlier this month and I'm still not convinced the USC offense is better off, or even no worse off, without Chow. Forde discusses the major differences between the Chow offense and the "Sarkiffian" offense. Emphasizing the running game and shifting the passing game slightly more vertical have been positive developments. However, it's the other difference that concerns me:
"Norm had an uncanny ability to call plays," Sarkisian said. "We may not have always known what was coming, but it worked. Especially in big games, he was willing to make calls nobody else would make.
"I think we're a little bit more on the structured side. We know what calls are coming. We know by the play sheet what to call, depending on the situation. The quarterback knows what's being called by the specific situation."
Doesn't that mean once an opposing defensive coordinator figures out your system, he may have a pretty good idea what's coming next? It's not the day-to-day coaching in practice that I'm not convinced has been replaced; it's the play-calling. Don't get me wrong, I have no complaints about the Kiffin-Sarkisian combo this year. I just think it's too early to pass judgment on Norm Chow's replace-ability.