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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 6, 2001

Seasoned soph Chang at home as starting QB

 • Game could be counted in bowl bid
 •  Warriors pick Stutzmann, Iosua as team's captains

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Before the young man was The Man, before his words were sound bites and his life became an ESPN Magazine story, Tim Chang was as green as his University of Hawai'i football helmet.

University of Hawai'i coach June Jones will depend on Tim Chang to run the Warriors' run-and-shoot offense.

Advertiser library photo • Nov. 25, 2000

In Chang's first few games as a freshman quarterback last year, the huddles often were mass confusion.

"He was calling plays backwards," UH slotback Craig Stutzmann recalled. "He was calling some counts differently. The formations were a bit off. The receivers had to help him. We would call some of the plays for him."

Through most of last year's preseason training, the Warriors' offense was built around rifle-armed Nick Rolovich, who started the first two games. But when Chang replaced Rolovich, the receivers had to make the adjustment from "Rolo's cannon to my little water pistol," Chang said, smiling.

"That makes a difference," Chang added. The receivers had "to wait for passes or come back to the ball, stuff like that. I'm glad they made the adjustment. I'm glad they helped me out."

But as Saturday's season opener approaches, there no longer are questions as to who is in charge. The offense might be a partnership, but the 6-foot-2 Chang clearly is the majority owner. Chang's growth is found in his jersey — at 205 pounds, 15 more than last season, he now wears a size-46 — and the ease in which he reads from the menu of offensive plays.

"I can't believe he was a rookie last year," Stutzmann said. "He's bigger and stronger. His passes have a little more oomph."

The Warriors' run-and-shoot offense is a speed test. In 3.5 seconds, in roughly the time it takes to get to "J" in the Alphabet Song, Chang will read the defensive coverage, maneuver behind the wall of blockers, sort through five passing routes and unleash a pass.

Then he will do that 50 more times.

"We're on the same page," Harris said, noting that Chang appears to instinctively know when a receiver will break open. "He always puts the ball in the right spot."

Chang said the Warriors use only 50 percent of the plays in the UH playbook, the same as last season, but now have a much greater understanding of them.

"When you've been at it for so long, you're bound to get some familiarization of it," Chang said.

UH has tweaked the offense. Last year, the wideouts usually ran streak patterns while the slotbacks ran curls. Now, slotbacks are going deep, wideouts are running slants and the running back is looking for the puka in the defense.

"We like to test things out," Chang said. "Scientists never finalize anything without testing. We want to run guys here and there, spread things out, so defenses don't see us doing the same things over and over. We like to think of ourselves as football scientists."

Said Stutzmann: "He's doing really well. He looks comfortable back there. He understands us. Sometimes he knows where we're going before we do."

Stutzmann said Chang has earned football's highest badge of honor: a nickname. "We call him 'Grim,' as in 'Tim Grim,'" Stutzmann said. "I'm not sure how he got the nickname, but I think it's because he's supposed to be the Grim Reaper for defenses."