UH quarterback Chang expects to play next week
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
University of Hawai'i quarterback Tim Chang, who has missed nine days of practice because of a broken right pinkie, vowed to play in Saturday's football season opener against Eastern Illinois.
Although recent X-rays were inconclusive and his throwing hand was heavily bandaged yesterday, Chang said, "Progress is being made. I'm still looking forward to starting in the opener."
Dr. Robert Atkinson, who specializes in hand injuries, is not scheduled to examine Chang until tomorrow, at the earliest.
Dr. Andrew Nichols, the team's physician, said X-rays taken last week showed neither significant healing nor further damage. But Nichols said it was encouraging that the broken bone had not become dislodged, a major concern at this stage of rehabilitation.
Chang said his pinkie is not sore.
"It's more of an irritating thing," he said. "There's isn't any pain I can't bear."
Chang, a third-year sophomore from St. Louis School, said he hopes to begin practicing Wednesday.
"I need a couple of days to practice before the game," he said. "I'm still confident I can make it."
Of the season opener, UH coach June Jones said, "I'm expecting Timmy to be there."
If Chang is unavailable, Jones said, "I have confidence in Jason Whieldon. He's getting better and better every day."
Whieldon, who played the past two seasons at Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif., has trained with the first team during Chang's recovery.
Whieldon became familiar with the offense during spring practice. Jones implemented the entire offense during the first week of training camp.
"It's all about reps, and the reps are coming," Whieldon said. "It helps to go against our defense every day. Our defense knows our (offensive) plays inside-out, and if we're still able to complete some plays, that means we're getting better."
Said Jones: "All of those snaps are adding up. I can tell by the way he's throwing that he's more aware of what's happening in the offense. Until he does it in a game, you never know, but I think he'll be OK."
Yesterday, the Warriors were relatively upbeat as they broke training camp. Jones had eased the intensity during the last three days of training camp he staged a pool party Friday and the team's talent show was scheduled for last night and the Warriors now begin to prepare for Eastern Illinois. Tomorrow, UH begins single morning practices.
"I think we're ending (training) camp at the right time," defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. "We looked at the things we wanted to see what we were going to experiment with and we got a good look at the players we wanted to play at different positions. We're happy with what we've seen at this point."
But Lempa said the expected depth on defense never materialized. The UH coaches had hoped to enter training camp with two or three ready-to-go players at each defensive position. But highly regarded defensive tackle John Siofele was killed in a car crash in July, and two defensive linemen did not meet the eligibility requirements to play this season. UH also is awaiting clarification on the eligibility status of freshman defensive back A.J. Martinez and junior-college transfer Matt Faga.
"We don't have as much depth as we thought we would have," Lempa said. "We had some injuries. Once they happen, you realize when the other guy steps in, it's not as good as you thought it was. ... We hope and try to be two across the board every year, but we're a little short of that right now."
Notes: Individual-game tickets for UH football go on sale tomorrow at the Aloha Stadium Box Office (9 a.m.-5 p.m.). "Super Rooter" tickets may be purchased at the Stan Sheriff Center Box Office (8 a.m.-4 p.m.) or UH Campus Center. Tickets are priced at $19 and $15 for Eastern Illinois, $21 and $16 for Western Athletic Conference games, $23 and $17 for games against Cincinnati and San Diego State, and $28 and $21 for the game against Alabama. There are discounts for students, faculty and senior citizens. Tickets also may be purchased by calling Ticket Plus at (808) 526-4400, or the Stadium Charge Line at 484-1122 on O'ahu or toll free at 1-800-291-3999. Only MasterCard and Visa will be accepted, and a user fee will be charged per ticket.