RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Hawaii's Jason Whieldon was chased by Appalachian State's Daniel Taylor last night. Whieldon was 21-for-35 for 359 yards, and three touchdowns and two picks.
walks the walk
Rare is the day when Hawaii quarterback Jason Whieldon doesn't hear about Jeremiah Cockheran's greatness as a receiver.
As Cockheran's roommate, Whieldon gets a regular earful on what the Warrior senior wideout can do on the football field.
So when Whieldon got his opportunity to start last night's season opener against Appalachian State, he made sure to give his roommate the chance to back up the talk.
In his first Division I start, Whieldon passed for 359 yards and three touchdowns to lead Hawaii to a 40-17 victory over the Mountaineers at Aloha Stadium.
Cockheran caught seven passes for 154 yards and was on the receiving end of all three of Whieldon's touchdown tosses.
"Every day I hear how great he is and how he's the best," Whieldon said after the game. "He doesn't lack in the confidence department. He played a great game, he made some huge plays. He's a great receiver."
Whieldon started in place of Tim Chang, who served a one-game suspension for a violation of the Western Athletic Conference's six-credit rule last year.
Any jitters Whieldon may have had coming into the game were chased away by a nearly perfect first quarter in which he completed his first eight passes.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Hawaii players and coach June Jones celebrated their win over Appalachian State last night.
"I was a little nervous, but I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be," Whieldon said. "I felt really prepared for this game. Once the first couple of plays are under your belt the butterflies go away."
He misfired on just five throws in the first half and finished the game with 21 completions on 35 attempts. He was relieved by Se'e Poumele midway through the fourth quarter. Sophomore Jeff Rhode closed out the game behind center.
On the game's first play from scrimmage, Whieldon found Cockheran running alone along the Warriors' sideline for a 35-yard catch-and-run that showcased Whieldon's comfort in the pocket.
"That actually was not who he would normally go to, but the coverage dictated that," UH quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison said. "That was real big on his part."
"There's no better way to start out than that, Jason to Cockheran," Cockheran said. "That's the way to do it."
Whieldon completed two more passes on a drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown run by John West.
On Hawaii's next drive, Whieldon went 3-for-3 and threw an 18-yard scoring pass to Cockheran. The duo connected for two more touchdowns, a 54-yarder in which two Appalachian State defensive backs knocked each other off the play, and a 35-yarder early in the third quarter.
Cockheran said he and Whieldon talked about what to look for in the ASU defense in the days leading up to the game.
"He told me if I'm open in certain spots on certain patterns and certain routes he's going to hit me, and that's what he did tonight," Cockheran said. "He saw some openings, he read the defense perfectly and made the plays."
Said Whieldon: "The great thing about the receiver corps is any game all of them can have a breakout game. Any one of those guys can have the type of game (Cockheran) had today and that's what's so unique and special about this offense."
Cockheran also saved Whieldon an interception in the second quarter, knocking the ball away from ASU cornerback Jay Lyles on a deep throw into the end zone.
Whieldon knows his opportunities might be limited with Chang slated to return to the starting lineup when the Warriors face USC on Sept. 13. But for one night the senior certainly didn't look like a backup.
"He showed what he could do when he had the chance to do it," Cockheran said. "He went out there and shined tonight. I wouldn't have had the game I had if not for Jason.
"I told him it's time to shine, it's time to prove himself. I think he might be going in the first round after this game."