put Chang on top
of the mountain
The Hawaii quarterback receives
high praise from some of his
competitors in the conference
RENO, Nev. >> This town has not been kind to Tim Chang in the past. He quarterbacked Hawaii to losses here against Nevada in 2001 and 2003. But yesterday in a hotel convention room in Reno, Chang was unofficially crowned as one of the Western Athletic Conference's two best football players -- by the media and again by his peers.
An informal survey of 10 players representing their schools at the WAC Media Days yesterday indicates they agree with the journalists who voted Chang preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
Chang is the only one nearly all of them mentioned when asked to name the best one or two football players in the league.
"The most dangerous player in the conference is Timmy Chang. He comes out there every game and puts up big numbers," Rice offensive tackle Scott Mayhew said.
Among others mentioned were Tulsa quarterback James Kilian, Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar, Louisiana Tech running back Ryan Moats, Fresno State running back Dwayne Wright, Boise State linebacker Andy Avalos and Boise State safety Chris Carr.
Chang named Kilian, Pinegar and Rice receiver Marcus Battle.
"(Kilian) ran with such force against us," Chang said. "I remember Ikaika (UH linebacker Curnan) whacking him, really hard, several times. He would just stand up like nothing happened. Very tough."
Defenders who have tried to deal with Chang since his freshman season of 2000 are particularly impressed with his ability to throw the football and his mastery of the run-and-shoot offense.
"If I had to pick one it would be Timmy Chang. He's proven himself as a dominant passer in the WAC and all of college football," Tulsa safety Clint Rountree said. "He has great arm strength and the way he reads defenses makes him a special player."
Said Rice rover Terry Holley: "It's a tough call. But from a defensive back's standpoint, I have to say Chang at Hawaii. He plays smart. A lot of their stuff is on the fly, and we have to adjust. Even if we do adjust, he has the power and accuracy to get the ball into a tight spot."
San Jose State safety Josh Powell said he views Chang more as a challenge than a threat.
"Because of the offense they run, if you're a safety and you play against them, you should have a big game," Powell said.
Chang answered dozens of questions about being the WAC's marquee player yesterday. He said he is prepared for the pressure that will come with the countdown to breaking Ty Detmer's record of 15,031 career passing yards (he needs 2,218 to do it, and averages 320.35 per game).
"There are a lot of opinions about me," Chang said. "I just wish it was more on the team and not just me. I'm not doing anything without those other 10 guys right next to me, and the 11 guys playing on the other side of the ball."
The players were also asked who they think is the most intriguing coach in the league (other than their own). Fresno State's Pat Hill was mentioned the most, as even players from other teams take note of his inspirational style. Some also mentioned Hawaii's June Jones, Boise State's Dan Hawkins, UTEP's Mike Price, and San Jose State's Fitz Hill.
"To me, it's always been Fitz Hill," Texas-El Paso linebacker Robert Rodriguez said. "He found clever ways to beat us. He stands out. He threw us a lot of curve balls in his schemes."
As for the most challenging place at which to play a road game, Fresno State drew the most votes. Hawaii, Nevada, Boise State and Louisiana Tech were also mentioned.
"The fans are as rowdy as they get at Fresno," Rountree said. "It's really exciting to play there."
Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Chris Van Hoy is one of many visiting players who have found the light air of Reno makes playing at Nevada difficult.
"It has to be right here, Reno. I can't play three plays here without wheezing," Van Hoy said.