Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, October 3, 2001


Hawaii coach June Jones goes over a play with Nick
Rolovich. The quarterback will replace Tim Chang
in this week's lineup.

‘Rolo-time’ for Hawaii

Due to Chang's injury, Rolovich
is back behind the wheel
of UH's run-and-shoot

Tim Chang could play next week

By Dave Reardon

You're handed the keys to one of the most high-powered passing offenses in the nation.

What's your first move?

UH Football If you're Nick Rolovich you hang out with a linebacker.

"Pisa (Tinoisamoa) is amazing to me, the way he approaches a game," Rolovich said. "I've been up at his house the past two nights, just talking about football. Last night 212 hours went by just like nothing. He lets me see the defensive perspective of it. I never really played defense, so anything like that really helps me now."

Rolovich replaces injured starter Tim Chang as quarterback of Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense Saturday at Southern Methodist.

His approach is like the new boss from among the ranks who goes around picking brains. Rolovich is trying to absorb as much as he can as quickly as he can.

"He has his own reads to make during practice, so after he talks with us a lot. He wants to see what we see, what's going through our heads on the field," wide receiver Channon Harris said. "We're explaining to him what we see on the field so he knows where we're going, who to look for on the backside, who's where on what play."

Rolovich said yesterday this is a new approach for him. When he won the starting quarterback job at the beginning of last season, he didn't always seek input.

"I think I probably thought I was too good coming out of junior college," he said. "I didn't open up to the coaches or enough players, about what the scheme was. Maybe I was a little stubborn. I was used to doing what I was doing.

"Things in football are always similar, but with a different coaching staff and a different attacking style you have to come to grips," he said. "Maybe I didn't give it everything I had last summer and I didn't want it to be the same this time."

Nick Rolovich

Born: Feb. 16, 1979 in Daly City, Calif.

Height and weight: 6 feet 1 inch, 193 pounds

2001: Played one down against Nevada, throwing one incomplete pass.

2000: Started three games, played in four. Completed 63 of 136 passes with six touchdowns and four interceptions.

Junior college: Two-time All-American at City College of San Francisco.

Prep: 1997 graduate of Martin Catholic High School in Kenfield, Calif. Two letters in football and one in baseball, all-league in both sports.

Hidden talent: Playing guitar.

Injury status: "My finger is fine, doesn't bother me at all." (Rolovich was reported to have sprained a finger receiving the one snap he took in the Nevada game.)

Ironic, since the summer he supposedly slacked, Rolovich emerged the starter. This past offseason, he knew he was behind Chang, probably no matter what he did. But Rolovich knew this day might come and he continued to work hard.

It was only a game-and-a-half into the 2000 season when Rolovich found himself on the sideline watching Chang on the field. But the way he handled the benching improved his popularity among his teammates.

"I think he was great about it," wide receiver Justin Colbert said. "He wasn't bitter about it, he figured the coaches made the decision for the good of the team. There wasn't any pouting going on. He hung with it, now he's getting another chance. I believe he'll make the best of it."

Of course, Rolovich also spends as much time as possible with quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison and head coach June Jones.

"When I first got here, it was almost like, 'Wow, that's June Jones, can I talk to him?' But he's there for me to ask questions if I don't totally understand something. Sometimes it's just 15 minutes here and there, but you always pick up a new wrinkle about how the offense works. Now I know he's not going to yell at me. He's just going to explain it to me."

Jones said Rolovich is much more prepared to play than he was last year, even though he hasn't been getting as many repetitions in practice since he was the backup until this week.

There will be an adjustment phase, because Rolovich and Chang are two different players. For example, Rolovich has a stronger arm, but Chang has a quicker release.

"The balls come with a different velocity, different touch," Colbert said. "It takes practice to get the timing down, but that's why we're out here. We're going to work hard and we'll be ready."

Yesterday, as the first team defense jogged to the middle of the field to meet the first team offense in drills, defensive leaders Jacob Espiau, Chris Brown, Tinoisamoa and Nate Jackson lined up to high-five Rolovich.

"It's Rolo-time!" Brown yelled.

It was a small, spontaneous gesture, but it said a lot. The entire team is behind Rolovich and has confidence in him, as it was with Chang.

That includes Jones.

"He has a way better understanding than when he played last year," the coach said. "I expect he'll make some plays in the game, and we have to pick up the slack in other places.

"He's a competitive kid, he's a leader and he'll show up Saturday ready to play."

Even if his stay at the controls is just for one week, Nick Rolovich said he's learned important lessons from winning the starting job, losing it and getting it back again.

"Everyone's got something good to say, so you don't shut anyone out," Rolovich said. "You've got to have certain instincts to play this game. At quarterback there's a lot of things that have got to be second nature. But there's two parts of the game. You learn every day and you've got to love the game.

"I feel like I've found my drive again."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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