Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, October 18, 2001


Nick Rolovich led UH to wins over SMU
and UTEP the past two weeks.

Rolo must  know his role

Timmy Chang is back as UH's starting
quarterback and -- despite 2 straight
wins filling in -- backup Nick Rolovich
must sit quietly for the good of the team

By Kalani Simpson

In the end, as well as the beginning and the middle, it didn't really matter who played quarterback for Hawaii.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Oct. 14, 2001

THERE is no controversy. None. Nada. No and ways. How many times can we say it? So stop the Internet postings. Forget the talk show callings. Game over. End of discussion.

But not end of story. These guys have to go on now, have to live the rest of the season with the changes these two weeks have brought them. Changes in circumstances, changes in themselves. They have to deal with swirling emotions -- bouncing adrenaline, surging confidence, lingering fears, delayed dreams, elation, frustration, and finally, hopefully, comfort in their current situation. Timmy Chang and Nick Rolovich must find their way back into their same old spots now. With all the new twists.

And June Jones, the man who has been on all three sides of this story in his life (starter, backup, coach), has established a firm line of succession and stuck to it. That helps, and Jones knows it. He doesn't need distractions, not the way things are going now, not now that UH is finally rolling.

He wants his quarterbacks concentrating on the game plan, not each other. He wants his team together, not choosing sides. His offense needs rhythm, not disruption. He's seen it happen too many times before.

Timmy Chang returns from an injury
this week as the starter.

"(Tulsa's) kind of been going back and forth between two quarterbacks and that's probably why they're not very consistent right now," he said.

No controversy. No discussion. So forget it.

NICK ROLOVICH FEELS good. Happy. He played his best, the guys were behind him, believing in him, and together, they won two in a row. It worked. He showed what he could do. He did everything he could have done, and that's a very freeing feeling, no matter what happens now. He's back to the bench this week, and he's OK with that. Well, not OK with it, but OK with it, if you know what he means. Well, try this:

"I feel good about what I've done," he said, "but when it (the decision) comes down, it comes down."

Or this: "Obviously I want to play, but, you know, some things don't always go your way, and you just gotta deal with it." And so he does. That's what being a backup quarterback is about.

Backup quarterbacks are an odd, conflicting mix of denial and acceptance. On one hand, they believe they're going to play. "I always believe it'll come," Rolo said. Always.

On the other hand, they have to know they won't play, or be ready for that possibility, or they'll forever be disappointed, depressed, annoyed or psychotic. Steve Young used to freak out before games, yelling, bouncing, foaming at the mouth he was so pumped. Then he'd grab a clipboard and stand around while Joe Montana threw for four touchdowns. That kind of passion -- football passion -- doesn't just disappear. You take it out on the field. Or you take it out on your insides.

"No," Jones said. "You're a team player and you prepare yourself like you're a starter and you're one play away from being the guy that gets to pull the trigger. If you waste your time being upset about it ... You need to be ready to go play."

But a backup quarterback doesn't just have to be ready to play. He has to be ready not to play.

He's the most prepared guy on the team.

THEY WELCOMED TIMMY back to the huddle on Tuesday. Simple as that. He figured it was coming, but didn't know for sure until Jones told him to take the first snaps with the first unit, and so he jogged in, looking into all those eyes looking up at him over facemasks. It had been awhile. He was back. He was back, and it felt good.

"It's the same team, the same group of guys. I'm the only one that switched," Chang said. "We're still on. We're still on track."

But he knows. Just like in the pocket, just like in the face of a blitz, he tries not to feel the pressure, but he knows it's there. In practice, his trademark quick decisions are just a little quicker. Too quick? Too tense? He knew the microscope he'd be under as the local boy quarterback. Now he's getting a taste of it, the off-field pressure.

Coming off a two-week layoff and Rolo's strong performance, is Jones' strongly worded endorsement of him comforting?

"Um," Timmy paused, deciding how he really wanted to answer this. "Yeah," he said finally, firmly. "Actually it is. He's the one, he's the one that makes all the decisions, you know, I don't think anybody out there in Hawaii will change his mind on the way he feels. He's the one making the call and I'm ready to go, and it's his decision playing me or Rolo."

He's only human. Yeah, it does make him feel better, play better, when he doesn't have to look over his shoulder. You bet it does.

And admit it or not, Jones knows it too.

TIMMY IS LOOSE, and Rolo is looser. If they hadn't known it before, they've learned, in the last two years, in these last two weeks, to let go. Relax. Take life as it comes. "You can't worry about things you can't control," Jones said. Perfect. Exactly.

"Just go along with it," Chang said. "There's going to be rough times, but you know, there's going to be good times sometimes. You just gotta roll along with the punches."

"There's a lot more to life than just getting on the field and playing the game," said Rolovich. "These guys that are playing on this team right now are just super guys and, you know, I'll never forget them."

Rolo is throwing, long, arcing, spiraling bombs after practice, he is sweating and smiling, just a young man on a football field on a beautiful day, not a worry in the world. He is aiming for big, huge, barrel rubbish cans, over 40, 50 yards away, like he's in training for the Dave Letterman show. FOOMP! Rolo sinks one, dead shot, impossible shot, two points.

"I saw that!" Chang burst out from across the field, raising both arms to the sky in celebration. He smiled, busting, brilliant, happy. Rolo smiled, too.

"Gotta feel good," the backup quarterback said. "We're on a roll here."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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