Jones: Both
QBs will play

Tim Chang comes back
to practice throwing bullets

Panthers don't want repeat
Rolo to play tonight

By Dave Reardon

Who is it going to be, Tim Chang or Jason Whieldon?

Probably both, according to Hawaii football coach June Jones.

Chang practiced for the first time in 13 days yesterday, and Jones said Chang might start at quarterback Saturday in UH's season opener against Eastern Illinois at Aloha Stadium.

That's if Chang performs as well today as he did in yesterday's practice -- and if there are no new problems with the broken bone on the pinkie of his throwing hand, Jones said.

Whieldon, who has spent the past two weeks preparing to start, will likely play some whether Chang does or not, the coach added.

"They'll both play this game," Jones said. "If Timmy keeps throwing the ball and isn't sore tomorrow, he'll probably be the starter. But both of them are going to play in the game. If he doesn't get better, Jason will start. We'll see how Timmy is in 48 hours."

Whieldon and Chang both said they have no problem with sharing time at the position.

"We've seen Florida do it with two quarterbacks and they were ranked in the top five in the nation," Chang said. "If he wants to do the two quarterback tandem ... I won't argue or anything. If he gives me the shot, I'll play."

Chang said he felt some discomfort in the finger after the two-hour practice.

"There's a little pain, but I've got to play through it," he said.

Jones said Chang could use a painkiller in the finger to numb it during games.

"We'll see what the doctors have planned," Chang said. "I really don't know. Today I just popped two aspirins and called it a day."

Chang seemed to get sharper as the practice went along. Near the end, he threw a 50-yard strike to Jeremiah Cockheran that would have gone for a touchdown in a game.

"It was good, he looks really good back there," receiver Chad Owens said. "I think he's healthy enough to play. ... We'll just have to see how they call it Saturday."

Jones said he won't officially name a starter before the game. He also said thinking ahead to UH's game at Brigham Young a week from tomorrow won't be a factor in who plays Saturday.

"We're not worried about Provo, we're worried about Eastern Illinois," Jones said. "Both quarterbacks are ready to play. I think both will probably play in the game. I think Timmy will struggle with some things with his hand and they'll probably both get in the game."

Chang used a soft brace on the last two fingers of his right hand to absorb shock on the broken bone and keep his fingers properly spaced.

"I call it my 'pinkie pillow,' " Chang said.

"It's not really a cast, but it's got a wedge in there," Jones said. "They're going to have to do a little more to it. It looks like (head trainer) Eric (Okasaki) came up with something good that makes it hold in place, yet it's the way he grips the ball, so a pretty good job by our trainers."

Chang, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound sophomore, passed for 3,041 yards as a freshman in 2000. He injured his right wrist three games into last season and missed the rest of the year. He came back from surgery and was throwing well in fall camp until the finger injury in the first week of fall camp.

Whieldon, who is listed at 6 feet and 187 pounds, is a junior who was an all-conference selection last year at Saddleback Community College.

Hawaii vs. Eastern Illinois

When: Saturday, 6:05 p.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium
Tickets: $19 sideline, $15 end zone, $11 students/seniors, UH students free (super rooter only). Available at Aloha Stadium, except for student tickets at Stan Sheriff Center. Also at Ticket Plus outlets or by calling (808) 526-4400.
TV: KFVE Channel 5, delay at 10 p.m., with rebroadcast Sunday at 9 a.m. Also available live on Pay-Per-View. Call 625-8100 on Oahu or (866) 556-7784 on neighbor islands to subscribe.
Radio: KKEA-AM 1420, live.

The game will be shown on Pay-Per-View at the following locations:

Oahu: Cheers Station, Eastside Grill, Club Anasia, O'Toole's Pub, All-Star Hawaii, The Shack (Kailua, Mililani only), Uptown Cafe, Coral Creek Golf Course, Henry Loui's, Star Karaoke Box, Pagoda Hotel, Rosa's Ice Tee, Players (University, Aiea and Alakea), Soomi's Lounge, Club Chance, Club Touchdown, Murphy's Bar & Grill, Next Door Bar & Grill, Club Femme Nu, Fleet Lounge Pearl Harbor, Kainoa's Sports Bar.
Maui: Pukalani Country Club Restaurant.

UH Athletics


Panthers look to avoid
repeat of last isle trip

Hawaii's 1999 win over Eastern
Illinois snapped a 19-game losing streak

By Cindy Luis

It seems like a lifetime since Eastern Illinois played Hawaii in football.

Sept. 11 was just another date, albeit a big one for the team then called the Rainbows. It was Sept. 11, 1999, when Hawaii ended its 19-game losing streak with a come-from-behind 31-27 victory over the Panthers.

UH went on to a 9-4 mark, a share of the Western Athletic Conference title and a win in the Jeep Oahu Bowl over Oregon State, and was named college football's turnaround team of the year. First-year head coach June Jones was 15 months away from a near-fatal car accident.

Eastern Illinois, which lost several key players to injuries in that loss to Hawaii, limped to a 2-10 finish. It was the worst record for a Bob Spoo-coached team at the Charleston, Ill., school since he took over in 1987.

It capped a year where the former Purdue quarterback also struggled off the field with heart problems.

Since then, Spoo's health has improved along with his team's. The Panthers, the defending Ohio Valley Conference champs, have won 18 of their last 24 games and gone on to the Division I-AA playoffs the past two seasons.

Eastern Illinois, ranked No. 3 by Sports Illustrated, is scheduled to arrive this afternoon and plans to attend a luau Sunday. Spoo expects Saturday's rematch to be less than a picnic.

"I think our team is excited about coming out," Spoo said yesterday. "But the experience wasn't the best for us the last time. As far as the coaches go, we're looking forward to finding out how good we are.

"Yes, on paper, we look good but that's why you play the game, to find out on the field. We could be a good football team with a number of returning veterans back. I hope the chemistry is similar to what we had last year."

Last season, the Panthers went 9-2 with their only losses at San Diego State 40-7 and to visiting Northern Iowa 49-43 in the first round of the I-AA playoffs. Back from the team that finished No. 9 in the final poll are nine starters on offense, including All-American quarterback Tony Romo, tops in I-AA passing efficiency with a 66.7 percent completion rate last season.

The O-line returns intact, and senior all-purpose tailback J.R. Taylor is back also. Taylor, one of five Panthers who played against Hawaii in 1999, was the OVC's No. 2 rusher, 18th in I-AA with 117.7 yards per game and set a school record with 20 touchdowns.

As a I-AA program, EIU offers 63 scholarships and will bring 54 players, two fewer than its travel squad for conference games. Spoo knows he'll see almost twice as many green jerseys on the opposing sidelines.

"I'd like to think that we could do well Saturday, but Hawaii has certainly improved since the last time we played them," said Spoo. "They're a big-time program. We'll take our chances and see what happens."

Spoo said he didn't realize that his 1999 team would be Hawaii's springboard to a turnaround season.

"But, back then, I saw certain ingredients that unify a team," he said. "When you have that, almost anything is possible. It certainly snowballed after they played us."

He hopes that he'll find that unity against Hawaii. While the Warriors are hoping to build on their last win -- a 72-45 rout of No. 9 and previously unbeaten BYU -- the Panthers are looking to erase the memory of being upset at home by Northern Iowa in the first round.

"That seems to have been a motivation all summer, especially with our seniors," said Spoo. "We hope it's filtered through the ranks."

... In 2000, sophomore receiver Ashley Lelie continued to build on his potential, receiving for team-highs of 74 receptions, 1,110 yards and 11 touchdowns. But the Warriors went only 3-9 (2-6 WAC) as the defense struggled and mistakes plagued the offense.

Lelie really busted out in 2001, breaking all major single-season school receiving records. He holds 12 school receiving marks, including career records for receptions (194), yards (3,341) and touchdowns (32), despite playing only three seasons. Lelie was the first first-round NFL Draft pick in UH history.

Today, Lelie is a rookie with the Denver Broncos.

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