Sports Notebook


The time has come
for the Cougars

The Warriors are traveling to Provo,
and BYU couldn't have timed it better

Star-Bulletin staff

Football, June Jones said, is timing. In last year's win over then-unbeaten BYU, the timing was heavily in Hawaii's favor. The Warriors were at home, their offense was peaking, their crowd was sold out. In contrast, the Cougars had just lost their best player and were coming off an emotional win.

"We caught 'em at the right time," Jones said yesterday of the 72-45 rout.

But now, Jones said, the tables have turned. Now it is BYU and its crowd waiting in ambush and the Warriors making a long trip into a hostile environment.

"They've practiced all summer, regardless of what they tell you," Jones said. "I guarantee they've been practicing against some of the things we do. And they've got three more days, probably, to get ready than we do. We're traveling, you know, losing a day.

"The timing is right for them this year."

And UH knows it.

"But we have known that for six months, so we've been talking about what it's going to be like," Jones said.

"I don't have any question we'll play hard. But whether we win or not, who knows. But we'll play hard, I guarantee that."

It's a snap for Chang: UH quarterback Tim Chang will attempt to change the way he takes a direct snap from center this week. If Chang can receive the ball with his other hand on top, he will stay in the game, in contrast to the situational substitutions that saw Jason Whieldon enter in non-shotgun formations Saturday to limit the wear and tear on Chang's injured pinkie.

"His finger's still broken," Jones said. "He's not 100 percent."

Nevertheless, Chang drew exceptionally high marks for his 2002 debut: "I didn't think we should have had an incomplete pass, looking at the film," Jones said.

Jones said most of the offensive struggles in Saturday's 61-36 win against Eastern Illinois could be traced to mental breakdowns in blocking assignments and early miscues by receivers.

"I thought we were pretty average, or below average, actually," offensively, he said. "But the quarterback saved us. When we busted protections he has great feel for when people get around him and gets rid of the ball. So instead of having eight sacks, we had one, I think. And that was on a broken play."

Career nights on D: After reviewing game tape, Jones said three players had the best games of their careers against the Panthers, citing defensive backs Kelvin Millhouse and Hyrum Peters and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa.

"Pisa, I don't think I've seen a linebacker play as good as Pisa, at any level, in that game," Jones said. "He played a different level, he anticipated, he was everywhere. His game was raised when the lights went on, and that's what you gotta do."

But Jones said Hawaii's run defense at times left something to be desired, with players not executing assignments.

"And we could have eliminated a lot of the runs by sacking the quarterback for the eight or nine times we had him sacked," Jones said. "And that puts them in long yardage situations instead of another first down or second-and-short."

Short yardage: Jones said game-turning plays on defense will be key, because Hawaii won't stop BYU. "This week it doesn't matter who BYU plays, they're going to have 500-plus yards," Jones said. ... Defensive tackle Lui Fuga, likely lost for the season on a controversial play, had surgery Sunday night to repair a broken ankle. ... UH was scheduled to depart at 10 a.m. today on an Aloha Airlines charter following a morning practice session. The Warriors had a rare Monday practice yesterday afternoon.

Around the WAC: Louisiana Tech quarterback Luke McCown (three TD passes, 448 passing yards in a 39-36 victory over Oklahoma State), San Jose State linebacker Luke La Herran (12 tackles in a 33-14 win at Arkansas State) and Fresno State defensive back Raymond Washington (blocked a field goal try in a 16-14 win against San Diego State) were named the WAC offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week. Other nominees were running back David Mikell and cornerback Julius Brown (Boise State), quarterback Chang, safety Peters and kicker Justin Ayat (Hawaii), wide receiver Nate Burleson, defensive end Keenan Curtis and returner Ronnie Hardiman (Nevada), running back Howard Jackson (Texas-El Paso), defensive end Nick Burley (Fresno State), and defensive end Brandon Green and punter Travis Hale (Rice). ... After falling 37-0 to Oklahoma, Tulsa's 11-game losing streak is now the longest in the nation. Duke (23 games), Houston (15) and Navy (10) broke their slides with wins over the weekend.

UH Athletics

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