Chang puts UTEP
history in the past
The junior quarterback
acknowledges he has struggled
previously against the Miners
If anyone can relate to what Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang has experienced over the past two weeks, it's Nick Rolovich.
Rolovich, who holds several school passing records, visited the Warriors' practices Tuesday and yesterday. He ignited an offense explosion at the end of the 2001 season and can recall that feeling when the picture of the run-and-shoot pops into focus and the game seemingly slows down around you.
UTEP at Hawaii
When: Saturday, 6:05 p.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium
TV: KFVE (Channel 5), delay at 10 p.m. Also live on Pay-Per-View.
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM.
"It's kind of an awkward term, 'slowing down,' but it really does," Rolovich said. "It's either you recognize it quicker or it just slows down for you and it comes a little easier."
Even with 10 touchdowns and 887 passing yards in Hawaii's wins over Fresno State and Louisiana Tech, it's still premature to compare Chang's recent success to Rolovich's three-game run in which he threw for 1,548 yards and 20 touchdowns to close his senior season.
But Chang's performance over the last two weeks has helped the Warriors climb back into the Western Athletic Conference title chase, while boosting his confidence.
"I'm just trying to get the ball to my receivers and trying to do a good job of keeping the defense off the field, moving the chains and putting points on the board," Chang said. "As long as we execute I think we'll be fine."
Chang will try to keep the momentum flowing in Saturday's Homecoming game against Texas-El Paso, a team that has given him fits in the past.
Chang made his collegiate debut as a true freshman against UTEP in 2000, taking over in the second half for a struggling Rolovich. He threw for 130 yards and two interceptions in the 39-7 loss. He was injured for the 2001 game, a 66-7 win at Aloha Stadium.
Hawaii beat the Miners 31-6 in El Paso last year, despite one of Chang's toughest outings. He completed nine of 27 passes for 85 yards and an interception before being replaced by Shawn Withy-Allen.
In two games against UTEP in his career, Chang has completed 18 of 49 throws (37 percent) for 215 yards, three interceptions and one touchdown.
"I've noticed it, but it's nothing to dwell upon, it's in the past," Chang said of last year's game.
"I haven't had good showings against UTEP, that's probably the least productive I've been. I'm just trying to improve and find a way to win."
Chang enters this week's game coming off two impressive performances. Over the last two weeks, Chang completed 69 percent of his throws (73 for 106) and passed for a career-high 534 yards in last week's 44-41 win over Louisiana Tech.
"He had a really good game and did a lot of things right," UH quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison said. "He's still working at getting better. He's pretty good about making sure he corrects all his errors and getting on the same page with all of the receivers."
Morrison said greater stability in the UH receiving corps has helped the offense get into a rhythm lately. The unit went through it's share of shuffling early in the season due to injuries and suspension, but seems to have settled recently.
"You get a feel for certain receivers," Morrison said. "That's what Nick had with Ashley (Lelie), they really started to understand each other real well and made it difficult for anybody to deal with them."
Along with posting the fifth 500-plus yard passing game in school history, Chang threw a season-high four interceptions last week, giving him 10 this season. But he was able to shake off the bad throws to make several clutch connections with the game on the line.
"He needs to stay confident and stay positive regardless of if he throws four picks or not," receiver Chad Owens said.
"Coach (June) Jones tells us the next play is the most important. If you're going to go in a shell, you're not going to get it done. But if you come out wanting to be the guy to make that play and change the momentum back in our favor, then it's going to happen."
This week, Chang will try to erase the memories of UTEP games past and keep the Warriors' offense rolling.
"He knows he didn't play well (against UTEP) last year, but I think his focus will be on trying to execute the things we're doing this week in practice," Morrison said. "He's just ready to go for Saturday night. I don't know if it's UTEP or anything else, he's just ready to play."