Chang comes up big
in relief of Whieldon
Tim Chang was back in form yesterday in more ways than one.
The Hawaii quarterback bedazzled a national TV audience with his fine touch, but he also returned to the confident, exuberant, positive young man that his teammates and fans know so well.
Chang shook off a late-season slump to throw five touchdown passes in leading the Warriors to a triple-overtime Hawaii Bowl victory over Houston.
Afterward, it wasn't so much what Chang said, but how he said it. He was excited again. He'd found his rhythm, and he knew it.
"When you sit on the sideline for a while, you get a different perspective," Chang said. "I was observing and watching the other guys and it helped me want to go out and try and give what I can. The offense has all the tools; it was just a matter of me being mentally ready and being prepared to get better, not for myself but for the team."
The junior completed 26 of 42 passes for 475 yards and only one interception, but if it hadn't been for an early shoulder injury to senior starter Jason Whieldon, he may not have gotten the chance.
Whieldon, who took over for Chang and led the Warriors to a victory over Alabama and started the regular-season finale against Boise State, thinks he has a partially dislocated shoulder and is expecting to get an MRI and a more definitive diagnosis.
Chang had many big moments against Houston, including his first play when he looked extremely comfortable in the pocket and unloaded a 48-yard pass to Clifton Herbert for a score.
Early in the second quarter, Chang showed great arm strength by hitting an open Jeremiah Cockheran on a bomb for a 64-yard gain on a drive in which the Warriors tied the game at 20-all. He also showed great patience in waiting for Jason Rivers to get open before tossing him a 7-yard TD pass for a 27-20 lead.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Hawaii's Tim Chang completed 26 of 42 passes for 475 yards, five TDs and just one interception in the Hawaii Bowl.
"Tim really stepped it up," Cockheran said. "All the pressure was on him, with the fans on him (booing earlier in the season) and all. He was in the flow from his first play on and he showed his leadership."
Chang was sacked seven times, but he avoided sacks three times while making big plays -- as well as throwing a 4-yard TD pass to Rivers -- in a drive that gave the Warriors a 34-27 lead.
Rivers, a Saint Louis School alumnus like Chang, also mentioned the fickle fans of the last few games of the regular season.
"I told Tim that nobody knows what Saint Louis players are made of, especially for them to come out and boo," Rivers said. "But he showed why he is the true leader of this team."
Chang, who was hyped as a Heisman Trophy candidate this year, was brimming with a positively charged emotion after the game.
"I stay around positive people," Chang said. "And I really want to thank those people who have stayed by me and have been there for me. You know who you are."
The third-ranked all-time quarterback in NCAA passing yardage is already thinking heavily about next year.
"This is going to be the biggest offseason for me," he said. "I've been thinking about starting training tomorrow. I'm going to be ready. I'm still hungry and I know how much better we can get."
Chang also felt bad for Whieldon, his friend.
"I wish he could have played the whole game," Chang said.