HONOLULU — Whether it’s through the run-and-shoot system or something else entirely, Ian Shoemaker will attempt to bestow the gaudy offense numbers he’s used to upon the Hawaii football program.
Shoemaker, a former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks at Eastern Washington of the Football Championship Subdivision, was announced Thursday as heading up those same positions with Timmy Chang’s new staff in Manoa.
It will be Shoemaker’s first job at the FBS level. Shoemaker, who hails from Graham, Washington, near Tacoma, was the head coach at Division II Central Washington for five years before joining EWU. He said he was grateful to get a call from Chang.
Unlike most other members of Chang’s recently announced crop of assistants, Shoemaker and Chang were not previously acquainted. Shoemaker said it’s to be determined whether he or Chang will call plays, and whether Shoemaker will be on the field with Chang or up in the booth.
“We’re still working on those things, who’s going to be the guy in charge (of plays),” Shoemaker said. “I’m a no-ego guy. I’m not worried about … who’s calling it. What we’re going to do is build the best offense we can and score as many points as we can…”
While Chang said in his first media conference call that the run and shoot, which he operated in at UH under June Jones, was part of his identity. But Shoemaker indicated, after multiple conversations with Chang, that the offense could take on a more hybrid look.
“I hope it’s super hard for people to defend … If you want to call it the run and shoot or some of those things, (you can), but I’m not concerned about the name,” Shoemaker said. “If you can define what we’re doing offensively, I think it’s easier to defend. What I want to do is do whatever fits the athletes or culture that Coach Chang wants to put together, and what his philosophy and vision is.
“Balance and tempo is important to me. … The ‘run for yards, pass for miles’ (motto) is what we’re looking for.”
He said that run-pass option (RPO) and involving the quarterback in the running game could be change-ups for the offense.
“I don’t think (RPO) is an impossible add to the run-and-shoot pass game,” he said. “Combining some of those ideas is what I’m excited to sit down with Coach Chang and developing a plan to develop those ideas…”
Shoemaker’s first year at EWU in 2019, the Eagles led the FCS in total offense at 524.8 yards per game, with a split of 317.1 yards passing and 207.8 yards rushing. His second season of 2020-21, the yardage per game was virtually identical for third in the FCS.
Last year, the Eagles got off to a similarly explosive start in their fast-paced offense as they won their first seven games, including a double-overtime win over FBS UNLV at Allegiant Stadium, a place UH lost in 2021.
However, Shoemaker left EWU under unusual circumstances at the nine-game mark.
Shoemaker resigned as offensive coordinator at EWU in November, the school announced at the time. According to the Eagles release, “This is a personnel issue, and no additional comments will be made, including by head coach Aaron Best.”
The Spokesman-Review, a newspaper based in Spokane, Washington, noted that through the first seven games (all wins), EWU averaged 54 points and 628.1 yards of offense per game. But the Eagles were held to about half of their averages in the two losses.
“It was a mutual separation. We decided after those first couple of losses that it just wasn’t going to work anymore,” Shoemaker told Hawaii media.
He said he paid close attention to the remainder of the season. EWU finished 10-3, losing in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.
“It wasn’t easy, for sure,” Shoemaker said. “I have a lot of guys on the staff that I still care about. A lot of those players we spent a lot of time with … watching those guys continue on and make a run in the playoffs was definitely challenging. But I wish them the best of luck, I hope they have a great season next fall.”
UH also made its new associate head coach and special teams coordinator, Thomas Sheffield, official on Thursday.
Sheffield, the special teams coordinator at Nevada the last two years, had relocated to Colorado State with Chang under Jay Norvell.
He pledged to bring his “Ride or Die” mantra to Hawaii and said his goal on any special teams play is to bring “chaos.” His favorite part of special teams, he said, is that he gets to coach everyone on the team in some form.
“Timmy will be the first to tell you I don’t do things normal,” Sheffield told local media Thursday. “I’m a little different, but I think that’s what makes the kids gravitate to me. I don’t know many special teams coordinators that get their culture tattooed all over their chest. But I did it because I wanted to show the kids that culture is important to me. … Don’t talk about it, be about it, and that’s what we’re bringing to Hawaii football.”
He also affirmed he will be Chang’s No. 2 man as the associate head coach.
Sheffield called Chang one of his best friends who constantly had his back at Nevada.
“Anything I’ve ever needed, Timmy’s been there,” he said. “It made this decision not easy, but it pushed me over the edge to come to Hawaii, to leave Colorado State and be here with Timmy as he rebuilds his alma mater and makes everybody on the island proud again.”
UH is holding a “Welcome Home Timmy Chang” formal introduction as head coach at 11 a.m. Friday at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. However, the event is closed to the public; UH will live stream it, it said.
Also Thursday, Matt Chon was announced as UH football chief of staff.