HONOLULU — As a prolific quarterback out of Saint Louis School who arrived at the University of Hawaii campus with a built-in understanding of the run-and-shoot offense, Timmy Chang stepped into June Jones’ system and produced eye-popping numbers within weeks.
More than two decades later, Chang, who decided to reacquaint his alma mater with the run-and-shoot heading into his second season as head coach, realizes not everyone will pick things up at the same rate.
Therefore, he and his staff are stretching out instruction over the course of a month of spring practices until March 3. Friday morning’s breezy session at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex capped four practices in Week 1.
Chang said it was a “great first week” of spring ball while acknowledging the process of installing the throwback offense (with some modern tweaks like tight ends) will be gradual.
“It takes a little while. It does,” Chang said. “I can remember my time here, I came out of Saint Louis and … I knew it a little bit. A lot, really. That helped me play early on.” He contrasted his experience to that of his teammate Nick Rolovich, who excelled in the pass-happy system in 2001 — but only after considerable struggles in 2000.
Chang has assumed direct control of the offense and works with the six quarterbacks in spring camp, including returnees Brayden Schager, Joey Yellen and Jake Farrell. The newcomers are freshman Dylan Gebbia of Los Angeles, graduate transfer Dalen Morris of Huntsville, Ala. and junior Jonah Chong, an Iolani School graduate by way of Nevada.
“We’re trying to implement and speed the process up a little bit with our quarterbacks. And it’s one of the main reasons I’m in that room and I’m so hands-on with those guys,” Chang said. “So I can catch them up with the process, understand what we’re looking at, where their eyes should be, different parts of the game, different parts of level as we try to distribute the ball correctly down the field.”
It’s not just the quarterbacks that face significant changes. UH running backs are among those who face significant adjustments. Sophomore Tylan Hines, the Rainbow Warriors’ most established back, who rushed 83 times for 634 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman, is splitting his practice reps evenly between running back and slotback. He caught nine passes for 82 yards in UH’s hybrid RPO system in 2022.
“The plan is to maximize my potential,” Hines told Spectrum News. “However far they want me to go with it, I’m going to go with it.”
He said the run-and-shoot is totally new to him, but he finds it interesting and has been spending extra time in the coaches’ offices to help get up to speed.
“Really just focusing on the defenses and knowing what to run off certain defenses, and recognizing coverages, really,” Hines said of what he’s focusing on.
An old staple of the run-and-shoot, the shovel pass to the running back, will make a return, Chang said, but it hasn’t been rolled out yet.
“I hope everybody gets tickled by it. It’s nostalgic,” Chang said. “It’s a good feeling when you see those guys catch it. I think Nate (Ilaoa, the former UH back who is now its director of recruiting) averaged about 30 yards per carry on that thing. So it’ll be in … the playbook.
“But it’s a great first week. We’re starting with the (bread) and butter of everything that needs to get in and calls that are staples to our offense, and we’ll continue building our packages as spring ball progresses.”