Despite backup QB, Appalachian State still expects offensive outburst from Hawaii
HONOLULU -- Even though Hawaii is without starting quarterback Timmy Chang for Saturday's season opener, that doesn't make the Warriors any less imposing to Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore.
"They aren't built around one guy," Moore said. "It hasn't altered our preparation. They won't scrap their entire offense now."
Chang, the nation's second leading passer last season with 4,474 yards, was declared ineligible for one game for violating an academic policy by playing in last year's Hawaii Bowl without having completed six credits in the fall term leading up to the game.
That leaves the reigns of Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense to senior backup Jason Whieldon, who saw limited action last year. In four games, he completed 8 of 18 passes for 92 yards and three touchdowns.
"Anytime you get experience it helps," Whieldon said after practice this week. "It's helped build my confidence working with the first team, going through the reads and getting into rhythm with those guys, to make sure we're on the same page Saturday night."
Hawaii coach June Jones said Whieldon has looked good since getting more snaps with the first team offense after Chang's suspension was announced Aug. 21.
"He's the quarterback and he's had a year and a half to kind of be here so he's starting to feel more comfortable every day," Jones said. "He'll compete and play hard."
Also returning for a Hawaii team that finished 10-4 last season is a talented receiving corps of Jeremiah Cockheran (49 receptions, 731 yards) and Britton Komine (58 receptions, 886 yards, 10 touchdowns). Speedy receivers Nate Ilaoa and Chad Owens, both hampered last year with injuries, also are back at full strength.
"It's tough to emulate the Hawaii offense with a scout team, especially their speed and timing," Moore said. "We've got some speed guys but they're all down at the other end of the field."
Moore will rely on a defense that returns seven players, including defensive end K.T. Stovall, linebacker Sam Smalls and cornerback Derrick Black, all selections to the preseason All-Southern Conference team.
Stovall led the Mountaineers with 10 sacks and finished second on the squad with 15 tackles for loss. Smalls is the squad's only senior linebacker and led the team with 122 tackles last season.
"They're really athletic on defense -- very fast, they run to the football and they play hard," Jones said.
Appalachian State finished 8-4 last season in the Division I-AA Southern Conference. The Mountaineers are 6-25 against Division I-A opponents, with their last win a 20-16 victory over Wake Forest on Aug. 31, 2000.
The Warriors insist they won't be looking past the Mountaineers toward their next game -- on the road against No. 8 Southern Cal in two weeks.
"Just because it's a I-AA opponent, it's almost putting more pressure on you to perform to that much of a higher level because everyone's expecting you to win," Whieldon said. "We're looking at this game as a big game where we want to come out and play really, really well."
This will be the first meeting between the two teams. With his players traveling 4,958 from their campus in Boone, N.C., Moore isn't sure what to expect.
"We leave here at 5 a.m. (Thursday) and we get out there at three in the afternoon and that's a six-hour time zone difference," Moore said. "By the time we get there at three, it's like nine o'clock at night (EDT). We're going to practice then we have a little luau deal for them that night."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index