GUEST POST: Patrick Mayhorn's Non-Conference Previews: Hawaii
First-year coach Timmy Chang is focusing on establishing roots, not winning in 2022.
SITE STUFF: As I mentioned last week, I’m taking time off this month, but there’s still plenty of content in the pipeline thanks to a heavy-hitting lineup of guest posters.
We begin with a look at Michigan’s week two opponent from Patrick Mayhorn, whose outstanding work you can find at The Outside Zone and Flipping the Field. He’ll use his Group of Five expertise to preview all three of M’s non-conference opponents for us this month.
Timmy Chang isn’t likely to do a lot of winning in his first season at the helm of his alma mater. Given his status as a program legend for his work in quarterbacking June Jones’ offense in the early 2000s – setting just about every school (and quite a few national) passing records in the process – that may be a bit of a tough adjustment for the 40-year-old native son tasked now with rebuilding a Hawaii program damaged severely by two years of Todd Graham.
To make matters worse for Chang, he’s returned home by way of Nevada, formerly directed by now-Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell in what was one of the most successful tenures in program history.
The Wolfpack were a defense short of serious Mountain West contention in each of the last two seasons, and Chang’s responsibilities in coaching wide receivers in 2021 (and tight ends from 2018-20) didn’t exactly force him through the ringer. He worked with Romeo Doubs, Tory Horton, Justin Lockhart, Melquan Stovall and Cole Turner, under the direction of quarterback Carson Strong. Doubs, Turner and Strong all have NFL contracts on their desks; Horton, Lockhart and Stovall will within a few years.
There’s no indication that Chang can’t handle a little bit of losing, but the next time he comes out of a season as a coach feeling badly about his team’s final record may be the first.
He’s just about the only person in Honolulu who may end the 2022 season feeling worse than he did after 2021.
As the Rainbow Warriors move away from Graham’s tumultuous tenure – which ended with allegations of player mistreatment – and into the Chang era, they return to a familiar style of play and to a coach who much better understands the intricacies and quirks of coaching on the island. Chang was born and raised in Hawaii. He’s embraced the player-led ‘Braddahhood’ movement and preaches the importance of playing to Hawaii’s unique circumstances, opening up practice to fans, students and locals in the process.
“I think it’s important that the fans come out and just be part of us,” Chang told Ka Leo in March. “Football is exciting. It’s an exciting sport. It’s given me everything.
“I really want the kids and the keiki of the land to just come out there with their families, and their friends and just kind of watch the team and see how they’re doing, because they’re the ones that are going to represent the state when we go to places like Michigan, San Diego, and go and compete for what we want to do this year. It’s just important for these guys to get around and see our guys and support our guys.”
It’s a stark contrast to the gruff and embittered Graham, whose next amicable split with a school will be his first. So too is Chang’s approach to the game. Like his mentor, Jones, and like just about every successful coach in program history short of Dick Tomey, Chang wants to score a whole lot of points, and understands that to do so with Hawaii requires a bit of creativity.