“Ahead of the Curve”: ‘Bows Start Spring Practice with Return to the Run-N-Shoot

By Paul Brecht

MANOA — Timmy Chang is one of many legendary names in the history of the Rainbow Warriors football program.

The former Rainbow Warrior star QB, returning home to rejuvenate the football program, excited fans once again for his first try as a head coach back in his home state and for his alma mater.

During Chang’s first season at the helm of the Hawai’i football program, the ‘Bows struggled offensively as the team tried to figure out the identity of the unit.

Following a 1-4 start, the Rainbow Warriors entered the bye week and started to insert run-and-shoot offensive concepts in the playbook. The results saw the offense increase the average points scored per game by about four, including three 30-point performances in the final eight games.

The ‘Bows entered the off-season and Chang made the decision to fully switch back to his roots, the Run-N-Shoot. Players entered the semester break with eyes to the new offensive scheme, though many local players had seen the offense used for years prior in Hawai’i.

“It’s Hawai’i’s offense,” Chang said of the run-and-shoot scheme.

It was an early jump on the spring practice period by the University of Hawai’i football team and the offense looked like second nature. 

Forced to start camp before other programs in the country due to an on-campus project that will temporarily render the grass practice fields and some of the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex unusable, the ‘Bows brought the juice on Day 1.  

“That was fun, it was a good day.” Chang reflected following the first practice. “I think they’re ahead of the curve a [little bit]. These guys are also hungry, it looks a little different. There are a lot of guys that we signed out here early, and they’re going to add a lot of value to this team and they’re fitting in perfect.”

While the offense was looking crisp on the opening day of camp Monday, the defense responded towards the end of practice Tuesday. Logan Taylor, the vocal and energetic linebacker who leads the unit, could be heard throughout the drills encouraging teammates as it began to lightly rain.

With every incompletion, pass break-up or would-be potential big hit, there was Taylor screaming in support of his teammates. As he went, the rest of the defensive energy followed.

The defense stepping up the energy brought out the beauty of the run-and-shoot offense that the ‘Bows will employ next season and beyond. With playmakers who can make quick reads of the defense on the fly, the only job Chang has for quarterbacks is distribution of the ball. 

“I’ll stay with the quarterbacks and just continue their progress, continue their journey to throw completions and distribute the ball,” Chang mentioned. “That’s basically their job, to make plays, distribute the ball and when they can, use their legs to create extra plays.”

Part of the offense looking so organized through two days of spring practices has been the improvement of starting quarterback Brayden Schager. The junior returned home and worked with Dan Morrison, the former quarterbacks coach for the ‘Bows during Chang’s time under center, on the offense for the upcoming season. 

Chang has also seemed to take on a bigger role with the offense this season, as the head coach now works directly with the quarterbacks as well as assuming play-caller responsibilities. Chang, while often coaching with a smile, makes sure his signal-callers understand all things throwing and catching.  

“It’s good to learn from [Coach Chang],” Schager said following practice Monday. “He ran the Run-N-Shoot just as well as anyone.” 

Schager also enters spring camp as the unquestioned QB1. The quarterback threw for 2,348 yards and 13 touchdowns last season after taking over as the starter.

“It’s a lot of fun just having that security, kind of,” Schager said about having the top spot on the depth chart. “But also know that I need to work hard every single day. It’s good to just take over this team, it gives me more confidence, it lets me have more of a leadership role on this team, which I think I’m doing a better job.”

Spring practices for the Rainbow Warriors run until March 3, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM. The ‘Bows will not practice the Monday following the Super Bowl.