Tulsa wary of Chang's return

Friday, October 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Tulsa coach Keith Burns sees a lot of Hawaii's Timmy Chang in his own quarterback.

Tyler Gooch can throw. He can run. He has a flare ``that says I'm going to move this football,'' Burns said.

The difference: Chang ranks 23rd nationally in total offense and makes a healthy return Saturday in Tulsa after two weeks off. Gooch didn't finish the two games he started and is questionable this week after aggravating a bruised ankle.

``Unfortunately for us, our guy has been hurt,'' Burns said.

Tulsa (1-4, 0-3 Western Athletic Conference) will need more than the return of its ailing quarterback to beat Hawaii (3-2, 2-2).

The Golden Hurricane gave up 405 passing yards in losing to Boise State last week. Even without Chang the past two weeks, Hawaii's Warriors rank second nationally in passing with an average 353.8 yards a game and are tied for 11th with a total offense of 454.8 yards per game.

Junior receiver Ashley Lelie leads the league in receiving yards at 122.8 yards per game and receptions, at 7.8. And freshman Mike Bass is fourth in the WAC with an average 81 yards rushing.

Hawaii coach June Jones knows how to spread a defense thin, Burns said.

``He'll make you defend the field,'' he said. ``Like UTEP found out, if you try to come after them and blitz them and they get time, they'll make you pay.

``If they don't get time, then obviously you get a chance to tackle.''

The Warriors beat UTEP 66-7 last week. The defense set the tone by returning two first-quarter interceptions for touchdowns.

``Hopefully it will help our confidence and give us some confidence going into Tulsa,'' Jones said.

Quarterback Nick Rolovich led two wins as relief starter, but Jones said he'll opt this week for Chang, who sprained his right wrist in a Sept. 29 loss to Rice.

Chang has passed for more than 300 yards in three starts. His 435 yards against Montana was the fourth-best performance in school history.

Burns said he could see Chang's potential during his days as a recruiter for Southern California.

``You knew you had a guy that had something special,'' he said, ``that had a chance to really be a big-time player.''

Chang's first start came last year against Tulsa, a game the Golden Hurricane won 24-14. Burns made his team review the Hawaii tape this week so it could see what went right. The key this week will be the run, he said.

``I think we can run the ball. We proved that against Fresno State,'' he said. ``Unfortunately we've had to chase points the last two weeks where your running game becomes an afterthought.''

Defensively, Tulsa has some big holes to fill.

Top defensive players Keithan McCorry and Chad Smith remain sidelined with injuries. Burns has been juggling his roster for weeks to find replacements.

``We've got to play and coach better,'' he said. ``We've got to play the guys who can execute their assignments right down to the final detail.''

GOLDEN HURRICANE NOTES: Kickoff is at 2:07 p.m. CDT Saturday at Skelly Stadium ... Burns said Tulsa had a ``great'' chance to sign Hawaii's Bass but ``lost him on the last day of recruiting.'' ... Jones said if he had to name a most valuable player on defense it would be Chris Brown. ``He's given us some attitude, leadership and toughness,'' he said.