Whether in Honolulu, Winnipeg, or Jackson, Mississippi, Timmy Chang knows plenty about running an offense.
After a stellar playing career at Hawaii that saw him break numerous NCAA records as quarterback of the Rainbow Warriors, Chang has settled into coaching. He is about to enter his second season as offensive coordinator at Jackson State.
And while last season’s 5-7 (3-6) record by the Tigers doesn’t exactly jump off the page, JSU quarterback LaMontiez Ivy’s stats practically slap you in the face. As a sophomore, Ivy threw for 3,209 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Even though his interception total needs to come way down, Ivy still threw for 1,200 more yards and seven more touchdowns than Clayton Moore, the 2013 JSU starting quarterback.
“We are running the same offense he ran in college, so he’s showing me how he went about certain plays and how he saw coverage,” said Ivy of Chang. “It took about six or seven games for everything to click.”
That’s a scary thought for Southwest Athletic Conference opponents. Last season, JSU finished second in the league in both passing offense and passing efficiency despite finishing eighth in scoring offense and total offense.
“If you ask the people who run the run and shoot, they’ll tell you that it takes a while – not only from Ivy’s point of view, but from the receivers’ point of view,” Chang said. “Being able to get to the right spots, being able to get to read coverages and do certain things along those lines just takes a while. Once these guys get on the same page, it becomes really hard to stop.”
Chang sure seems to be the guy to lead the way to turning the Tiger offense into a behemoth. During his college playing career, Chang threw for 17,072 yards, 117 touchdowns, eclipsing 4,000 yards in each of his final three seasons and was one of the most electric players in the country.
“Every day since he’s got here, he’s been pushing,” Ivy said. “He’s been teaching me different things and teaching me how to go about things. I’ve improved tremendously. I’m way ahead of where I was in the offense. I know how to get to certain spots.”
After his professional playing career included stints in the NFL, NFL Europe and the Canadian Football League before fizzling, Chang started his coaching career with two seasons at SMU under his Hawaii head coach June Jones.
“June is one of the brilliant minds in football,” Chang said. “People say ‘You can’t do this’ or ‘You can’t do that,” June is one of those firm believers in what can be done.
“The biggest thing I learned from him is you’ve got to trust the process. This offense works. I learned so much from him those two seasons about game planning, breaking down opponents and what to look for and which way to attack defenses.”
Chang said he’s not sure if being a younger coach is a big advantage in dealing with college students, but he definitely can still see things from his players’ point of view.
“I always try to keep in the back of my mind how I was as a player and what I’d want out of a coach,” Chang said. “I try to use my experiences. I heard Montiez talk about the way I used to do it, but I let him make his own decisions. I want him to come up with his own way of thinking when he makes choices on an off the field.
“Because I’m younger, I kind of relate to the generation and understand where they’re coming from. The best part about my job here at Jackson State is the kids that I get to come and coach every day that make it enjoyable.”
And now that Chang has a year under his belt at JSU and Ivy returning to run the offense, the sky appears to be the limit for what the Tigers can accomplish.
“Where we are now compared to where we were last year is night and day,” Chang said. “We’re excited over here about the promise of Ivy and the promise of the receivers, as well as just being able to get back out there and have some fun. Right now, as a young coordinator, my aspirations are just to win games.”