Whieldon shines in his first start

Updated: August 31, 2003, 7:28 PM ET

HONOLULU -- In his first start, senior Jason Whieldon threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns.

Despite his strong debut, he will start the next game for Hawaii on the bench.

Timmy Chang is expected to take over Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense this week in practice and start in two weeks against Pac-10 powerhouse Southern California.

Chang, who threw for 20 Hawaii passing records and threw for 4,474 yards last season, sat out Saturday night's game against Appalachian State to serve a one-game suspension for not completing enough academic credits before last year's Hawaii Bowl.

Chang's return means Whieldon must return to the role he's occupied since arriving at Hawaii -- the backup.

"I really don't have any control over it," Whieldon said. "Coach (June) Jones makes the decisions so I'm going to go there and prepare my hardest and be ready to go. If at any time he puts me in there, I'll be ecstatic and go in there and play my hardest."

Whieldon led Hawaii to a 40-17 victory over Division I-AA Appalachian State in the season opener for both teams.

All three of Whieldon's touchdown tosses went to his roommate, Jeremiah Cockheran, who had seven receptions for 154 yards, including 107 yards in the first quarter.

"I felt unbelievable out there," Cockheran said. "I felt relaxed and confident and I just made plays."

Whieldon said Cockheran made the most of his opportunities.

"Jeremiah is a great receiver. I think he was making me look good," Whieldon said. "He kind of had his breakout game, but all the other guys are capable of doing the same thing."

Whieldon showed no jitters, starting quick, completing his first eight passes. After the opening quarter, he was 9-of-10 for 206 yards, with scoring passes of 18 and 54 yards to Cockheran, as the Warriors jumped to a 21-0 lead. Whieldon ended the night 21-of-35 with two interceptions.

"Jason made plays early and did what he had to do to win the game," Jones said. "He saw things early and executed well too."

Last year, Whieldon appeared in four games, going 8-of-18 for 92 yards and three TDs.

The Mountaineers were led by quarterback Richie Williams. The sophomore was 11-of-20 for 132 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 37 rushing yards.

An interception by Derrick Black gave the Mountaineers the ball on Hawaii's 38 and set up their first touchdown -- an 8-yard pass from Williams to Zach Johnson in the corner of the end zone.

Hawaii opened up its biggest lead 34-10 on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Whieldon to Cockheran. A 24-yard punt return by Chad Owens set up the touchdown pass. Owens also had five catches for 77 yards.

As Appalachian State tried to scrap back, cutting the lead to 17 with 11 seconds left in the third, Hawaii freshman Ross Dickerson returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to make it 40-17.

Dickerson caught the ball at the goal line, broke up field, found a seam at the 20, cut left and sprinted untouched the rest of the way.

"Ross Dickerson's kickoff return was electrifying," Jones said.

Hawaii's young offensive line, without four starters from last season, yielded three sacks.

"I thought our offensive line could've protected better," Jones said. "I think if we had protected (Whieldon) a little bit better, he might have done even more."

The Warriors have a bye week before facing USC in Los Angeles on Sept. 13. The eighth-ranked Trojans looked impressive in their opener Saturday, beating No. 5 Auburn 23-0.

"Overall, we came out winners, but we still have some work to do," Jones said. "The bye week will help us prepare for USC."

The last time the teams met, USC defeated Hawaii 62-7 at Aloha Stadium in Jones' coaching debut for the Warriors.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index