Cal State Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy calls the quarterback the "trigger man" of his offense. This week, he's hoping to find one with better aim.
Murphy has decided that Ronnie Barber, a junior transfer from El Camino College, will replace sophomore Tony Dill as the Titans' starting quarterback when Fullerton plays Idaho State in a nonconference game Saturday at Santa Ana Stadium.
After being pushed into the starting lineup as a freshman last season because of injuries, Dill threw nine touchdown passes to help the Titans win their last four games. The performance earned Dill the starting spot this season, despite a strong, preseason challenge from Barber. In Fullerton's first two games--a 49-3 defeat at the hands of Nevada Reno and a 24-21 defeat to New Mexico State--Dill completed just 7 of 24 passes (29%) for 124 yards, and threw two interceptions. The Titan offense went more than six quarters before scoring a touchdown.
"Tony gets hurt because of inexperience . . . because of his lack of maturity," Murphy said. "We certainly aren't giving up on him. We think he's a good quarterback.
"It was an injustice for him to even play last year, but he was all we had left. He did a lot of things in the first two games that a more experienced guy might not have."
Although Barber hasn't been much more impressive statistically (7 of 17 for 96 yards), he has shown a knack for leading an offense. Last season at El Camino, Barber completed 172 of 301 passes for 2,441 yards and 16 touchdowns.
"Ronnie Barber's got some great field presence," Murphy said. "There's a certain charisma and aura about a quarterback that's essential."
Murphy said the quarterback situation will continue to be evaluated each week, and that Dill, Carlos Siragusa and Rich Sheriff still figure in his plans. "We may go through the whole quarterback gambit to find the right guy and come back to Dill," he said.
Titan Notes There will be some other changes in personnel for Saturday's game against Idaho State, according to Coach Gene Murphy. Backup tailback Tracey Pierce will get some playing time at wide receiver, moving sophomore Keith Bowman to No. 2 tailback behind Rick Calhoun. Senior Tom Phillips will move from free safety to rover to make room for redshirt freshman Mike Schaffel, who Murphy said played well on special teams against New Mexico State. Sophomore George Pritchard may start over junior Ted Hinton at outside linebacker. . . . Rod Gatlin, a redshirt freshman out of El Toro High School, has been declared academically ineligible. Murphy said Gatlin would have played wide receiver this season. . . . Murphy said that linebacker Bryan Riggs played "the best game he's ever played" against New Mexico State. Riggs led the Titans with 11 unassisted tackles.