For a bit longer, at least, Cal State Fullerton can sit easy atop the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. standings, two victories ahead of its closest rival.
The Titans (2-0, 2-2), are all alone in first place. But there's a catch. No team other than Cal State Long Beach and Utah State--the two teams the Titans have beaten--has played a PCAA game.
Titan Coach Gene Murphy isn't saying it means a lot, but neither is he complaining.
"It's better than oh--and--two," he said.
The race will get serious this week, though, as Fullerton plays defending champion San Jose State, which is favored to repeat, Saturday at San Jose.
"We go right into the fire next week," Murphy said. "They are awesome."
The Spartans (0-0, 3-1), are led by quarterback Mike Perez, who led the nation in total offense last year and currently is second with 1,183 yards. Their three victories include wins over Cal and Stanford, and their only loss came against Oregon State.
Fullerton's only wins are against considerably lesser teams.
"Whether Long Beach State and Utah State are good or not, we won two and that helps us," said Jerry Brown, Titan offensive coordinator.
"I've got to think the San Jose State ego says it has to beat Fullerton," Brown said. "They'll look at the two teams Fullerton has beaten and at how they have been playing in the Pac-10. I'm hoping they're thinking that. If that makes them feel good about themselves, that's fine. If we could sneak up on them, that would be great."
Fullerton likely will wear uni-color uniforms--white pants with white jerseys--against San Jose State, marking the third straight week the Titans have worn solid colors. They wore all orange for a home game against Cal State Long Beach and got their first victory. Against Utah State at Logan, they were decked in all white and got their second victory.
"We're not superstitious, but we'll probably go white and white again," Brown said.
Todd White, whose 103 yards in punt returns in the Titans' 30-11 victory over Utah State were the most by a Titan since 1972, has been named Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. co-offensive player of the week along with San Jose State fullback James Saxon.
White, a 6-foot, 193-pound senior, also had two touchdown receptions and totaled 157 all-purpose yards Saturday.
Saxon, a 6-0, 195-pound senior, scored two touchdowns and had 186 all-purpose yards in San Jose State's 24-17 victory at Stanford.
San Jose State linebacker Yepi Pauu, a 6-0, 225-pound senior who played at Santa Ana High School, was selected as the league's defensive player of the week after making a career-high 15 tackles--including two sacks--in the Spartan victory.
Time of possession has become a statistic to watch for the Titans.
"We feel we have our offense on the field for two reasons," Brown said. "One is to score. The other is to keep their offense off the field."
For the past three weeks, Fullerton's ball-control offense has given the Titan defense ample time to rest.
Against Utah State, the Titans had the ball 37 minutes, down slightly from a season-high of just more than 41 minutes in a victory over Long Beach. Even in a 56-12 loss to Louisiana State, Fullerton had the ball more than 34 minutes, but then the Tigers were scoring in a hurry and giving the ball back to Fullerton via kickoffs.
The only time the Titans have had the ball less than half of the game was in a 44-0 loss at Hawaii when they had the ball for 29 minutes.
Outside linebacker Ted Hinton, who missed the first game of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, reinjured the knee against Utah State and is not expected to play against San Jose State. . . . Among other players who were injured against the Aggies, wide receiver John Gibbs (ankle) is expected to play, and defensive tackle Kelly Gogerty (knee), linebacker Joe Scott (shoulder) and safety Mike Schaffel (shoulder) are questionable. Cornerback Tyrone Pope (knee), who missed the game after sustaining an injury against Long Beach, remains questionable. Defensive lineman John Smith (arthroscopic knee surgery) may return this week. . . . Carlos Adley, a junior nose guard who was academically ineligible last season and had difficulty re-establishing his eligibility this year, is expected to be eligible for Saturday's game. . . . Quarterback Ronnie Barber moved into third place on the Titan career touchdown pass list with two at Utah State, giving him a total of 18. He trails Mike Ernst (31) and Damon Allen (21). Barber's 174 yards passing moved his career total to 2,168, putting him in sixth place, just ahead of Titan assistant coach Dale Bunn (1977-78).