Brian Clark knew he had broken his right hand when he left North Campus Stadium last Saturday and headed for the hospital.
He also knew he had some adjustments to make if he was to continue playing football for Cal State Northridge.
What he did not know was that his problems off the field would quickly become more perplexing.
His first hint: "When they asked me to sign my name at the hospital," he said. "That was a real adventure."
Clark managed to scribble his signature using his left hand, which is what he also will have to do with his schoolwork. His car, which has a stick shift, provides an even greater challenge.
"It's still parked where it was before the game," Clark said. "This really hasn't been a lot of fun."
Playing on the Northridge offensive line is the least of Clark's troubles. The hand was set in a flexible fiberglass cast Tuesday and he will play against UC Davis on Saturday.
The question now is, which position will he play?
Clark, a first-team All-Western Football Conference selection as a center last season, might be able to adequately snap the ball wearing the cast. If not, he might hike the ball using two hands. If that doesn't work, he will move to guard, a position he has never played.
Whichever happens, Clark is not concerned. He is thankful that he will still be able to play. "Even when I had to leave, in my mind, I knew it wasn't over," he said.
Clark suffered a clean break to the bone that connects his index finger and hand. The injury occurred in the first quarter of Northridge's 7-6 win over Santa Clara. He stayed in the game for three plays--snapping with both hands--but could not continue.
He was replaced by Dean Allman, who was resting on the sideline when he was approached by Rich Lopez, CSUN's offensive coordinator, and told he was the team's new center.
Allman's response: "I said, 'I don't want to go out there. It's too wet.'
"I didn't want to blow it," he said.
The game, which was crucial to the Matadors WFC title hopes, was played on a field of mud and puddles, conditions that are not suited to easy exchange between center and quarterback.
Allman, the starting right guard, had been a center at Rancho Santiago Junior College in Santa Ana but switched positions during spring practice.
"As soon as I found out they had Brian Clark at center, that's when I became a guard," Allman said. He had last taken snaps from quarterback Rob Huffman during summer two-a-day drills.
"I figured, 'Well, somebody's got to do it,' " Allman said. "We didn't get fancy. I used two hands and put it up there and held it for him to take."
Allman is looking forward to returning to guard if Clark can snap the ball.
"It's a lot easier," he said. "And more fun, too. You get to pull around and hit little corners sometimes. You don't have to always worry about that guy right on top of you."
Coach Bob Burt said he is comfortable with the situation either way.
"They're interchangeable parts," Burt said. "The important thing is that we don't lose Brian's expertise, experience and leadership."