Cal State Fullerton Notebook / Robyn Norwood : Without Moore, Pringle Must Carry the Load
Just when Cal State Fullerton had found an ideal tailback duo--one to dodge tacklers, one to run over them--the position has become a solo act.
Michael Moore, the Titans’ starting tailback, injured his right knee Saturday in a 20-10 victory over Nevada Las Vegas. Although surgery is not being considered, Moore will be out 3 to 5 weeks.
That means the bulk of the responsibility for the ground attack falls to Michael Pringle, who had been splitting time with Moore.
“It’s a load I want to carry,” Pringle said. “But it’s not the way I wanted to get it.”
Moore, the fancier-footed runner, had rushed for 147 yards and caught 6 passes for another 53 yards in 3 games.
“Losing Michael hurts a bunch,” Mike Heimerdinger, offensive coordinator, said.
Pringle, a junior who transferred from Washington State and who has more of a run-them-over style, has been figuring increasingly in Fullerton’s offense.
His best game came against West Virginia Sept. 10, in which he rushed for 100 yards and racked up more than 200 yards in his debut as a kick returner. In 3 games, he has 184 yards rushing.
“I was a little rusty coming back,” said Pringle, who sat out the past year. “But as practice went on, my vision got better. I was just waiting for the rust to fall off. . . . I plan on making a bigger impact as each week goes by.”
Pringle saw limited playing time at Washington State, and left school last year after he broke his jaw, missing so much class time that it would have been difficult to catch up, he said.
“I just wasn’t comfortable there,” he said. “It was a lot of things, and I didn’t like Pullman much.”
Fullerton loses some versatility without Moore, who was the team’s third-leading receiver.
Pringle has not been a target.
“It’s not that I don’t like to catch the ball, it’s just that (the coaches) are not too confident in me catching it,” Pringle said. “I kind of juggle it now and then.”
Pringle has worked out with the receivers lately.
“I think Mike can catch the ball. He’s just not used to it,” Heimerdinger said.
In any case, the options are limited.
Fullbacks Tim Byrnes and William Robinson have started slowly, and the third-string tailback, Palente Henry, has carried the ball only once.
Humility and cockiness somehow go hand in hand for Titan linebacker Jerry Leggett, who was named Big West Conference defensive player of the week after making 15 tackles and 1 interception at UNLV.
“I wasn’t everywhere. My teammates, they did the job,” said Leggett, a senior who transferred from Mississippi State.
But there is another side to Leggett.
At practice Monday, he was wearing elbow pads that belonged to another player, Joe Scott. Leggett said he had left his behind.
“I left those at UNLV,” Leggett said. “I guess they wanted to put them in the showcase.”
George McQuarn, Fullerton basketball coach, made the trip to Las Vegas and, at Murphy’s request, gave a pregame pep talk to the football team. Was it a success? Players said it was, but McQuarn had his doubts.
“You saw the way they played in the first half,” McQuarn said.
Fullerton trailed, 10-9, at halftime.
And what wisdom did McQuarn impart?
“They’re a better road team than we are,” said McQuarn, whose team won only 1 regular-season game away from home last season. “That’s what I told them, and that’s the truth.”
The Titan soccer team, with 6 sophomores in the starting lineup, is off to a 2-4-1 start.
“We are having a difficult time,” Coach Al Mistri said.
One bright spot, though, has been the play of goalkeeper Jay Nettekoven, a sophomore.
“Jay has been phenomenal,” Mistri said.
Nettekoven, who has a goals-against average of just below 2, has 56 saves in 7 games.
Linebacker Bill Bryan (ankle), whose 22 tackles are third on the team, is questionable for the Pacific game. . . . Kicker Stan Lambert, who missed two out of four field goals from inside 30 yards Saturday, said he will work hard on close ones this week. “It’s easier to kick long distance because you don’t have such an angle,” he said. One of the misses, he said, was caused in part by his nervousness about the snap, which had been bungled on an extra-point attempt in the first quarter. “You’ve just got to block that out of your mind and kick,” he said. Lambert made field goals of 19 and 23 yards.