San Diego State apparently will turn over the quarterback reins to Tim Gutierrez, a redshirt sophomore who has yet to attempt a pass at the collegiate level, for today's game against No. 11 UCLA at the Rose Bowl.
Although Coach Al Luginbill said a decision on the status of injured incumbent David Lowery will not be made until after pregame warm-ups, sources said that Gutierrez already has been informed by Luginbill that he will start.
That might explain why Gutierrez has had trouble eating and sleeping this week. His SDSU career consists of two handoffs last season in a game at Hawaii.
"I don't know whether I can't sleep because it's so hot or because I'm nervous," Gutierrez said. "(Wednesday) night, I was up at 3 a.m. drinking cold water and watching HBO, Showtime and ESPN."
In three seasons at Santa Clara High in Oxnard, Gutierrez passed for 7,272 yards, which ranks third all-time in the Southern Section, fifth in the state and ninth in the nation.
"It's no problem, Tim is capable," said SDSU receiver Keith Williams. "I just hope he is confident that he can do it because we think he can do it. It's full steam ahead for our offense."
Gutierrez, 6-feet-1, 205 pounds, redshirted his freshman year and came out of practice last spring as the No. 2 quarterback behind Lowery. He underwent shoulder surgery shortly afterward and then resumed his role as backup this fall.
"It's gone great," Gutierrez said of this week's practice sessions. "I've had some good practices. The offense is flowing pretty good. I'm trying to step in and play as if I were the starting quarterback."
The thought of starting a game for SDSU once was the furthest thing from Gutierrez's mind. During his freshman season, he said, he thought seriously about leaving the team.
"It's difficult coming out of high school as a--quote--star," Gutierrez said. "It's sort of a culture shock to come in here and sort of be thrown to the side. It gets your confidence low.
"I had low self-esteem. My family talked me into staying here."
Gutierrez, who turned 21 this month, took a recruiting trip to New Mexico before ultimately choosing SDSU, and the Aztecs, nationally ranked by Associated Press for the first time since 1977, are at New Mexico next week.
HE MAKES THEM GUN-SHY
Derrick Stewart, a first-team All-Western State Conference cornerback, is playing better than ever this fall for Santa Monica City College. But don't be surprised if he never makes the all-state team.
He might be playing too well.
"The problem with getting Derrick honors is that people won't throw to his side," Santa Monica Coach Owen Hahn said. "He won't get a lot of interceptions because teams go away from him."
Hahn used the Corsairs' opener against top-ranked Saddleback as an example. "They threw near him twice," Hahn said. "And he picked one off and knocked down the other. After that, they just said, 'Well, we'll just stay over here on the other side.' "
Stewart (5-feet-10, 185 pounds), an All-City player at Granada Hills, bench-presses 365 pounds and Hahn says he has been timed in 4.35 seconds for 40 yards. Last spring he ran a 47.1-second 400-meter leg as part of Santa Monica's 1,600-meter relay team.
"He's a marvelous athlete and a marvelous player," Hahn said. "He may not get any big honors but there is big (recruiting) interest in him."
A HELPING FOOT
Rachel Wackerman, who scored 66 goals in her first two seasons at Cal Lutheran, needed seven matches to score her first this year, in a 4-1 soccer victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Wednesday.
"We've almost changed Rachel's role this season from a goal scorer to a creator of goals," Coach George Kuntz said. Wackerman also has three assists.
The Regals have won three of four matches after starting the season 1-2. All of their defeats have come against Division II teams.
Kuntz, who has had to mesh several freshmen and sophomores into his starting lineup, said the team has improved. Helping to generate that improvement was a 90-minute meeting after Monday's 1-0 loss at San Francisco State.
"We solved a lot of problems and put everything behind us," Kuntz said.
Cal Lutheran, 4-3 and 3-0 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, will play host to UC Santa Cruz in a nonconference game at 3 p.m. today.
The Cal Lutheran men's soccer team has four shutouts in six matches, prompting Kuntz to say the goalkeeping is "the best it's ever been because we have depth."
Josh Green, a junior from San Diego Mesa College, has three shutouts and an 0.6 goals-against average in four starts and Angelo Maccano, a junior from Moorpark College, has one shutout and an 0.48 goals-against average in two starts.
The Kingsmen are 3-2-1, the blemishes coming against Division I or II teams.
"During the first part of the season we didn't try to play too exciting," Kuntz said. "We decided to play it safe because our fitness level wasn't up."
Plenty of running and weightlifting has since raised that fitness level, Kuntz said.
The Kingsmen will open SCIAC play today with a 10 a.m. game against host Caltech, a team Kuntz described with a smile as a "very cerebral one." Sunday, Cal Lutheran will visit Division I Cal State Northridge for a 6 p.m. game.
"Speed-wise, we're not at the same level as Northridge," Kuntz said. "Our players are looking forward to that game. They want to be measured against the best."
Staff writers Steven Herbert, Mike Hiserman and Scott Miller contributed to this notebook.