On page 28 of the media guide is a small biography of quarterback Ron Lopez. There's no picture, but that's understandable since he didn't sign on until just before fall two-a-days.
In fact, he didn't sign on at all - the media guide in question here is Long Beach State's.And, yes, it's the same Ron Lopez who could very well start soon at quarterback for Utah State University - maybe even today at 1 p.m. when the 0-1 and as-yet-scoreless Aggies host the 0-1 and as-yet-scoreless 49ers in Romney Stadium as a warmup to the Beach Boys concert.
Utah State Coach Chuck Shelton says he won't disclose his quarterback until game time, but he's said all week he's "open-minded" about it. "The guy that starts will play most of the game," Shelton says, adding both Lopez, the JC transfer, and incumbent starter Kirk Johnson practiced well this week.
That Johnson didn't get the outright nod, as he did for last week's 19-0 loss to Utah, indicates Shelton's lingering disbelief at the Aggie offense. Not that it was all Johnson's fault, but, "I could not have conceived of that kind of outing," says Shelton. Not even against a Nebraska, he said.
Lopez took at least some snaps with the first team this week, and he says he's learned the offense enough to play. "I've pretty much got it; I just needed the extra week," he said.
The reason he needed an extra week is the same reason he's an oddity, listed in both 49er and Aggie media guides.
Because he had little guidance and few solid courses in high school, he went to a junior college that emphasized football above all else. Later he realized he'd need more to eventually go to a four-year school and switched to Glendale College. He still needed summer school. That meant missing spring drills and starting with his new team in August, far behind teammates. USU's interest waned. So did that of others.
Arizona State said it might wait but gave the scholarship to another player and left Lopez scrambling.
He was interested in Long Beach, near home in LA, and Utah State.
Both offered an opportunity to start quickly. Lopez chose USU "because I wanted to get away from home and see what else was out there," he says. No problems at home, he emphasizes, just more world to experience.
"I notified Long Beach late," he admits, which is why he's listed in the 49er media guide.
Lopez didn't set Division I on its ear in his debut when he took over for an injured Johnson and handed to Floyd Foreman on fourth-and-1 at the Ute goal. Foreman was caught behind the line, and USU lost its best chance to score.
On the next series, Lopez forced two incomplete passes into traffic, then threw an interception. "I was trying to make something happen," he says, adding he was spun by a defensive lineman as he threw the interception. The coaches didn't berate him for it because of circumstances. "It was a chance I had to take. I took it upon myself," he says.
Shelton says USU wasn't aggressive. That was priority this week in physical workouts. "We're practicing away like happy little campers," he says.AGGIE CHANGES - Guard Greg O'Banion is out after last week's shoulder stingers. Right offensive tackle isn't stable because Charlie Smith's still out, and Joe Moore returned Wednesday. Center Warren Bowers moves to left guard and Armando D'Avila starts at center. Defensively, due to a death in Ron Edwards' family, Atu Fihaki will start at cornerback.