n Freshman surprise: Redshirt freshman Chris Mandarino got his first start at fullback last week and made a good impression with three catches for 41 yards, including a great catch on an 18-yard touchdown reception.
A quarterback, tailback and linebacker in at Newport Beach High in Newport, Mandarino has gained 20 pounds to make himself a more effective blocker as a fullback. A former walk-on, he earned the starting job and a scholarship this summer when senior Ryan Stanger was injured and took a medical redshirt.
“Some things happened at the fullback spot, and I had the opportunity to win the job,” Mandarino said. “I won it, and I was fortunate enough to keep it in fall camp.”
Head coach Jeff Tedford praised Mandarino for his all-around performance against Baylor.
“He’s very dependable,” Tedford said. “He makes very few mental mistakes and he blocks well. If you’re a fullback in this system, you have to be able to catch the ball.”
n A new tradition: Tedford called for fans to turn up early before Saturday’s game against New Mexico State. The team will arrive at Maxwell Family Field (formerly Kleeberger Field) at 1:30 p.m., two hours before kickoff, and march to Memorial Stadium. Tedford would like fans to line the route to cheer for the team.
“I’ve seen it in other places and it can give you goose bumps. It would be great to walk and see the people show their support,” he said.
n Injury report: Wide receivers Chase Lyman and Junior Brignac are both doubtful for Saturday’s game against New Mexico State. Lyman has been cleared for a broken finger but is still battling a hamstring injury, while Brignac has yet to recover from a sprained ankle. Defensive tackles Daniel Nwangwu and Josh Beckham, both starters before coming up injured before last week’s game, should both be available on Saturday although neither is listed as a starter. Lorenzo Alexander and Tom Sverchek started in their places against Baylor and should keep their positions again on Saturday.
n Tricky: Tedford pulled out two trick plays against Baylor, both successful. He said trick plays will be part of the game plan every week, although whether to use them will depend on the game situation. The Bears used only one quarter of the game plan last week.