Temple QB aims for conference glory

Temple quarterback Chester Stewart , a redshirt junior,said: "I will work to be the top quarterback in the MAC."
Temple quarterback Chester Stewart , a redshirt junior,said: "I will work to be the top quarterback in the MAC."
Posted: August 15, 2010

Chester Stewart isn't concerned about statistics.

Yet the Temple redshirt junior quarterback is determined to leave his mark this season in the Mid-American Conference.

"My goal is to be the top quarterback," Stewart said. "Whatever statistic that is [needed], I really don't know, and I don't care. I will work to be the top quarterback in the MAC."

That's a lofty goal for a signal-caller who started just four games last season. Not to mention, he completed just 40 percent (26 of 65) of his passes.

But "he has matured a lot," Temple sophomore running back Bernard Pierce said. "He's become one of our biggest leaders on the team. . . . I would think that he is really ready for the role that he is going to play this year."

With a Heisman Trophy candidate in Pierce, one would assume Stewart's role will be limited to mostly handing off the ball.

A year ago, Pierce gained 1,361 yards and scored a school-record 16 rushing scores in 12 games.

Meanwhile, Stewart split time with fifth-year senior Vaughn Charlton as the starting quarterback.

Stewart, who passed for 514 yards, three touchdowns and threw three interceptions, was 3-1 as a starter. He had a team-best pass-efficiency rating of 112.4.

Stewart, however, didn't get the nod as this season's designated starting quarterback until after Charlton requested a move to tight end during spring practice.

Right now, redshirt freshman Chris Coyer and redshirt junior Mike Gerardi are battling to become Stewart's backup.

"Every day, I want to get better and feel like I'm being pushed to a different level or my spot is in jeopardy," he said. "I'm not really thinking about whether I'm the permanent starter right now.

"I'm going to work in practice as if I'm second string."

It was that type of thinking that kept the mobile quarterback motivated throughout off-season workouts. In addition to improving his speed, the 6-foot-3, 214-pounder lost 11 pounds.

His weight loss isn't the only noticeable change.

He displayed a calm yet confident and demanding presence during Temple's first summer practice at Edberg-Olson Hall on Saturday.

Even though Pierce is the Heisman candidate, Stewart's demeanor made it clear that this is the quarterback's team.

"He makes sure everybody is organized, everybody is out on time [for practice], and everybody is where they need to be at a specific time," Pierce said.

For now, he's focused on making sure the Owls are getting prepared for the season-opener against Villanova.

Temple faces the reigning Football Championship Subdivision national champions in the second annual Mayor's Cup on Sept. 3 at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Wildcats won last season's contest, 27-24.

"We want to try to win every game," said Stewart, whose squad is coming off a 9-4 campaign. "So that's just what we are going to try to do."


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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