Temple going with two-quarterback system

Chester Stewart's in starting QB battle.
Chester Stewart's in starting QB battle.
Posted: October 22, 2010

Last season, Temple won nine games without getting superior play from the quarterback position. So senior Vaughn Charlton was switched to tight end and junior Chester Stewart, who'd started seven times in 2008-09, took over on a full-time basis.

Now the Owls are 5-2, 2-1 in the Mid-American Conference, heading to Buffalo (2-4, 1-1), where they lost on a Hail Mary pass 2 years ago. And they will probably use two QBs: Stewart, who's been inconsistent, and junior Mike Gerardi, who came in last week at home against Bowling Green after Stewart threw an early interception that was returned for a touchdown and performed well enough.

Bowling Green is 1-6. Next week's opponent, Akron, has yet to win. Kent State (where they Owls will be on Nov. 6) is 2-4. So it might not matter too much who's taking the snaps, especially now that running back Bernard Pierce appears to be pretty much past the sprained ankle that hampered him for most of this past month. But the Owls only beat Bowling Green by stopping a two-point conversion pass at the end.

And Buffalo did win by two at Bowling Green in early October.

So . . .

"We're going to continue to let [Stewart and Gerardi] compete," said coach Al Golden. "We'll let it sort itself out [at practice]. We want to make sure we get the right combination there."

There's also redshirt freshman Chris Coyer, who came to North Broad Street with some serious expectations. But that's probably more of a storyline for some future date.

"Mike's finally reached the level where he could go in a game," Golden said. "We were concerned about that. He's starting to look more comfortable, on and off the field. You have to be able to conduct a game, understand what we're trying to get done. I think he has the talent. Now he's got the maturity and leadership to match it. That's why he got his opportunity.

"He has a little poise about him, and touch with the ball. It's not easy to go out there in Game 7 and do what he did. That's encouraging . . . If he'd had that maybe 2 months ago, it could have been one heck of a battle [in camp]."

Schedule favors 'Cats

A favorable schedule never hurts. Especially in the Colonial Athletic Assocation. Villanova (4-2, 2-1), ranked sixth in FCS, host No. 11 James Madison (4-2, 1-2), which beat Virginia Tech. Next week they get No. 16 Richmond (3-3, 1-2), also at home. After a trip to Rhode Island (2-4, 1-2), No. 10 New Hampshire (4-3, 2-2) will visit the Main Line, where the Wildcats have been virtually unbeatable the last few years.

That doesn't mean they'll be 8-2 when they bus to No. 2 Delaware (7-0, 4-0) to close out the regular season on Nov. 20, but it sure doesn't seem implausible. And Matt Szczur (ankle), who's missed the last three games and is still questionable, could even be healthy by then.

"I think we're poised for a run," said coach Andy Talley, who lost only once last year en route to a national title. "We're to the point where we're playing within the confines of who we have. No one's sitting back saying, 'When we get [Szczur] back we can do this or that.' We're where we want to be. I feel good about our chances.

"Our kids are real comfortable [playing] here. So it falls on us in a very, very good way."

Showdown at Yale

It's the game Quakers' (4-1, 2-0 Ivy League) coach Al Bagnoli dreads every-other year. And not just because of whom his team is playing.

The defending champion Quakers, No. 20 in FCS, are at Yale (4-1, 2-0). Brown, the other Ivy unbeaten, is at Franklin Field next week. But first headaches first. And, since Bagnoli was born in Connecticut, in this case that means lots of pregame stuff.

"You're talking ticket requests, parking requests, sideline passes," he explained. "For the first 2 hours I'm making sure everything's lined up correctly, not so much with whether we're lined up correctly. So it's my least favorite game . . . "

His starting quarterback, second-year freshman Billy Ragone, is also from that state.

"And it's our one grass game," Bagnoli continued. "As crazy as it sounds, it becomes almost a psycho-drama. Now [the players] don't feel that fast. You have to brainwash them. You know, this is what you grew up playing on. So that's a little bit of an issue, one more thing you have to address."

And you thought the biggest distraction was Bulldogs' QB Patrick Witt, a transfer from Nebraska?

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