Temple's Addazio names Stewart his starting QB

Chester Stewart in action against Penn State. He passedfor 28 yards and rushed for 16 more on Saturday.
Chester Stewart in action against Penn State. He passedfor 28 yards and rushed for 16 more on Saturday. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 21, 2011

Coming off the bench, starting - it doesn't matter how Chester Stewart prepares.

The fifth-year senior approaches every practice as if he's Temple's starting quarterback. And this Saturday against Maryland at Byrd Stadium, he actually will be the starter.

First-year coach Steve Addazio announced Monday that Stewart will start in place of Mike Gerardi for the Owls (2-1).

"It feels good, but no difference, really," said the DeMatha Catholic product, who started the first seven games last season.

"I knew I would play in the other games," he added. "So I had to keep the same mind-set."

Addazio didn't rule out also using Gerardi, who started the first three games, against the Terrapins (1-1). Nor did the coach endorse Stewart as the permanent starter.

"When you have a guy that is ready and it creates a little competition, that's a good thing," Addazio said. "So I would never want to predict down the road. Let's see how this thing goes.

"Suffice to say, I think we have two very capable guys, who have proved that they can be capable and therein lies some positives."

The coach added the decision to switch starting quarterbacks was based on game performance.

After missing the first game due to a team suspension, Stewart has completed 4-of-8 passes for 46 yards during the two games. He also has 12 carries for 36 yards.

A chunk of Stewart's statistics came in last Saturday's 14-10 setback to Penn State. He went 3-of-6 passing for 28 yards and had 16 rushing yards after being inserted late in the second quarter to run the spread. Stewart played through the third quarter.

He is also the more athletic quarterback and is better suited to run Temple's spread-offense sets.

More than just a dual threat, Stewart said he can bring leadership to an offense that's ranked 107th nationally out of 120 teams in passing offense.

"My leadership skills, you know, just keep guys going," he said. "And I will be able to manage the team. I've been there before."

Gerardi could argue the same thing.

The junior had started in eight consecutive games, dating back to last season.

This season, Gerardi has completed 30-of-59 passes for 423 yards to go with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

However, both of his interceptions came in the fourth quarter against the Nittany Lions, and his second pick set up Penn State's game-winning touchdown.

Gerardi and Stewart had been battling for the starting job throughout the spring and summer camps.

However, Gerardi, ultimately, beat out sophomore Chris Coyer after Stewart was placed on suspension.

Other than saying he made a poor decision, Stewart wouldn't disclose why he was suspended.

He did acknowledge that being unable to play against Villanova humbled him. And in the process, it might have made him a better leader.

"It made me feel bad in a sense that I wasn't out there for my team," Stewart said. "I was really disappointed.

"I just learned that I can't make any bad decisions that may hurt my career and my team."

TV ratings: Temple was a national television hit on Saturday. The ESPN televised game against Penn State drew a 1.6 national rating that translates to a Temple record 1,610,190 households and 1,953,851 viewers.

Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939, kpompey@phillynews.com, or @pompeysgridlock on Twitter. Read his blog "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/owlsinq, and "Recruiting Central" at www.philly.com/keithpompey.


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