Al Golden chooses Vaughn Charlton at QB over Chester Stewart.
Redshirt junior Vaughn Charlton and redshirt sophomore Chester Stewart battled for the top quarterback spot on the depth chart from spring practice throughout most of August. On Football Media Day, coach Al Golden finally ended the quarterback competition and named Charlton the starter for Thursday night’s game against Villanova.
“Both kids did a tremendous job, and they both knew the day was going to come where we will select one of them,” Golden said. “Right now, our decision is to go with Vaughn. We like both players as quarterbacks, but we have to go with one and build the offense around him.”
Golden said the older Charlton edged out Stewart by showing more maturity and protecting the ball better. No particular scrimmage, practice or play put Charlton on top. Instead, it was his body of work over the course of the offseason.
“It was very [last] minute, and it was splitting hairs in a lot of ways,” Golden said. “I am excited about both of these guys and the way they handled it and the way they’re competing and working together.”
Charlton said he did not know he would be picked to start at quarterback, adding that experience from his quarterback battle with Adam DiMichele in his first two years at Temple helped get him through the offseason.
“From the first two years, I’m used to the competition and how to perform in that,” he said. “I just think I got my mental game squared away and learned how to handle these situations.”
Charlton said he focused on the game’s mental side, reading books like Dr. Bob Rotella’s “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect” and W. Timothy Gallwey’s “The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance” to help relieve pressure.
Due to an offseason of splitting reps at the quarterback spot, the offense will not look different depending on who is under center. Golden said both quarterbacks are prepared to play and run the offense.
“I don’t think it matters who the quarterback is,” senior tight end Steve Maneri said. “It doesn’t make much of a difference to me. They’re both good quarterbacks. They’re both great athletes, and they both have great arms.”
But Golden said he plans to stick with Charlton to avoid a quarterback carousel over the course of the season.
“Right now, Vaughn is our starter, and I don’t want to get into any of these situations where we’re changing quarterbacks every series,” Golden said.
As he enters the season, Charlton said he’s not concerned about losing the starting job and will take the season “one game at a time.”
“Right now, I’m just trying to minimize pressure and get myself ready to come out for the first game, just relax and play,” Charlton said. “Chester is a great quarterback. It was just a really long battle.”
Charlton’s ability to minimize pressure will be a key to the Owls’ season. Sports Illustrated picked the Owls to go to a bowl game this year, something the team has not done since 1979.
“I just wanted to go out and play and not have to worry about all the emotion and other stuff,” Charlton said. “I try to block it all out. It’s best to just concentrate on that one opponent for the week. It relieves the pressure of any long-term goals.”
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.