To play him or not to play him, that is the burning question.
As of right now, no answer has been given.
Redshirt senior quarterback Adam DiMichele remains a game-time decision.
“I’ve been saying all along that we’ll take it right up to Sunday or Monday just to have a good feel for where he’s at,” coach Al Golden said. “If we just leave it up to him, he’s going to play. We have to do what’s in the best interests of the young man’s health, and obviously, what’s in the best interests of the team because if you name him the starter right now and he can’t go out there, then you’ve wasted a lot of practices on somebody that’s not functional.”
Just last week, Golden said DiMichele could only throw as deep as 15 yards.
And it’s those deep balls that continue to give him trouble.
“His velocity is increasing, and his distance is improving, but I can’t name him the starter,” Golden said. “Because if there’s any deep balls or any plays where the quarterback’s handling the ball in the running game, we’re opting for Chester [Stewart] right now.”
DiMichele injured his right throwing shoulder on Sept. 20 against then-No.16 Penn State. On the Owls’ opening drive, Penn State sophomore defensive end Aaron Maybin blew by redshirt junior offensive tackle Devin Taylor, sacking DiMichele from his blind side and injuring that shoulder.
Since then, the Owls have seen their offense struggle to score points. In DiMichele’s three full games, the team averaged 24 points per game. In Stewart’s four, it is averaging half that number.
Delving even further into the statistics shows how much the offense has suffered in the absence of its senior leader. DiMichele has 41 fewer total plays than Stewart this season, yet still leads the redshirt freshman in total yards, completion percentage and most importantly, touchdowns.
“It’s hard going from a 23-year-old man in Adam to a 19-year-old kid in Chester,” Golden said. “It’s going to be tough in terms of execution.”
That was never more evident than in the Oct. 11 road game against the defending Mid-American Conference Champions, Central Michigan.
Stewart threw three interceptions, including one at the start of the fourth quarter that led to the Chippewas’ final touchdown, a 37-yarder on the next play.
“[DiMichele] was starting to get the bug last week,” Golden said. “He wanted to play out at Mt. Pleasant. He wanted to get in the game. He thought he could do something, but he just couldn’t.”
Even if DiMichele does start tonight against Ohio, that doesn’t mean Stewart won’t see playing time.
“That doesn’t preclude us from putting Chester in the game. We may want to have Chester in the game as well, depending on where [DiMichele] is at.”
Tonight’s game would be the first time DiMichele has faced the Bobcats during his time at Temple. In last year’s matchup in Athens, Ohio, it was then-sophomore backup quarterback Vaughn Charlton who got the start in place of an injured DiMichele. The Owls lost the game 23-7.
“My biggest concern is the same the doctors have. Can he protect himself?” Golden said. “If he can’t do that, we’re not going to jeopardize the young man. We’re not going to put him in that situation because if he’s given the choice, he’s going to play. We’ll have to make that decision independent of what he wants to do.”
It’s a decision that could make or break the Owls’ MAC and Bowl Game chances this season.
And one that even teammates remain in the dark about.
“I really haven’t seen anything,” junior defensive end Brian Sanford said.
“Look, if he’s ready to play, he’ll start. If he’s ready to go, he’ll start,” Golden said. “A win would really just give us the juice that we need right now going down the home stretch.”
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.