San Diego State football: QB’s starting job safe, despite rough day

By THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH  • 
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As San Diego State swept its final four regular-season football games to secure its first Mountain West Conference championship in 2012, quarterback Adam Dingwell appeared perfectly capable under center. That final stretch saw him complete 64 percent of his passes for 590 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions.

However, Dingwell’s dismal performance in a season-opening home loss to Eastern Illinois on Saturday more than nine months later seemed to show a sudden regression as a junior.

Poor decisions and heavy pressure contributed to a rough day for Dingwell in the 40-19 defeat: 27-of-63 passing for 318 yards, four interceptions and three fumbles (one lost).

Still, there won’t be any reshuffling of the depth chart when San Diego State visits Ohio Stadium on Saturday to face No. 3 Ohio State.

“Adam had a tough day, but he’s still our starting quarterback,” coach Rocky Long said during a conference call on Monday.

Dingwell had ascended to the top of the depth chart before an Oct. 27 game last season when Ryan Katz suffered a broken ankle. Early on during camp in August, Dingwell was named the starter over sophomore Chad Jeffries and junior-college transfer Quinn Kaehler.

But speculation about his status as the starter has grown. Counting a loss to Brigham Young in the Poinsettia Bowl in December, the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder from Rockwall, Texas, has thrown seven interceptions in his past two games.

“I don’t see him on a hot seat,” said quarterbacks coach Brian Sipe, a former Cleveland Browns star. “I’m absolutely convinced — and I think the players are — that he’s our man. He’s the leader of the team. He has the intangibles that are very important. And I expect him to play well on Saturday.”

Dingwell has not been made available to the media since the loss to Eastern Illinois.

With Dingwell’s status clear, Long says the Aztecs are moving forward. They plan to simplify things to make Dingwell’s job easier, especially against a Buckeyes defense that gains cornerback Bradley Roby from a one-game suspension.

“We hope to trim the offense down a little bit so we can concentrate on doing things the right way,” Long said. “Hopefully, we don’t give him too much to think about so he can execute up to his ability.”

A chunk of Dingwell’s problems against Eastern Illinois originated late in the game, Sipe said, as the Aztecs were forced to throw heavily. Trailing by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Dingwell threw two interceptions. His 63 pass attempts were more than double his career high of 29 against BYU.

Sipe’s message to Dingwell heading into week two: turn the page. 

“Quarterbacks have to put their blinders on and keep focused on what’s in front of them, not what’s in back,” Sipe said. “He’ll do a very good job with that. He did a great job for us last year. He always responded.”

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman

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