With the start of Southeast Missouri State University's football season just one week away, it's looking more and more like quarterback Jeromy McDowell won't play very much -- if at all -- during the Aug. 29 opener against Division II Arkansas-Monticello.
Southeast coach Tim Billings said he believes McDowell might be ready for the contest at Houck Stadium, but thinks it would be better to not take any chances so McDowell will be able to go full bore the following week at Southern Illinois.
Billings said McDowell probably won't begin throwing again until next week, meaning he will have not done any throwing of substance in well over two weeks.
"We don't want to take any chances," Billings said.
The issue is McDowell's right (throwing) shoulder that underwent surgery in January and forced him to miss spring drills. McDowell threw some at the outset of preseason practice but has pretty much been shut down since.
Billings continues to express confidence -- although a bit shaky -- that McDowell will be healthy for the bulk of the season. He said doctors continue to say that, structurally, McDowell's shoulder is fine and that it's a matter of continuing to strengthen the muscles in the area of the surgery.
"I'm getting a little nervous as it gets closer to the season," Billings said. "But everything the doctors say, his shoulder looks fine. He's just going to keep rehabilitating it."
McDowell threw for 2,051 yards as a redshirt freshman last year despite being bothered by the shoulder and a sore knee that required surgery in the offseason.
Billings said he has confidence in both his other quarterbacks, junior-college transfer Jack Tomco and redshirt freshman Jeff East, who have received most of the repetitions in practice due to McDowell's status.
"They can both do a good job," Billings said.
But there's no doubt who the Indians' No. 1 quarterback is when healthy, Billings said. That label belongs to McDowell.
n Not that Billings is looking past Arkansas-Monticello -- which was 5-6 last year, has a new coach and will be a huge underdog to Southeast -- but he said the Indians won't seriously begin planning for the Boll Weevils until this weekend.
n After most of the first two weeks of practice were conducted in relatively mild temperatures for this time of year, the weather has gotten steamy again.
"We got lucky for a while, but we're paying for it now," offensive lineman Justen Meyer said.
n The Indians have had two full-scale scrimmages so far and Billings said they won't have more, due to a few key players still being out with injuries and several more still bothered by the lingering affects of the mysterious illness that hit more than one-third of the team recently.
In addition to McDowell, starting wide receiver Tarik Simpson (hamstring) and starting safety Prince Anderson (knee) have not practiced recently, although Billings is hopeful that both will be ready for the opener.