Army 2014 Football Review: Quarterbacks

ArmySports.com offers our review of the Army 2014 football season. ArmySports.com’s Jim Lawler discusses each position of the team and assigns a final grade. In this segment we discuss the quarterbacks.

QUARTERBACKS: C-
Angel Santiago did a decent job running the new spread option offense but the offense highlighted his limitations. He played in every game and started ten. Santiago was tough, accountable, and was solid in his decision making. He had the ability to read the defense and manage the game. The Brent Davis spread option offense has the quarterback and fullback run the ball 75 percent of the time. That works if your option quarterback is Navy's Keenan Reynolds but not as well when your quarterback has average at best athletic ability. Santiago was not a playmaker, lacked top end running speed or a very quick burst, didn't break many tackles and his arm strength was below average. His game manager strengths were better suited to running the previous regimes wishbone attack that put the ball more in the hands of running backs Baggett and Maples. Angel ran for 814 yards, a 4.2 yard per carry average and had a team leading 10 touchdowns. He ran for over one hundred yards just twice this season.

As a passer he started the year being extremely proficient as he completed 78 percent of his passes during the first five games. Santiago’s limitations as a passer were exposed during the three game midseason skid when he was forced to throw ten times or more in those contests. Angel was only able to connect on 10-of-32 passes during that losing streak. His weakness as a passer was especially obvious when he is forced to throw deep. Angel was fairly accurate but his ball lacked zip when he threw downfield. Santiago ended the season completing 35-of-70 passes (50%) for 488 yards with a touchdown and interception. He was hurt by the injury plagued offensive line which had the worse sack percentage allowed in the nation. Santiago's strength was his ability to run the offense while avoiding a lot of turnovers. He had only five lost fumbles all year and had eight games were he didn't lose a fumble which is excellent for an option quarterback. This new offense asked for a lot more in the running game from the quarterback which didn’t play to Angel's strengths since he was not a dynamic runner. Santiago did a solid job if unspectacular job the last two seasons. He was the best choice the staff had at quarterback this season.

Backup quarterback A.J. Schurr continues to be an enigma. Schurr impressed me initially at USMAPS and since then with his athleticism but while he shows bursts of promise he seems to make many of the same mistakes he made at the prep school. He is inconsistent, makes poor decisions running the option and had the durability of a china doll this past season. He started two games and ran well. He carried the ball 45 times for 320 yards, a 7.1 average with three scores. The Fordham game showed the best and worst of AJ. He came off the bench and showed good speed as his 54-yard run to spark the offense but he was hurt went he was tackled and missed the rest of the first half. Schurr opened the third quarter under center and directed a touchdown drive that saw him run over Rams Mike linebacker Austin Hancock. Schurr injured himself running a play when he took a misstep without even being hit and then missed the rest of the game.

The Monken staff tried to hand him the keys to the offense because he was more physically talented than Santiago but he never responded with reliable play. He was knocked out of three games this year despite his limited playing time. Schurr still has some of the same issues he had since running the option at the prep school. He tends to force the pitch to covered slotbacks often getting them blown up and will make poor decisions when pressured. We saw that in the Navy game when he replaced an injured Santiago. Schurr killed a promising drive with two poor reads in a row late in the game. At the Navy 38-yard-line he forced a pitch to Terry Baggett for no gain instead of turning it up for a few yards himself. On the next play he once again had a running lane but instead panicked and chose to reverse field where he had no blockers and was hit and fumbled the ball and Navy recovered. Schurr has to stop making these dumb plays if he wants to be the starter next season. As a passer Schurr completed 12-of-28 passes (42.9%) for 242 yards with a touchdown pass and interception. AJ's ball security issues hold him back and he seems to have a lot of trouble handling a slick ball in bad weather. This year he was benched when the ball hit the ground twice in the first half against Ball State. Schurr had the same struggles against Navy last year and at USMAPS on a snow covered field at Columbia against their JV when he was benched and replaced by Kelvin White after two turnovers. Schurr has ability but he must be more durable and consistent next year if he is to become the starter.

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