Quarterback talk

Starting quarterback was a hot topic earlier in the season.

Not so much with two games left in the 2014 campaign.

Senior Angel Santiago has taken over for good, starting the last five games over junior A.J. Schurr.

Santiago’s protected the ball better than quarterbacks in the recent past. He’s been credited with five lost fumbles in 10 games.

Army’s triple-option offense has had its ups and downs like the rest of the team this season. Coach Jeff Monken said there’s plenty of blame to go around for Army’s 3-7 start.

It’s not just the quarterback’s fault.

“We’ve had games where we’ve had our chances to win and others where we probably could have won,” Monken said. “It wasn’t all on him (Santiago),” Monken said. “Partly, it was him but we are all involved. If we are all going to take credit for the victories and say, ‘Hey, we were part of the victory,’ then we all need to say, ‘I’m part of the reason why we got beat.’

“He’s handled it really well. He’s not pointing the finger at anyone else. He always wants to know what he can do better to better help our team. He’s a competitive kid, who wants to win. He feels badly when a mistake falls on his shoulders. He takes it hard. I think that’s good. He’s not pointing fingers. He understands that it’s his responsibility to play the best he can play and be a leader for the rest of the guys at that position.”

Monken was asked if he was second-guessing himself for not sticking with Schurr, who started at Yale on Sept. 27 and against Ball State on Oct. 4.

“Frankly, A.J. has just had trouble getting the snap,” Monken said. “When you line up and you put your hands under center and you can’t get a snap, it’s hard. We’ve had trouble with that even with Angel. I think A.J. is really athletic. I think they are both tough kids. But, we’ve had practices where he’s (Schurr) dropped four or five snaps in one practice. It’s hard to say that he’s going to go out there and be the guy if that’s the case. How do you trust the ball is not going to hit the ground and somebody is going to kick it and the other team is going to get it. We have to maintain possession of the ball. If we are -1 on turnover margin in a game, our chances of winning go way down. If we are -2, we’re probably getting beat for sure. I don’t think there’s any question because of the limited possessions we have. You just can’t give them up.

“I love A.J.  I think he’s a great kid. I think he’s competitive and tough. You want to be sure that you are going to be able to handle the first part (the snap) of it and he knows that. It’s not something that we have hidden from him or said, “Hey,  just hang in there.’ (We’ve said), ‘here’s why’ (you aren’t playing). Angel has a lot of game experience. He turned it over against UConn and we are disappointed he did that but he’s done a decent job of taking care of it.”

Santiago will make his 21st career start on Senior Day against Fordham Saturday at Michie Stadium.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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