If there is only one college football game you need to watch this weekend, it's the Army-Navy game. No other game matters.
What's that you say? This is the ONLY game this week? Minor details. A rivalry game like this deserves it's own weekend. Since there is so much to cover, each day will be dedicated to a different aspect of the game. Mitchell Northam, who covers Navy, and I will offer our view points throughout the week then end with our predictions on Friday.
Today, we will examine the play of both quarterbacks.
CT: Army has used two signal callers this season, but it would be a safe assumption the start would go to the senior Angel Santiago. Expect Coach Jeff Monken to spell in juniorA.J. Schurr, but Santiago is the better passer and one of the leaders on the team. His last game will be an attempt to end Navy's 12 game winning streak, the longest streak in this rivalry.
Santiago leads the team in carries with 182 and trails senior Larry Dixon in rushing yards with 793. While he and Schurr each have only one passing touchdown and one interception on the season, Santiago has completed 35 of 68 for 488 yards. Schurr has only attempted 25 passes, completing 11 of them. (Somewhere, Baylor's Bryce Petty is laughing at these seasonal stats, which combined equal his totals for about two games). What Santiago offers, other than veteran leadership, is the ability to command the game from under center and put his players in the best position to make plays.
The triple-option offense lives and dies with the quarterback, and Santiago has shown that he can make the plays to operate at a high level. The issue that Army faces offensively is getting consistent production from the running backs. Santiago has made some great reads this season that the backs fail to optimize on. If Army hopes to end this 12 game losing streak to Navy, who runs a similar offense, then Santiago must have a career game. Navy will come in well prepared for this game, so the key is Santiago making the right decision at least 75% of the time.
MN: All season long - as I have written a hundred times before – this Navy Midshipmen team lives and dies with their quarterback Keenan Reynolds and will continue to do so until he graduates.
In the beginning of the season he struggled with interceptions, fumbles and injuries, but so did the rest of this Navy team. Since starting the season 2-4, Reynolds and this Navy team are rolling, going 4-1 in their last five games. That one loss came at the hands of Notre Dame by just 10 points.
In those last five games, Reynolds has scored 15 touchdowns (that’s an average of 21 points-per-game for those of you keeping score) to just one interception. It seems like the early season woes of fumbled snaps and handoffs have faded too.
Reynolds led the Mids in a tight win against Army in 2012, and last year he owned them with three rushing touchdowns in a 34-7 win. If Reynolds can get into a groove early then he and the Mids should roll over Army for the 13th straight season.
EDGE: I think this is a push as far as QB play. Both QBs protect the football, put their players in positions to succeed, and they both can throw the ball when needed to keep the defense honest. Athletically, I feel that Reynolds is a bit more agile, but not enough to say he is better than Santiago. We both agree that these teams, more than most teams, will rely heavily on the play of their QBs.
Next Up: Skill Position Players