The Black Knights offense did lead the nation in rushing for the second consecutive year as they ran for a school record 4,438 yards. The problem for Army
is that they committed too many fumbles, often failed to finish promising drives and lacked a threat at wide receiver to keep defenses honest. Armysports.com will grade how each position fared during this turnaround season.
It is going to be hard to envision Army's offense without quarterback Trent Steelman
. Steelman has been the face of Army football for the last four years as he started an amazing 46 games. He leaves holding numerous records. He was the Black Knights first freshman to start a season opener at quarterback in the modern era. Trent is the only player in school history to throw and run for more than 2,000 yards. This season he surpassed legendary Army Heisman Trophy winner Glenn "Mr. Outside" Davis as the all-time career leader in touchdowns at West Point with 45 touchdowns. He also finished his career ranked in the top five in the program's history in rushing yards and total yards.
As a senior Trent Steelman (1,248 rushing yards, 5.2 avg., 17 TDs) had his best season running the ball. He played some of the best football of his career over the final six games. Steelman was never the biggest, fastest or most talented option quarterback but he was a warrior. Trent often played through pain and had surgery following the first three years of his career. Steelman demonstrated excellent leg strength in breaking tackles. He did a nice job in reading the option and his decision making was usually sound.
Trent's passing statistics were the polar opposite of his rushing campaign. Steelman experienced the worst passing year of his career. He completed just 47.8 percent of his passes for 667 yards with only one touchdown pass all year. Trent threw two interceptions this season and both were in the opener against San Diego State
. Steelman threw the ball better than his passing numbers suggest. He was often victimized by dropped passes from his receivers.
While Steelman needs to be admired for his heart, toughness and determination it not unfair to discuss his shortcomings. After winning 12 games his first two years, Steelman won only four of his last 21 starts during the final two seasons of his career. Trent was at times like the old cartoon character Joe Btfsplk in the Lil' Abner comic strip who was jinxed. Btfsplk walked around with a rain cloud hovering over his head as misfortune followed him. The defense couldn't stop anyone but Trent often hurt the team's chances with his 12 fumbles of which six were lost this year. There were times late game drives fell short (Northern Illinois
); he had bad luck were he left winnable games with an injury (Wake Forest
) and there were games where his fumbles cost the team an opportunity to win ( Stony Brook, Eastern Michigan
). To his credit Steelman ended this career playing the best football of his career. Trent's final touchdown run at Michie Stadium, a 56-yard touchdown run, to pass Glenn Davis was one of his best touchdown runs. People will always remember the poignant scene of Trent getting emotional during the playing of the alma maters after his final loss to Navy.
Back-up plebe quarterback A.J. Schurr
saw action at quarterback in four games last year and looks like he may be the heir apparent to Steelman. Schurr carried the ball 12 times for 47 rushing yards. He threw the ball well in his appearances completing 8-of-18 passes for 130 yards and a team leading two touchdown passes. Watching Schurr play reminds me a lot of Trent Steelman both with his running and arm strength. Schurr is a little smaller but has similar quickness. As a passer A.J. has an average arm for an option quarterback but is accurate and throws the ball very well on the move. Except for the Rutgers game, where he made a brief appearance and had a fumbled ball returned by Rutgers for a touchdown, Schurr looked poised under center.
Sophomore Angel Santiago
opened the season as back-up quarterback but his play seemed to have regressed. Santiago was tentative when he played and seemed unsure of his himself. His brief appearance late in the opener against San Diego State was forgettable. Two weeks later after Steelman left a close Wake Forest game with an injury, Santiago replaced him and was unable to move the team. On one play Angel was so focused on pitching the ball he held it too long and was buried in the running lane when he could have tucked the ball and gained ten yards himself. He lost his back up job after that shaky performance.
The Black Knights offense did lead the nation in rushing for the second consecutive year as they ran for a school record 4,438 yards. The problem for Army is that they committed too many fumbles, often failed to finish promising drives and lacked a threat at wide receiver to keep defenses honest.