“I’ve watched him be made fun of,
doubted, laughed at, at points
throughout his career and just when
you think he’s beaten, he goes all
Joe Montana on your ass and wins
the unwinnable game.” – Me
Yep I just quoted myself. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want. But seriously after I wrote it I realized it is the exact reason why Case Keenum is my favorite football player ever.
There are a lot of questions I get asked as a sports writer and a fan about…you guessed it…Case Keenum. So let’s dig through my mailbag, Twitter account, Facebook posts, and face-to face questions, myths and criticisms I hear about Case Keenum.
And the Keenum uprising is happening again so it’s time I put this out there. Nothing new to me. This happens everywhere Keenum goes and it’s not going to stop until he gets a start at some point. He’s taken his NFL lumps and he’s ready. Next opportunity he’s not giving up that position.
Hey Kevin, what’s with the Keenum bromance? Why are you so high on this guy?
Because he is capable of being a Hall of Fame QB and winning Super Bowls. I GUARANTEE if given the chance by a coach who will stand by him it will happen. I realize that doesn’t really answer your question because you want to know why I believe those things but you’ll understand as I answer some of the other questions.
But to answer this question I must tell you I am an alumnus of the University of Houston, class of 2004 and I was in the press box, in training with the Houston Chronicle beat writer Michael Murphy, for Case’s first home game as a freshman. I’ve watched him be made fun of, doubted, laughed at, at points throughout his career and just when you think he’s beaten, he goes all Joe Montana on your ass and wins the unwinnable games.
I watched every game he played in college and you can call me biased but this is more than college loyalty. It’s about watching a guy that wins when he isn’t supposed to. He’s clutch. He’s Joe Montana and John Elway. If you play against him in a close game and he has time for one more drive you have that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach because you know he’s coming for your end zone.
Just ask Tulsa.
Or Texas Tech.
MYTH: Case Keenum is a “system QB.”
Keenum has been doubted his entire career. The “system QB” label on quarterbacks began at the University of Houston in 1989 when Andre Ware won the school’s only Heisman Trophy. The Cougars ran a pass-happy offense called the “run-and-shoot.”
Ware’s passing statistics were so ridiculous that even though UH was on probation at the time and could not be televised, Ware still won the Heisman. Three things happened that the sports media ran with and started the myth of the system QB.
The following year Ware left UH early for the NFL draft. A new QB stepped in for the 1990 season named David Klingler and he crushed Ware’s stats from the previous season. Klingler was a finalist but did not win the Heisman.
Why? Because the sports media decided that two quarterbacks at the same school running the same system, both posting ridiculous numbers had to mean it was gimmicky and had nothing to do with the QB’s talent.
Then something funny happened that no one noticed. In 1991, running the same system, Klingler and the Cougars fell on their faces.
Does that mean the system had a bad year and the players are not responsible just like Klingler was labeled as not responsible for his incredible 1990 stat line that was so much better than Ware’s?
Did the system have a bad year or did Klingler and his teammates who finished 4-7?
Here are some numbers to consider on Houston’s QBs who ran systems that were considered gimmicky. For the system QB theory to hold true all QBs shown here should have similar season stats barring injury.
One especially important statistic is in reference to the media saying the system in Houston was responsible for Keenum’s play and not Keenum himself. Keenum was affiliated with Houston for six seasons.
In 2006 he was red-shirted. In 2007 he was platooned with Blake Joseph for part of the season and was finally named the starter about midway through the year. In 2008 Keenum had a breakout season throwing for over 5,000 yards and getting the Cougars their first bowl game win since 1980. In 2009 Keenum became the first QB ever to post back-to-back 5,000 yard seasons. Then came 2010. Keenum sustained a very serious knee injury in the second game of what should have been his senior season. David Piland, under the same offense and supporting cast, led the Cougars to a 5-7 season. In 2011 Cougar fans were elated as Case was granted a sixth year of eligibility on a medical red-shirt for the 2010 season. Case returned better than ever leading Houston to the best record in school history at 13-1; topped off by a convincing win over Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl and a final ranking of #14.
The very important statistic I mentioned in regards to the supposed system QB theory is this. From 2007-2011 the Cougars were 39-15 with Case Keenum at QB. The offense stayed the same when Tony Levine became Head Coach. So we have a perfect comparison from 2007 to 2015 of 4 Keenum years and four non-Keenum years.
As we said the Cougars were 39-15 with Keenum. Without Keenum the Cougars have gone 26-24. Big difference. The system didn’t work so well without it’s star QB.
|14||Greg Ward Jr.||177||263||67.3||2010||12||7||N/A||8||5||Levine||N/A|
* Jenkins and Pardee ran the same offense as did Sumlin and Levine
**Red lettering denotes worst in category and green denotes best
Conclusion? Some QBs are not mentally capable of handling being an NFL player and it has nothing to do with size or systems etc. There are no system QBs. Myth busted.
MYTH: Keenum never faced real competition playing in CUSA
I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you that CUSA was a powerhouse. That would be a lie.I do believe it was at that time one of the better non-BCS conferences behind only the WAC and Mountain West depending on the year.
I can tell you that in his career Case was 4-1 against the Top 25 including a 45-35 road win over the #5 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in 2009 and a 70-30 demolishing of #24 Tulsa.
Keenum was 6-3 versus BCS opponents who often would not schedule Houston because of the very real possibility of the embarrassment of losing to a non-BCS team. So most like Texas A&M and the University of Texas opted to play Rice yearly instead. I have a lot of respect for Oklahoma State who in the past decade has lost to the Cougars twice but keep playing them. Same goes for Texas Tech who Houston has recently split two games with.
Then there is the story of Alabama. It was 2007, and although not ranked the Crimson Tide should have destroyed Houston playing at home. Bama won that game 30-24 but the real story was the ending. Keenum drove the length of the field as a freshman playing in front of 90,000-plus Bama fans and calmly got into their red zone with seconds left and barely missed the winning TD pass in front of 90,000 dead silent people. I will never forget former Houston Chronicle sports writer Michael Murphy telling me how incredible it was to see that many people sitting in total silence as this unknown freshman worked his magic. I truly believe given another year, in the same situation he would have pulled it off, but I can’t fault him for missing one as a freshman QB.
So add Keenum’s record against ranked opponents and BCS teams and what you get is a 10-4 record against formidable opposition. Myth Busted.
If Keenum is so great why didn’t he ever win the Heisman?
Well first go back and read the system QB section. Kevin Kolb had the numbers to be in the top five Heisman candidates in 2006. But he was dubbed a system QB running a gimmicky offense by his old Podunk High School coach who had no business on an NCAA field. I remember Steve Spurrier barely acknowledging Briles after beating him in the Liberty Bowl as if Briles was beneath him.
Then Art Briles recruited a QB to play at Houston named Robert Griffin III. I remember meeting him at an alumni tailgate before a game and him eating with us. Then, Briles of course took the job at Baylor, which by the way, at the time I thought would end his career. Sorry Mr. Briles. You resurrected Baylor. You are a Coaching Ninja.
Briles took RGIII and a few others with him. RGIII has a good year and won the 2011 Heisman on numbers that looked awful in comparison to Keenum’s. Briles ran the same offense the media dubbed “gimmicky” in Houston, at Baylor.
Let’s review. Kevin Kolb had the number to make the Top five Heisman finalists in 2006 but did not because of Art Briles’ offense. RGIII wins the Heisman with similar numbers in Art Briles’ offense. Anyone see the problem here?
Case Keenum owns every major NCAA passing record. But it has been said that he was never Heisman worthy because of Kevin Sumlin’s “gimmicky” offense. Sumlin then went to Texas A&M, ran the same offense and Johnny Manziel won the Heisman with numbers that never touched Keenum’s best years, running the same offense.
And don’t tell me about the level of competition, because we’ve already established Case went 10-4 against the big boys.
If Case Keenum had played at Baylor for Briles, or at A&M for Sumlin he’d have a Heisman. He did win two Sammy Baugh Trophies for being the best QB in NCAA football. If that were true and it was, why give the Heisman to a QB you just said was not as good as Keenum by naming Keenum the best NCAA QB?
Keenum never won a Heisman because of bias toward CUSA and the University of Houston. If he was the product of a pass-happy offense then so was Manziel and RGIII. Let’s look at the numbers.
For each year I researched I pulled up stats for the Heisman Trophy winner and the Cougar QB for comparison.
Again this completely demolishes the system QB theory.Now as to who should have won the Heisman you can see I posted the numbers comparing the Cougar QB to the Heisman winner. I have no problem with any of the decisions except 2011. That is a travesty as Houston had a far better record, a nearly identical ranking in the polls and there is no comparison in the stats. Case Keenum was robbed of the Heisman in 2011.
But Keenum finished 7th with only 10 first place votes. Why? Because he ran Kevin Sumlin’s offense which inflated his numbers according to voters.
But in 2012, Johnny Manziel couldn’t even inflate his numbers in the same offense with the same coach and still won the Heisman.
Explain that one to me.
If Keenum is so great why didn’t he get drafted?
Because he is 6′ 1″ and that’s too small for a QB according to scouts that care more about size than winning football games. And also it’s been said by NFL media over and over that his numbers were inflated by Sumlin’s offense.
But Manziel stands at 6′ 1″ and came from the very same offense as Keenum. Manziel was drafted 22nd overall while Keenum went undrafted.
If Keenum is so great why did he go 0-8 in 2013?
If Peyton Manning is so great why did he go 2-14 in his rookie year? Get the point?
If Keenum is so great why did O’Brien get rid of him twice?
If he sucks so bad why did Jeff Fisher pick him up twice?
He gave O’Brien’s 7-7 team a chance to make the playoffs by winning the last two games for the Texans after being called out of a deer stand in Missouri.
Oh and since O’Brien has joined the Texans their front office has started to make the worst personnel decisions in the league. He got rid of the face of the Texans, Andre Johnson.He had a chance to speak to Andre Johnson and work out some way to trade him out of the division and get value in return. Instead he let his Hall of Fame Wide Receiver go to the best team in his own division that he hasn’t beaten since 2011, the Colts. And they won’t beat the Colts this year either but they get the added insult of Johnson torching them every chance he gets. And by the way, Andre Johnson said, “Case Keenum is a wide receiver’s dream at QB.” I think Andre knows a good QB when he sees one.
Case Keenum embodies what Houston football is all about and I’ll never forgive O’Brien for getting rid of the hometown kid, the underdog, the great story.
Sometimes he loses and loses big but this may be the most important part. He is mentally tough. Remember Matt Schaub having one bad game that snowballed into the end of his career? Remember David Carr never starting for another team after taking a beating with the Texans? That’s lack of the mental toughness required to be a great NFL QB.
Case once thew six interceptions to lose a Bowl Game to Air Force. He came back the next year and dominated. He went 0-8 with the Texans in 2013. He got called back the next year and went 2-0. He’s mentally resiliant
He commands a huddle like Peyton Manning. Every coach I have known him to play for from college to the pros says he is always the first player there and the last to leave. That’s Briles, Sumlin, Kubiak, O’Brien and Fisher.
He’s clutch. He got the “it” factor. When the ball is in his hands you just know something good is going to happen.
If you don’t know him watch his highlights. Players like Case Keenum are what makes football the greatest sport in the world.
Bombs away Case!