By Paul M. Banks
You know these quarterback names: Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow. Even people who have never been interested in college football have heard of Tebow, or at least they’ve heard the ginormous hype surrounding him. But there’s no ginormous hype surrounding Houston Cougars QB Case Keenum, who’s put up the biggest passing numbers in the nation. Compare these stats:
Comp Att % Y Td Int
144 210 69 1696 13 2
3rd nationally for TD passes and Yards, 5th in completion percentage
44 68 65 643 6 1
103 145 71 1145 9 5
Keenum doesn’t play in a power conference, therefore his team receives little national publicity. However, prior to last Saturday’s 58-41 loss to UTEP (Hey, he doesn’t play defense) his Cougars were ranked #12 in the nation. In 2009, Keenum has victories over another pass-happy program in Texas Tech and also Oklahoma State, ranked 5th at the time. But the buzz that started to gather dissipated last week in the wake of the loss to the unranked Miners. Keenum did his part though, going a ridonkulous 51-76 for 536, 5 TDs, no INTs. “It’s not really a whole lot of fun when you don’t win. You can put up a bunch of stats, but it wasn’t the way we wanted it to turn out,” Keenum said on conference call Tuesday.
Keenum was also asked about the eye-popping stats he and his team have put up so far this year. “We look at a few stats that matter, how we do on 3rd downs and in the red zone. And of course, the Ws, but we don’t really look at those other stats right now. The rest are for the end of the year, when we can reflect,” he responded.
His Cougars are 2-0 against BCS schools this season and will face another opponent of that sort in the SEC’s Mississippi State. It’s yet another opportunity for him to step up as the bright lights shine upon him, perhaps prompting more people to compare him to recent Houston QBs with legendary careers: David Klingler, Andre Ware, Kevin Kolb (a name somehow pronounced Cobb).
“It’s definitely cool and an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys, I take it not lightly. I know Kevin pretty well. They’ve all done great things and continue to do great things. I appreciate those kind of compliments,” Keenum stated.
Being this is Armed Forces appreciation week in college football I asked Keenum his reflections on playing in the Armed Forces Bowl. “I remember being on the field for the coin toss, and I wasn’t paying attention to who I was shaking hands with, but I saw 4 stars and it was General Petreaus, so it was petty neat to meet a guy like that. It was pretty cool there, the atmosphere, all the different armed forces at the stadium, the events surrounding the game, the different speakers they brought in. And it’s something that there needs to be more of. I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he articulated.
I followed up by asking his thoughts about comparing football to war. “You always hear “It’s a fight, it’s a battle, it’s a war,” every week and I’ve never really agreed with it, especially in times like now. I don’t think we can really compare what we do to what they do overseas, laying down their lives so that we can do what we do. In football there’s injuries and stuff, and a few people do lose their lives here and there, but it’s nothing like the risks those men and women take. So I don’t like to compare it in that way, because they’re doing something that means so much more,” Keenum responded.