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Posts Tagged ‘Case Keenum’

ElViento: So I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with this site, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

I’m planning to have one weekly update, with links to applicable UH-related posts from SB Nation, as well as links and commentary on any other Cougar news items of the week. Then, a top-five list that’s completely unrelated, just for giggles.  So it’ll look something like this:

This Week On SB Nation Houston (7/1)

“Just Trust Me” – Feature on Mack Rhoades’ first year at UH

Karma delivered by former Cougar Rob Johnson

Sporting News gives Keeum back-handed compliment

Around The Web

Houston Cougar volleyball announces its 2010 schedule… First-year coach Molly Alvey isn’t ducking anybody. The Coogs will play TCU, UT-Austin, Florida State, Oklahoma and Tennessee among others.

Recent Astro draftee, and former Cougar Chris Wallace is tearing the cover off the ball with Greeneville. He homered three times in his first seven games as a professional.

And at last check, Blake Kelso was hitting .333 for the Vermont Lake Monsters (yes, that’s the real team name) in the Washington Nationals system.

Unrelated Top Five – Songs About Heaven Or Hell

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

AC/DC – Hell’s Bells

OPM – Heaven is a Halfpipe

The Clash – Straight to Hell

Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven

P.S.

I’m now actively looking for more writers to have a better variety of opinions ’round here. If you want to sound off, use the ‘Contact Us’ tab to shoot me off an e-mail. Thanks.

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ElViento: Okay, after Sunday’s action, let’s take a look at the standings:

Rice and Southern Miss are in. That leaves seven teams battling for four spots. After that, it goes like this:

Memphis: 11-10 (Surprise team of the conference this year ends the season against Southern Miss.)

Marshall: 12-12 (The Thundering Herd have finished their conference slate.)

ECU: 10-11 (The disappointing Pirates will host Houston this weekend.)

UAB: 10-11 (The Blazers will finish the year at Rice.)

Houston: 9-12 (The Coogs will travel to ECU.)

Tulane: 9-12 (The Green Wave host UCF next weekend.)

UCF: 8-13 (The Knights will be at Tulane.)

So, if…

…Houston sweeps ECU, we are a lock, by my estimation. We’d be ahead of ECU and UCF, and we could conceivably end up tied with Marshall and/or Tulane with everybody else ahead of us, but we’d have the tiebreaker over Marshall. So we’re in.

…Houston wins two of three, they are probably in.  We’d have to find three teams to be ahead of. We would be ahead of UCF and ECU by tiebreaker and/or outright, so here are the other candidates. We would need at least one of the following to happen:

  • Tulane to lose at least two to UCF.
  • UAB to lose at least two to Rice.
  • Memphis to get swept by Southern Miss.

…Houston wins one of three, they are out, unless all of the following happen:

  • UAB gets swept by Rice
  • UCF wins exactly two of three against Tulane.
  • Given a four-way tie for sixth place, Conference offices shrug their shoulders and award the final tournament spot to the Cougars, since they’re hosting the darn thing anyway.

**************************************************************************

Are ya depressed yet at the thought of the Coogs failiing to qualify for the tournament they host? Have no fear! I have fantastic videos which will psych you up for football season!

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ElViento: Sometimes, numbers can’t explain just how good a player is. Sometimes, they can. Along those lines, wrap your minds around this:

Barring major injury (*knock on wood*) Case Keenum will graduate after next season as the holder of every significant NCAA Division 1-A career passing record:

(Mom, if you are reading, and you don’t want to see me re-hash a bunch of football stats, you should skip down to the paragraph that begins with “Which brings me to the philosophical question…” You might like that part more.)

Keenum sits at 12,950 career passing yards
Current career record-holder: Timmy Chang (Hawaii) – 17,072
Keenum needs: 4,123 yards
Keenum average last two seasons: 5,346 yards
Keenum reached 4,123 yards in the tenth game of last season.

Keenum sits at 1,076 career completions
Current career record-holder: Graham Harrell (Texas Tech) – 1,403
Keenum needs: 328 completions
Keenum average last two seasons: 445 completions
Keenum reached 328 completions in the tenth game last season.

Keenum sits at 102 career TD passes
Current career record-holder: Harrell – 134
Keenum needs: 33 TD passes
Keenum average last two seasons: 44 TD passes
Keenum reached 33 TD passes in the eleventh game last season.

To put it another way, if Keenum simply matches his average from the last two years (which would mean a dip from last season’s numbers), he would end up with a career line of 1,521 completions for 18,296 yards and 146 TD, where the current records stand at 1,403 – 17,072 – 134.

Now with a schedule that’s not any tougher than last year’s, the offense returning nearly entirely intact, and another year of Keenum getting in synch with guys like James Cleveland*, isn’t the logical thing to assume that Keenum should be even better next year?

*Don’t forget, Keenum was clearly not on the same page as Cleveland for the first three games of last year, and JC missed two games late in the season with injury…and the Baytown native still finished the year with a team-leading 1,214 yards. What kind of numbers can the duo pile up this year?

So how much does Keenum need to improve to hit some the major, single-season records? To look at that, we will assume that Keenum will appear in 14 games again this year:

Keenum’s 5,671 passing yards were 162 yards short of the all-time record held by UH’s own David Klingler. To pass up Klingler, Keenum will have to improve by 11.6 yards per game.

Keenum’s 492 completions were 20 short of Harrell’s all-time single-season mark. To top Harrell, Keenum will have to improve by 1.5 completions per game.

Keenum has thrown 44 TD passes two years in a row. This will be the most difficult record to surpass, especially if Phillips likes calling running plays in the red zone as much as Holgorsen did. For what it’s worth, Colt Brennan of Hawaii holds the all-time single-season record with 58 TD passes.

Now, if forced to play devil’s advocate, I can come up with two reasons to temper my enthusiasm in regards to Keenum’s potential for mind-bending statistical dominance:

-With QB coach/offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen gone, will the transition to the Jason Phillips era be a smooth one? I believe it will be, but it is a consideration.

-If the Houston defense improves with a lot of talent returning, and a new defensive coordinator in Brian Stewart…will the Cougars be blowing too many teams out? Will Keenum be sitting in the third and/or fourth quarter of half of Houston’s games this year? And isn’t it wacky that this could be a serious factor?

In terms of winning actual games, the talent level of the 2010 Cougar football team is undeniable. The biggest question will be, how well does this team stand up to the pressure? After wins over Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Mississippi State last year, Cougar fans will expect more of the same against Tech, MSU and UCLA. Only Southern Miss returns a comprable level of talent in Conference USA, so the Cougars will have a huge target on their backs as the conference favorites.

Keenum will have an even larger target on his back, as a likely first- or second-team all-American. Not to mention the entirely possible scenario that Keenum could graduate with the dubious distinction of holding all major career passing records, and zero conference championships, competing in a non-major conference.

How will Keenum and the Cougars handle the pressure of expectations?

Which brings me to the philosophical question alluded to in the title of this post. In this space, I have previously mentioned that it is “never easy being a Cougar”. Lord knows that this season (and most of the past 20-some) have tried the patience of Cougar basketball fans.

The second part of my platitude is that “if you want easy, go buy a burnt orange T-shirt like everybody else.” But is that really true? Sure, if you don’t want to see your teams lose very often, and like feeling the smug sense of superiority that goes along with looking down on people who actually attended other schools instead of having the good sense to buy the right colored T-shirt like you did…then being a Longhorn fan is probably for you.

But would you trade all of the history and expectations if you could? I’m not sure I would. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see UH win every game, at every sport. But, as Jason Lee‘s character from Vanilla Sky would ask, is the sweet as sweet if you’ve never tasted the bitter?

Put it this way, try and think back to the last time you saw a UT-Austin fan enjoy a win as thoroughly as the Houston baseball fan base enjoyed its victory over the ‘Horns on Saturday. When wins are always expected, is any single win as meaningful? There is meeting expectations, and there is disappointment. There is nothing else.

Food for thought. And yes, this was largely an excuse to show this video again:

(Video still courtesy of S&H’s own jtdees)

P.S. More fun with stats:

-Keenum needs to throw 47 TD passes this year (up from 44 the previous two seasons) to surpass the all-time NCAA record for career TD passes at any level.

-If Keenum throws a TD pass in his first six games next year, he will break Ty Detmer‘s (BYU) all-time 1-A record for consecutive games with a TD pass. Doing so in the first 12 games would break the any-level record.

-Keenum can break Harrell’s record of consecutive 200+ yard passing games with 12 straight to begin the season.

-Keenum needs eight 400+ yard passing games to tie the all-time record for career games reaching that plateau (20).  Keenum recorded seven such games in ’09.

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ElViento: I have mixed reactions about the SMU game from Saturday, but I choose to be encouraged by the way the Cougars performed.

On one hand, it was Houston’s least-impressive offensive performance in a while. They failed to hit a lot of the now-expected benchmarks. The Cougars did not reach 500 yards of total offense for the first time this year, and Case Keenum failed to throw for 300 yards for the first time in a regular season game under Kevin Sumlin.

On the other hand, SMU’s defense is improved, and you have to give them some credit. Houston’s 38 points were just one shy of the highest total allowed by SMU in a game this year. And we have been somewhat spoiled by the Sumlin-Dana Holgorsen era. We should probably be more in awe that the 300-500 plateau is an expectation than we should be upset that the Cougars missed it once.

The Cougars earned a 3-0 advantage in turnovers against an SMU team in the top 25 in the country in turnover margin, and jumped out to a 24-3 halftime lead. After Tyron Carrier’s 92-yard kick return for a TD to open the second half, the game was over. The Cougars ended up running the ball a bunch from there on out, and just kind of cruised to a 38-15 victory. It was only the second decisive loss suffered by the Mustangs on the year. The first was a 39-14 loss at the hands of TCU, but the Horned Frogs didn’t truly put that one away until the fourth quarter.

What this game truly reminded me of was the Coogs’ Armed Forces Bowl victory over Air Force last year. The Cougar offense played less than its best ball, but didn’t make any big mistakes. The passing game didn’t click the way it usually does, with much credit given to the opposing defense, but the run game stepped up big. So did the defense, stopping the opposition from doing what it wanted to. (In this case, throwing the ball, as opposed to dominating with the option run.)

At the end of the day, it may have not been the most entertaining Cougar victory you’ll see this year, but it was a 23-point win over an upset-capable opponent. And you have to be happy about those.

Some other game notes:

  • SMU’s players were paying a lot of attention to the UH student section and Coog Crew before the game. The talented wide receiver duo of Aldrick Robinson and Emmanuel Sanders seemed particularly intent on talking smack with Coog Crew prior to kickoff. Predictably, this ended early, and the students were more than happy to let both know about their drops over the course of the game. Neither receiver eclipsed 50 yards on the game, and Sanders’ total of 47 yards receiving was a season-low.
  • It’s always a frightening proposition to call out opposing players on faking injuries, given the possibility that the injury is legit. But this is the second year in a row that SMU has unquestionably faked some injuries to slow down the Cougar momentum. I’m so tired of seeing Mustang players fall down, grab a hamstring, and be back in the game at full speed two plays later. I would like to see the NCAA crack down on this before college football turns into soccer. If a player has to stop the game for an injury, he should have to sit out at least five or six plays.
  • That said, best wishes to Bo Levi Mitchell, who obviously wasn’t faking his injury.
  • Major props to the Houston defense, which racked up five sacks, and held SMU to an incredible 0-12 on combined third- and fourth-down conversions. The Coogs were 9-16 on converting third down attempts. Along with the turnovers, that’s the difference in the game, right there.
  • Would you believe both Houston and SMU had more runs than pass attempts on Saturday? ‘Tis true.
  • A big salute to Charles Sims. The true freshman running back has proven to be a huge asset catching passes out of the backfield thus far this year, but had a breakout game actually taking handoffs on Saturday. His 105 yards rushing were nearly double his previous high on the year. And all of this came on the heels of a Tulane game in which Sims got just two touches. I’m very impressed the youngster kept his head in the game, and turned in such an impressive performance.
  • Keenum didn’t break 300 yards, but he did throw a TD pass for the 23rd straight game. This puts him just 12 games shy of the all-time Division 1-A record, held by Ty Detmer of BYU. The all-time NCAA record, held by Jimmy Terwilliger of D-II East Stroudsberg, is 39. I’m going to try and put up something about other NCAA records within Keenum’s reach sometime this week.
  • The Cougars are now bowl-eligible with six wins. If the Cougars receive a bowl berth this year (which seems like a shoo-in at this point), it will be the fifth-straight season Houston has competed in the post-season, a first in school history.
  • There is a four-way tie for first-place in Conference USA West, but UTEP remains the only school entirely in control of its own destiny, and their remaining schedule shapes up pretty nicely. I think you can pencil in the Tulane and Rice games as wins for the Miners, which leaves vs. UAB (this weekend), @ SMU (11/14) and vs. Marshall (11/28) as the potential roadblocks. While wins over Houston and Tulane prove that UTEP is a talented team, losses to Buffalo and Memphis show that the Miners are capable of slip-ups. Knock on wood, but I see them losing at least one more game.

Next up for the Cougars, Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles have outscored C-USA weak sisters Memphis and Tulane by a combined score of 79-22 the past two weeks, despite having lost starting QB Austin Davis for the season due to injury. More on the Golden Eagles, and (hopefully, finally, God-willing) some men’s hoops coverage coming this week.

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SarCoog: In case you want a nice reminder of the inequity between the BCS and non-BCS on this Thursday morning.

A close friend of mine who’ll remain nameless (*coughMattNadji*cough) pointed out the difference between the performances of Texas Longhorn QB Colt McCoy and Cougar QB Case Keenum against common opponent Texas Tech… so let’s take a look at how the 2 guys did in those games:

  • Case Keenum: 38-58, 435 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 8 carries, 27 yards, 1 TD
  • Colt McCoy: 24-34, 205 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT; 8 carries, 5 yards

Guess which guy is the Heisman front runner… I’ll give you a hint: it’s not Keenum. Although I’m curious to see how Keenum does against another common opponent this weekend (UTEP) but I doubt it will make too much of a difference. But this negativity is misplaced since the Houston Cougars are ranked for the first time in 18 years… that counts for something.

Positivity, positivity, positivity… deep breaths.

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ElViento: It was a drive that will live on in Cougar lore forever.

Sixteen plays.

Ninety-five yards.

Four minutes, fifty-eight seconds.

At 12:01 on Sunday morning, Case Keenum dove into the end zone, putting Houston up for good. The final score would read Cougars 29, Texas Tech Red Raiders 28.

Clearly, the first order of business is naming that drive. While “The Drive” is elegant in its simplicity, it lacks in originality. John Elway called and said, “I think that one’s been done before.” Fortunately, I have a better suggestion:

The Two-Day Drive.

With 5:47 left to play, Houston trailed by 5 points, and had 95 yards in front of them. Things didn’t get off to a great start, as a pass attempt for James Cleveland fell incomplete, and a 6 yard toss to Tyron Carrier left Houston with a third down still deep inside its own territory.

But then Keenum found Patrick Edwards for seven yards and the first.

The next nervous moment came one set of downs later, as the Cougars faced a third-and-ten from their own 34 yard line. Keenum dropped back, scrambled, and ended up rushing for exactly ten yards and the first down.

The very next set of downs, the Cougars cut it even closer, with Keenum finding Edwards yet again on the sidelines for a 7-yarder on fourth-and-four.

A Bryce Beall rush went for 12 yards to get the Cougars within 30 yards of the end zone, and a surgical Keenum strike to Carrier moved Houston all the way down to the Texas Tech 7 yard line.

On first down, Beall ran for three.

On second down, a designed QB keeper saw Keenum dive into the end zone, and saw Robertson Stadium explode.

With less than a minute to work with, and with no timeouts remaining, the Red Raiders were unable to seriously threaten. Final score, Houston 29, Texas Tech 28.

What Does This Mean?

The great thing about Houston’s win over Oklahoma State was that any objective observer of the game could see that the Cougars simply outplayed the Cowboys. The statistics for the game back this up. It was great to know that we’re good enough to beat a team like that.

The great thing about Houston’s win over Texas Tech was that the Cougars clearly did not have their A-game, and they won anyway.

Although Keenum’s final line was impressive, he missed several open receivers. When he was hitting receivers on the numbers, a handful of passes got dropped anyway. Houston’s defense was impressive yet again, but had a few fits of missed arm tackles that would have sent a Pee-Wee coach into a frenzy. On several occasions, the Cougar coaching staff seemed to be tentative with the play-calling. Like they were playing not to lose, instead of playing to win. (A draw play on third-and-twelve to set up a 44-yard field goal? Really?? That’s the kind of team we are??)

I don’t know if Houston got too high on itself with all of the publicity the team has received lately. I don’t know if having a week off messed with everybody’s schedule. I don’t know if we just had an inevitable off-day, and it just so happened to fall on the day of the Tech game.

I don’t know why Houston didn’t play its best football on Saturday. And I don’t care.

We didn’t have our A-game, and we still beat a damn good football team.

Because that’s what great teams do.

Looking Forward

Nobody in Conference USA has impressed me terribly this year. Southern Miss could still give us trouble, Tulsa might only because it’s a road game for Houston. Nobody else should be able to play close with us. (Then again, Marshall shouldn’t have played close with us last year, and they wiped the field with us.)

Still, anybody who saw Mississippi State hang tough with LSU on Saturday knows that Houston has their work cut out for them in two weeks when they head to Starkville.

Rumors are that Matt Nicholson re-tore his ACL. A senior leader at linebacker, Houston will miss Nicholson’s presence. The good news is that the backup linebackers have looked stronger than expected so far this year, and we still have two very good players at that position in C.J. Cavness and Marcus McGraw. Still, Nicholson will be missed, if in fact he has re-torn his ACL. A huge thank you for the years of hard work you’ve put in, Matt.

A Quick Word on Rushing the Field

I’m sure that the Cougar alumni have already started grousing about the students rushing the field. How do I know this? They were grousing about the mere possibility before the game started.

Look, alums. I love y’all. I absolutely love y’all to death. Y’all were fantastic and loud all game, and I love every single one of you.

But you need to get over it.

I always hear people say we should “act like we’ve been there before.” Guess what? We haven’t. At least not in any of our (the students’) lifetimes.

The students love to rush the field. The players enjoyed it, too. That should be all that matters.

It’s not every game you beat a team of Texas Tech’s caliber on a last-minute, 95-yard drive. Ranked team or not, that’s worth celebrating.

I know that not every single Cougar alumnus had a problem with it, so I apologize for generalizing. But UH students showing school spirit is rare, and should be encouraged. I rushed the field, I’m damn proud of it, and I wouldn’t take it back for anything.

Good Advice

Talking to a couple of Houston fans after the game, the subject immediately turned back to the what if’s. What if we finish undefeated? Will we end up in the BCS? Will Boise State, with their powder-puff non-conference schedule, finish ahead of us?

Then a fan broke out what I think is the best advice I’ve heard in a long time. It is my new motto for the year. I’ll paraphrase as best I can:

Ride the wave. Don’t worry about going undefeated. Don’t worry about the BCS. Just ride the wave. Wherever Houston ends up at the end of the year, it’ll be better than where we were at the beginning of the season. So enjoy every game to the best of your abilities.

Ride the wave, Cougars. Ride the wave.

P.S. Jackson Jeffcoat, please sign with Houston. Thank you.

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ElViento: If you saw the students camping outside the Athletics/Alumni Center the night before student guest tickets went on sale, for the opportunity to get their hands on tickets for the UH-Texas Tech game this Saturday, you know that the Houston Cougar football program hasn’t had a home game this important – or at least this hyped – in quite a while.  Consequently, I don’t think one single preview of the game will be sufficient. So starting today, I’ll have a five-part preview of the game, one part to be released each day, all the way up to game day.

Today, we’ll take a look at Saturday’s game by the numbers. Here are some of the relevant figures for the game:

  • 1 – Number (each) of interceptions and times sacked for Case Keenum this year, putting him on pace for four each. Those numbers last year? 11 and 25, respectively.
  • 1.7 – Texas Tech team yards per carry on the season. The Red Raiders have 86 team rush yards through three games, including –6 in last week’s defeat at the hands of UT-Austin. The Red Raiders ran for 1,427 yards on 4.7 yards per carry in 2008.
  • 2 – The number of games Houston has lost in Robertson Stadium since 2006, against 18 wins. The Cougars have won ten straight at the Rob.
  • 3 – Average margin of defeat in Houston’s two true home losses.
  • 6 – Number of Texas Tech receivers with 10+ catches through three games. 7 Red Raiders have caught a TD pass so far.
  • 8 – Years Cougar Offensive Coordinator Dana Holgorsen spent on the Texas Tech coaching staff. Think the two teams will be somewhat familiar with each other’s offenses?
  • 8 – Number of times Kevin Sumlin has faced Texas Tech as a coach, going back to a 1991 Texas Tech-Wyoming matchup. (Sumlin was the Cowboys’ Wide Receivers coach at the time.) Sumlin-coached teams have split the eight games; four wins, four losses.
  • 14 – Consecutive regular season games in which Keenum has thrown for at least 300 yards and at least 2 TDs. (Every regular season game under Sumlin.) Number of games Keenum threw for 300+ yards under Art Briles? Zero.
  • 64 – Percent of third downs converted by Oklahoma State (9 of 14) against Houston in the Cougars’ 45-35 victory. For as good as the defense looked, getting third down stops is an area in need of improvement. (Tech has converted 42% of their third downs through three games.)
  • 82 – Percent of Cougar Red Zone trips that have resulted in a Touchdown this year. (10 of 12) Compare to just 61% last year. This was an area that the coaching staff wanted to address in the off-season, and early returns are good.
  • 97 – Penalty yards per game assessed against Texas Tech so far this year. Compare to Houston’s 23 per game.
  • 2,146 – Passing yards accumulated by the two teams through five combined games. At that pace, we’ll see 858 passing yards on Saturday.
  • 31,818 – The number of fans who witnessed Houston beat Southern Miss in the 2006 Conference USA championship, the most well-attended game in the history of Robertson Stadium. Not sure exactly how many fans will be crammed into the Rob on Saturday, but it will be more than this. The atmosphere is going to be absolutely electric. Enjoy it, folks.

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