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Houston’s Case Keenum is chasing history

Timmy Chang played quarterback for the Hawai’i Warriors for five seasons. Between 2000 and 2004 Chang set the NCAA records for most career passing yards with 17,072 breaking the old NCAA Division I-A all-time record of 15,031 yards by Ty Detmer of Brigham Young University (1989-91). Of course Detmer reached his NCAA record in four seasons instead of five. This season Houston’s Case Keenum looks to eclipse Chang’s NCAA record for career passing yards in four seasons.

Entering the 2010 season Keenum is 4,122 passing yards from the NCAA record set by Chang. Keenum has passed for at least 5,000 yards each of the past two seasons so if he continues that pace in a heavy passing offense and as long as he stays healthy he should easily break the NCAA record. Keenum has completed passes for an average of 8.6 yards per attempt in his three previous seasons, which would put him on pace to break the record after 479 pass attempts. If he stays on the same pace he did in 2009 he should reach that record in week ten, a prime time home game against Tulsa.

Keenum is on track to pass current Houston record holder, and his predecessor, Kevin Kolb. Kolb, who will be the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles this season, passed for 12,964 yards in his collegiate career. Keenum should pass that mark with one pass completion this season. Keenum will put up stats that will make him a part of the Heisman conversation down the road, but it will be tough for him to gain votes away from top players at the big time programs at the end of the season.

Keenum was not invited to New York last year. Tim Tebow, a former Heisman winner at Florida, Nebraska defensive end Ndamukong Suh, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Stanford running back Toby Gerhart and eventual Heisman winner Mark Ingram, running back from Alabama, were the players invited for the annual presentation. Will Keenum be invited this season?

“There’s no secret, for us to be successful he’s got to play at a high level, and I think our team likes that,” Houston coach Kevin Sumlin told The Associated Press.

Doubters suggest that Keenum’s numbers are flawed and some may even try to argue that Keenum reaches those numbers in a system geared toward the passing game on the basis of having no running game to support. Without doing the research some critics will suggest that Keenum is this season’s Chang or former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Klingsbury. Kingsbury was a quarterback who excelled in a Texas Tech air assault but came up small in big games. Chang still holds the NCAA record for most career interceptions with 80. Let’s be clear about one thing; there is no comparing Keenum with these guys.

Houston may have come up small in rushing totals in Conference USA play but it is not because they could not run the ball. Houston finished third in the conference in average yards per carry (4.9 ypc) and has a pair of running backs returning who each rushed for over 600 yards and combined for 16 touchdowns on the ground. An argument can be made that Keenum came up small in the Conference USA championship game against East Carolina, but the game was also played in rainy conditions at East Carolina and Keenum did throw for five touchdowns (he was intercepted three times).

Scouts seem to feel that Keenum is a much more polished overall quarterback than either Chang or Kingsbury. “He’s a good player,” Tony Dungy commented in a FOXSports.com article by Thayer Evans. “He’s going to be just fine.”

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
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