Case Keenum

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Houston will retire No. 7 for Case Keenum and David Klingler


No player at Houston will ever wear the No. 7 again after this college football season. The football program will retire the uniform number in honor of all-time program greats Case Keenum and David Klingler. A formal retirement ceremony will be held October 29 at halftime of a home game against UCF.

Klingler still owns a good handful of NCAA records to this day despite playing in the early 1990s, including the record for most touchdown passes in a single game (11 vs. Eastern Washington in 1990) and the record for most passing touchdowns in a single quarter (eight vs. Louisiana Tech in 1991). His record for most average passing yards per game of 467.3 ypg in 1990 also remains an NCAA record. Klingler was named the Southwest Conference Player of the Year in 1990 and would go on to be drafted sixth overall in the 1992 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Keenum also spent some time rewriting the record book during his run at Houston under former Houston coach and current Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. The Conference USA MVP in 2009 and 2011 led the Cougars to a 13-1 season in 2011 and ended the year with a bowl victory over Penn State. He was a two-time Sammy Baugh Trophy winner at Houston and was the NCAA leader in total offense in 2008 and 2011 and a part of the nation’s top offense in 2009.

The No. 7 will be the third jersey number to be retired by th Houston program. Houston retired No. 11 in 1989 in honor of Andre Ware. The No. 78 was retired in 1976 for Wilson Whitley. There are two Houston players currently wearing the No. 7 this season: Marquez Stevenson and Patrick Rosette. Both will have new uniform numbers in 2017.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 5 Rewind


As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.


Exorcising the Raleigh ghosts
When it comes Raleigh, NC, that college town has served as Florida State’s kryptonite over the past couple of decades.  Six times since 1998 a ranked FSU squad lost to North Carolina State, the most recent coming in 2012.  The Wolfpack were looking to continue that rather bizarre run of success, jumping out to a 24-7 first-quarter lead and holding a 10-point lead with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The reigning Heisman winner and one of his backfield sidekicks, however, weren’t having any of that.

In his first game since a one-game suspension, Winston tossed a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes to give the ‘Noles their first lead of the game at 42-38.  A Karlos Williams one-yard touchdown run three minutes into the fourth quarter essentially put the game away — Winston’s inexplicable interception, which had Jimbo Fisher downright irate, notwithstanding — while Williams’ 12-yard scamper with just over two minutes remaining put the exclamation point on the closer-than-it-looked 56-41 win.  Winston wound up completing 26-of-38 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns while Williams added 126 yards and three touchdowns to stave off the upset bid.

The win kept FSU’s winning streak alive, extending its school record to 20 straight.  However, the Seminoles have already seen its stranglehold on the top spot in the Top 25 rankings loosened over the past couple of weeks; it’s highly likely that support will weaken yet again when the polls are released Sunday afternoon.  Will it be enough to knock them off the perch?  Probably not this week, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if a team like Oklahoma or Alabama leapfrogged the defending BCS champions.

Good gawd Gurley
You would have to do a pretty damn good job to convince me that Todd Gurley is not the best football player in the country this year.  In Georgia’s nail-biting  35-32 win over Tennessee Between the Hedges, the junior running back rushed for a career-high 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns; 129 of those yards came in the pivotal fourth quarter.  One of the scores was a 51-yard thing of beauty that put the back’s exceptional vision and cutting ability on full display.   On his next run after that, he hurdled a Vols defender on his way to a 26-yard gain midway through the fourth quarter.  Provided he stays healthy the remainder of the season, there’s simply no way Gurley won’t at least receive a mid-December invitation to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.  If Mark Richt & Company continues to feed the beast, that is.

Elementary, my dear Watson
Against North Carolina Saturday, Deshaun Watson became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Clemson in 20 years (Nealon Greene, 1994 vs. South Carolina). Watson’s debut as a starter was a monster one as the five-star 2014 signee completed 27-of-36 passes for 434 yards and six touchdowns.  The scoring tosses are a school record for a freshman, or for any other class for that matter, as well as an ACC record for a frosh. According to a note from the school, the Tigers are now 5-12 all-time in games started by first-year freshman quarterbacks; three of those five wins have come at the expense of the Tar Heels.  Based on Watson’s play in his first outing, it appears likely he’ll get the opportunity to add to that overall win total as, barring injury, there’s little doubt it’s his job moving forward.


Arkansas and Texas A&M a clash of offensive philosophies


Six schools from the sEC West are entering this weekend ranked in the top 25. You could probably make a case Arkansas is deserving of making it a clean sweep for the SEC West. The Razorbacks are the only team in the division not to be ranked, yet they are 3-1 and running the football about as well as anyone around the country. This weekend Arkansas takes on Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas. It should be the ultimate contrast of offensive styles

Arkansas is ranked eighth in the nation in rushing offense. The Razorbacks average 324.5 yards per game and 7.13 yards per rushing attempt. It is the style of offense Bret Bielema was expected to bring to Arkansas, and it is paying off. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams have combined for 12 rushing touchdowns, which is more rushing touchdowns than 110 FBS teams entering the weekend. The only game Arkansas has lost this season came in the season opener on the road against defending SEC champion Auburn.

We all know Texas A&M goes a different way with its offense. Any team coached by Kevin Sumlin is going to throw the football. It was like that at Houston with Case Keenum and it remains that way at Texas A&M with Johnny Manziel and now Kenny Hill. The Aggies are ranked fourth in the nation in passing offense, averaging 405 yards per game through the air. Hill thrust into the early Heisman conversation by eclipsing 500 passing yards in week one against South Carolina.

There will be plenty of offense in this one. If Arkansas can keep the ground game going, thus using clock and putting up points, then Arkansas should be able to hang around long enough to have a chance to win. And if Arkansas wins, we could see all seven teams in the SEC West appearing in the top 25 on Sunday.

Kevin Sumlin looks like he’s worth the money for Texas A&M


Kevin Sumlin is one of a handful of college football coaches being paid a $5 million annual salary — and based on Thursday night’s thrashing of South Carolina he’s worth the money.

Texas A&M ran 99 plays — 99! — in its 52-28 win, and did so with a first-time starter in Kenny Hill at quarterback. But, as Yahoo’s Pat Forde argues, maybe last night’s win was just as much about Hill as it was about Sumlin’s system:

Clearly, the pony has plenty of tricks. Sumlin acknowledged a “chip on the shoulder” after reading media predictions calling for the Aggies’ demise.

“Let’s see if they can coach now that the best player in college football is gone,” he said. “… Probably had some coaches, including myself, who took some comments personal in the offseason.”

Sumlin knew what his offense had done before Manziel – when Case Keenum became the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions at Houston. So he knew what his offense could do after Manziel as well.

Namely, churn out yards and put up points with spectacular ease. And speed. The Aggies clicked off a staggering 99 plays Thursday, exhausting and bewildering the Gamecocks.

This isn’t to say Texas A&M can win with any quarterback in there. But Sumlin has found three quarterbacks in Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel and Hill who can run his offense to perfection.

Armed with the right quarterback, Sumlin’s offense is incredibly difficult to stop. And make no mistake, Hill deserves a ton of credit for going into Columbia and playing as well as he did in his first career start. He completed 44 of 60 passes for 511 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

But if Sumlin can get that kind of game out of a first-time starter in a hostile environment…then yeah, maybe that $5 million price tag is worth it.

It’s the same $5 million price tag Spurrier poked fun at over the summer.

“A&M has recruited well, I know that. I read those rankings every year,” Spurrier said. “Kevin Sumlin has an excellent record as a coach. He’s a good negotiator, we know that also.”

Texas A&M QB competition a two horse race


Who will be the successor to Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M? This is one of the biggest questions surrounding the Aggies entering year three as a member of the SEC. So who will it be? It looks like a two-man competition, which was evident once Matt Joeckel decided to transfer (to TCU) in May.

Kyle Allen and Kenny Hill appear to be the leading candidates for the job this summer, as profiled in a team snapshot preview published by The Dallas Morning News. The two candidates could not be more different in their approach to the offense. Will Kevin Sumlin end up going with a pro-style quarterback and hope for the same results he once had with Case Keenum at Houston, or will he go with the more mobile option and look to continue playing a style of football that was put on display with Johnny Football making magic happen, winning a Heisman Trophy in the process?

Hill ran into some legal trouble this offseason following a public intoxication incident during the spring. He was suspended by the Aggies but has been reinstated. Hill has slightly more experience after backing up Manziel last season when the starter was given a rest. Will the off-field trouble come into play? If it does, Allen appears to be a capable candidate as well. Allen has the skill and the upside potential but lacks the experience despite enrolling early.

Texas A&M will have another potential candidate for the quarterback job in 2015 after receiving a verbal commitment from dual-threat player Kyler Murray. With the recruiting of Murray it would seem to suggest Sumlin would prefer to open up the offense with a more mobile quarterback. Of course, Allen was one of the top quarterback recruits as well and he plays a pro-style offense, so it may be anyone’s guess which way Sumlin ends up going. It could simply boil down to which quarterback is able to move the offense more consistently and effectively. Will Texas A&M work better with a pro-style quarterback or a dual-threat? That is actually the more important question to address this summer.

So, who do you think will lead the Aggies offense when Texas A&M opens up the 2014 season on Thursday, August 28 at South Carolina?