With a new offensive system in place and a new coaching staff, the last thing anyone wanted to see was a quarterback controversy surrounding a UH football team that feels it has the chance to compete for a Conference USA title.
For the sake of team chemistry on the field and in the locker room, UH football head coach Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, named a starting quarterback with enough time for both players and staff to make proper adjustments.
Based on what Sumlin called a multi-step thought process, he named 2007 C-USA Freshman of the Year Case Keenum the starter for Saturday’s season opener against Southern at Robertson Stadium.
The versatile sophomore quarterback, who threw for 2,259 yards, connected with receivers 14 times for touchdowns and scored nine times using his legs, beat out junior signal caller Blake Joseph for the position.
"I think both of them are capable of winning," Sumlin said. "When it was all said and done it came down to the consistency that Case had through the spring and two-a-days. We awarded him the job. We talked to Blake and told him that he needs to prepare because he’s always one snap away from playing."
Joseph didn’t have too shabby a season in 2007, considering the amount of snaps he received. While alternating drives with Keenum, Joseph posted 1,324 yards and nine touchdowns through the air.
Former UH head coach Art Briles didn’t name Keenum as starter until about midway through last season, but Holgorsen said he and Sumlin were not going to let it come down to that because he didn’t think it would be fair to either player.
"It’s extremely important for chemistry," Sumlin said. "Instead of four or five guys throwing the ball to 10 or 12 guys, you’ve got one guy getting the primary reps and throwing to seven or eight (receivers). Now you’ve got the key guys getting the reps. I think it speeds up the process of what’s going on."
Giving more snaps to just one quarterback earlier in the season also helps fine-tune the offense.
"It’s nice to get a lot of good work in," Keenum said. "I need all the work I can get. So we’ll see how that goes."
With Sumlin as head coach, Keenum, as well as the entire team, has learned a new system during the summer.
"We do have all new coaches, so it’s a totally new playbook. The guys are learning well. We still have a long ways to go, but we’re learning fast. The receivers are doing good things, catching the ball, and the backs are learning well, too."
Although ready to assume his position as starting quarterback, Keenum knows he isn’t the only leader on the team.
"We’ve got a lot of seniors on the O-line. They’re going to depict how well we do. They’re going to decide how well we do every game. Wherever they go, we go."
Keenum doesn’t take his position for granted, and is ready to lead the Cougar football team this season.
"It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders, and I’m thankful for the position that I’ve been put in. I’m going to do my best and work hard to beat Southern. I know everybody else on the team is, too."