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Sunday, August 14, 2022


Keenum poised for super season

UH senior quarterback Case Keenum has tossed 5,000-plus yards in each of the last two seasons. | Daily Cougar File Photo

Last season’s 10-win campaign has senior quarterback Case Keenum eager to lead the Cougars to greater heights this year.

Keenum’s career passing yardage is at 12,950; Hawaii’s Timmy Chang holds the all-time NCAA record with 17,072 yards. Keenum has two consecutive 5,000-yard seasons under his belt, and one more will easily shatter Chang’s mark.

Records aside, Keenum said there is another number he is more concerned with.

“The only stat that I’m worried about is the win-loss column,“ he said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to get a win. It doesn’t matter who is scoring the touchdowns. Win every game 3-0, that’s fine with me.”

Keenum, who is a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy, has been added to a galore of award watch lists. But even with all the attention focused on Keenum heading into his final season, he is quick to credit teammates for his success.

“Football is a team sport,” he said. “I was watching our receivers work out in the summer and I told somebody, ‘Man, our receivers make me look good. They make us look good.’ They do a great job at that.

“If it weren’t for those guys none of it would be possible. If it wasn’t for the offensive line, too. It’s a deal where it takes everybody involved to make our machine work.”

A chance for more

Had Keenum opted to go into the NFL draft after last season, he would have left as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in UH history. Instead, Keenum stayed, giving himself the chance to polish his legacy even more.

“I do think it’s a great opportunity this year that we have,” Keenum said. “We’re really excited about what we have in front of us. You don’t get to do this very often and it’s exciting to see what’s going to happen.”

Throughout the offseason, Keenum worked to take his game to a higher level, living by the phrase “if you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse.” He worked with the UH baseball team, learning a stretching routine that will help his arm strength and the velocity of his throws.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin said he feels it is hard to improve upon an already productive career.

“I don’t know how much better you can be than leading the country,” he said. “If you have a statistic better than that, well I don’t think there is one.

“Obviously he has made strides every year he’s been here. Each year we sit down and we talk about where we can improve as a team and individually, and he’s the first one in the door at the end of the season wanting to know how he can get better. I don’t think there’s anyone that works harder in the offseason than him, not only on the field and weight room but watching video.”

Redshirt crucial to success

Becoming an elite signal caller did not come instantly for Keenum. Like many players, he sat out his freshman year with a redshirt.

“Being redshirted was a big part of me developing as a player,” Keenum said. “Being able to watch Kevin Kolb at that time, and the things he went through. Physically, I had to grow up. I was a skinny little punk when I came in.

“There’s a few players that can come in and contribute as a freshman. We’ve had a few of those guys who are extremely talented, but I was not at that time. I had to develop physically and mentally.”

Like Kolb, Keenum said he hopes his leadership will leave the other quarterbacks on the team with a better understanding of the game.

“I’d like to leave them with as much advice as I can,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll see what I do right and what I do wrong. There are a lot of different ways to get the job done, and everybody plays a different way, but I think you can learn things from what went right and what went wrong from everybody’s standpoint.”

Before the Cougars’ first week of practice, Keenum took part in a media blitz to increase the football program’s notoriety. Keenum went to New York City and the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., for numerous television appearances and radio interviews.

“It was cool and a lot of fun. It was a different experience for me, but anything to get the name of the University of Houston out there,” Keenum said.

Football pedigree

Keenum’s father, Steve, excelled as a coach at the high school and college levels. With football being such a strong element in his family history, Keenum said he would like to pursue a career in coaching when his playing days are over.

“It’s in my blood. It’s something I’ve grown up around. I wouldn’t know what I was doing if I wasn’t getting ready for something on Saturdays. I’d like to play as long as they let me, but I think football is something that’s going to be a part of my life for a long time.”


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