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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Football

Texas Tech great guides UH’s Keenum


Co-offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and the rest of the coaching staff hope quarterback Case Keenum (7) can remain poised under pressure. | Daily Cougar File Photo

Before Case Keenum was passing for monster numbers at UH, it was Texas Tech who was popularizing the pass-heavy spread offense. Former Tech head coach Mike Leach’s first year was in 2000, and the first quarterback under Leach’s quarterback friendly scheme was Kliff Kingsbury.

In three seasons at Tech, Kingsbury threw for 12,429 yards, good for 12th on the NCAA’s all-time list. After his college career ended, he played professionally in the NFL and CFL for five seasons.

In 2008, he joined the UH coaching staff as an offensive quality control assistant, working on a part-time basis and mentoring quarterback Case Keenum. Last season’s 29-28 win over Texas Tech at Robertson tested Kingsbury’s loyalties.

Now that Leach is no longer at Tech, Kingsbury said he would root for the Red Raiders in every game except the Nov. 27 regular season finale in Lubbock.

“Last year was tough. I have a very close relationship with coach Leach so that was hard on me,” Kingsbury said. “But this year will be different. I’m ready to go back and try to get a win. I hope they go 11-1.”

In the offseason, Kingsbury was promoted to co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  He is in a unique position, advising a player who joins him in the group of the NCAA’s most prolific college passers. Kingsbury said that he has been fortunate to have a player like Keenum in the early stages of his coaching career.

“It’s good because I can tell everybody I taught him everything he knows,” Kingsbury said jokingly. “It’s been a blessing to be around him my first couple years coaching. I’ve really enjoyed it, I’ve been very fortunate and he’s turned into an amazing player.”

Keenum said he appreciates Kingsbury’s tutelage and that he admires how he has progressed as a coach.

“He’s helped out tremendously, from when he first got here to now having a big time role in the offense. It’s cool to see his path,” Keenum said. “I think our relationship is a really good one. I can go to him about anything. He’s been in the exact same shoes that I’ve been in not too long ago, so it’s always a help when he’s there for me.”

Kingsbury and Keenum have developed a strong relationship in the past three years. Kingsbury said he is urging Keenum to keep things simple for his senior season.

“This year, have fun,” Kingsbury said he told Keenum. “It’s his last year as a collegiate, so really enjoy the moment. Don’t put any added pressure on yourself. Go out there and do what you’ve done the last two years and try to win some games.”

Kingsbury was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2003. This allowed him to learn from one of the best in Tom Brady.

He said watching Brady’s habits was a benefit to him.

“He taught me a lot about work ethic and what it took to be a great quarterback, and how great quarterbacks prepare and act,” Kingsbury said.

This same lesson can be applied to the situation at UH. After Keenum leaves, it is inevitable someone will have to take his place. Apart from Keenum there are six other quarterbacks on the roster.

The current backup appears to be Cotton Turner, but Terrance Broadway, Austin Elrod, Drew Hollingshead, Crawford Jones and David Piland will all compete to be the backup this season and potential starter in the next.

Kingsbury said studying and observing Keenum’s habits can help them improve as passers.

“Just keep working hard,” he said. “All of them are very talented, and you can differentiate yourself by the extra effort you put in. Watch Case on the daily basis. See how he acts, how he trains, works and studies. Try to learn from him the best you can.”

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