Cougars prepares for QB transition as Broadway gets starting nod
Some UH fans might have thought they were having a nightmare after seeing quarterbacks Case Keenum and Cotton Turner leave the game with season-ending injuries last Saturday.
But this scenario was no bad dream, and there was no denial of the reality the team faces.
Instead, Keenum has prematurely passed the torch to true freshmen Terrance Broadway and David Piland.
Broadway and Piland were redshirts before to the UCLA game. This week they’re preparing for Tulane.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff are now presented with the challenge of grooming a new field general. Broadway is the heir apparent, but both signal callers will likely receive playing time.
Usually it is a tough decision for a coach to burn a player’s redshirt, but Sumlin’s choices were limited in this matter.
“We had nine games to go and another half of a football game, with the possibility of 11 games,” Sumlin said. “Based on our knowledge of the injuries at the time, knowing that they were both basically done for the season, the decision to do that became clearer and easier than people thought.”
“Based on where we were and where we are in the season, the idea at the beginning of the year was to redshirt both Terrance and David. We felt comfortable with Case and Cotton. Really, you never hope you get in that situation. Unfortunately, for the first time of my career, we got into it in three quarters.”
In Broadway’s first action Saturday, he led the offense to 10 points, including the team’s only touchdown. On the score, he threw an accurate spiral to receiver James Cleveland in the end zone.
Broadway completed five of eight passes for 84 yards and had 14 yards on two runs.
“It’s a credit to him,” Sumlin said. “I thought he was extremely poised. I thought he took care of the football. He moved our team and generated points. Without a doubt, he did his job.”
This was noteworthy given that Broadway had little to no preparation for the game.
“I can only speak to how we prepare, but the starting quarterback gets about 80 percent during the week, as the backup gets about 20,” Sumlin said. “So your backup goes in, and he is nowhere near as proficient in the game plan because of practice. You’re just trying to get him through the game.”
“The third guy, he gets to warm up before the game and before practice.”
Sumlin said Broadway and Piland were eager to compete early, but that their time would eventually come. This quarterback situation was expected to arise next season, but consequently the issue must be addressed immediately.
“They’re both excellent prospects,” Sumlin said. “They came here to compete for the job when Case graduated. They wanted to compete to be the backup this year, we just felt at the beginning of the year that Cotton was a little bit further along.”
In order for Broadway and Piland to succeed, they need the respect and assistance of their teammates. Running back Bryce Beall said the team hopes to increase its level of play to aid whoever is behind center.
“We know where we stand,” Beall said. “We know that Case isn’t coming back, and Cotton isn’t coming back. Now the older players need to be more vocal.
“I’m confident in them. We just have to make their job a lot easier. Case made our job a lot easier; now it’s our turn to make their job easier.”
It took time for Keenum to develop, and these quarterbacks will be no different. Inexperience considered, Sumlin said he has faith in both players who are only a few months removed from high school.
“There’s no question they’re both talented young guys,” Sumlin said. “But they’re young. There are going to be growing pains with them both, but I think they’re both capable of winning. That’s why we brought them here. They’ll continue to develop and make mistakes, but we’ll have to manage that as coaches.”