- Created on Sunday, 07 August 2011 20:39
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by Travis Pulver
Case Keenum, the now married 6th year senior of the Houston Cougars, has every reason to be a little confident, maybe a little cocky going into the 2011 season.
Keenum will more than likely break Timmy Chang’s record for most career passing yards and Graham Harrell’s for career touchdown passes. Chang’s mark is 17,002 yards and Harrell’s 134 Tds; Keenum starts the season 3,486 yards back of Chang and 27 behind Harrell.
Not only is he expected to break a number of NCAA passing records this season, but his team has been picked to win their division and quite possibly the Conference-USA Championship as well.
So why not be a little arrogant?
USA Today has released the preseason Coaches’ Poll and while the Cougars are not in the top 25 they did earn 13 votes; enough to be ranked 37th in the nation.
Not bad for a team that was 5-7 last year, right?
Among the team’s returning starters are running backs Bryce Beall and Michael Hayes, possibly the best backfield in the nation this season. Last year they combined for 1,499 yards on the ground and 20 touchdowns.
Also returning are wide receivers Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier. Last season Edwards had 71 receptions for 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns; Carrier added another 480 yards off of 53 catches. Carrier had been a 1000+ yard receiver with Keenum behind center and will likely be one again.
Sound like enough of a reason to be just a little cocky yet?
Many players with the weapons that he has would be talking about making a BCS bowl game, something that no team from the Conference-USA has done yet. To do so the Cougars will more than likely have to go undefeated this season, a task that is entirely within reach and one that many think the Cougars will do.
Keenum does not have his mind set on one of the BCS bowl games though. Instead he is looking to make a different game--the Liberty Bowl.
The champion of Conference-USA receives an automatic bid to the Liberty Bowl.
Holding back talk of anything else is a good move for Keenum and the Cougars. To earn a BCS bid would not only require them to go undefeated, but would likely also need certain other scenarios to happen, especially with UCLA being the only BCS school on the schedule this season.
Setting expectations too high could only result in an emotional letdown that could damage the rest of the season should the Cougars stumble out of the gate. While Keenum’s return does give rise for hope, his knee is still relatively untested.
Keenum is just glad to have the chance to finish his college career on the right note. After enduring months of rehab, he has a greater appreciation for the opportunity that he has in front of him.
"You watch movies, and you expect things to kind of (happen), like the Rocky theme music starts, and there's a montage of different videos, with you running in the sand, doing the StairMaster, doing pushups, then Mick hitting your abs, and then all of a sudden in two minutes, you're well," he said.
"But it's not like that…It's long, hard and tough, and it's not easy and not fun. But I've been made tough and made hard and into a better player and a better person because of all this."
The first test will come against the very team that knocked him out last season, the UCLA Bruins in the season opener on September 4.