Case Keenum had one of the most impressive performances in a bowl game this year against a tough Penn State defense in the TicketCity Bowl today, leading his Houston Cougars to a 30-14 victory. He went 45-of-69 passing for 532 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and broke the 5,600-yard mark for the season.
But most people think he will be a bust in the NFL. Those people are right.
The Nittany Lions have been tough on defense all year but they looked entirely disorganized and uninterested in playing in this bowl game. With all of the controversy surrounding the program, it’s not difficult to see why the game was not the foremost thing on the players’ minds.
Keenum has average measurables at 6’2” and 210 pounds, and he has shown the ability to escape the pocket, but his real strength has always been his receivers.
Patrick Edwards is fourth in the country in receiving yards, and Justin Johnson and Tyron Carrier both rank in the top 60 in that category as well. Edwards had an incredible 220 yards in the first half alone.
Things like that don’t happen solely due to a great quarterback; they mostly happen because the receiver can create space and has sure hands.
The other big detractor for Keenum is that he is in a system that is strictly built for the college game. The spread is slowly making its way into the NFL, but no one runs the attack that Houston runs.
Former Cougar Heisman winner Andre Ware faced a similar problem, and his skill set failed miserably to translate into the NFL. Quarterbacks like Blaine Gabbert are also having considerable difficulty moving from college to the NFL.
Keenum will go down as one of the all-time greats in college football, but Monday’s game against Penn State will likely be the last time he gets significant time playing high-level football in America. Maybe he’ll have success in the CFL, but the NFL is not going to treat him well.