With the beleaguered Matt Schaub injured and after T.J. Yates' dreadful relief appearance in Week 6's blowout loss to the St. Louis Rams, the Houston Texans are going with—drumroll—Case Keenum at quarterback against the undefeated Chiefs in Kansas City this Sunday.
Actually, for Houston-area football fans, Keenum is a household name.
But most NFL fans, unless they double as avid Conference USA followers, don't know what this kid's all about.
Therefore, now is the appropriate time to introduce the new Texans starting quarterback before he's introduced to the Chiefs defense.
Keenum is a 25-year-old, 6'1'', 210-pound quarterback who went undrafted in 2012 despite an impressive collegiate career at the University of Houston.
He attended Wylie High School in Abilene, Texas, and according to UHCougars.com, he was named second-team All-State at the 3A level, which led to him being recruited by Baylor, North Texas and UTEP along with Houston.
Keenum didn't have a typically illustrious collegiate career.
The guy was a yard-accumulating, touchdown-throwing machine in Kevin Sumlin's system for the Cougars after being redshirted as a freshman in 2006.
At Houston, he became the NCAA record holder for most career passing yards (19,217), passing touchdowns (155) and completions (1,546).
In a downright silly 2009 campaign, he went 492-of-700 (70.3 percent) with 5,671 yards, 44 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions.
In 2010, he was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL against UCLA in the team's third game of the year.
Keenum intelligently applied for a medical redshirt and got it. As a result, he was allowed to play in 2011 in his sixth year at the school and fifth season on the field.
As a super senior, he amassed more previously unfathomable numbers.
Here's a look at his 2011 stat line:
|Case Keenum's 2011 Season|
|Completions||Attempts||Completion %||Passing Yards||TDs||INTs|
The Cougars went 13-1 and beat Penn State 30-14 in the Ticket City Bowl. In that game, he completed 45 of his 69 passing attempts for 532 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
While his numbers may have been artificially inflated in Sumlin's spread, yards-after-the-catch-predicated offense, Keenum couldn't have done more from a stat perspective to draw the attention of NFL general managers and head coaches.
Because of his relatively small stature and lack of a cannon arm, Keenum was immediately labeled as a "system quarterback" during the start of the predraft process.
From April 26 to 28 of 2012, 253 picks came and went, and Keenum wasn't drafted.
Here's what CBS Sports' draft analyst Dane Brugler wrote in a recent column regarding why the Houston signal-caller didn't hear his named called:
Below average size (6-1, 208), average-at-best arm strength and limited mobility to do much with his legs. His ball appears to flutter, especially when he doesn't have a chance to wind up and step into his throws.
Keenum holds several NCAA passing records, but those numbers came in an offense that inflated his statistics and allowed him to take advantage of a quick passing attack where he didn't need to make extensive pocket reads. He wasn't asked to consistently make NFL throws as the Cougars quarterback and at the end of the day, his lack of ideal physical tools were enough for teams to pass.
However, Brugler did divulge why Texans fans shouldn't be totally distraught by a former undrafted free agent starting for their team on Sunday:
He's resilient, tough and very smart -- all qualities that cannot be measured by a scale or 40 time. Keenum makes quick decisions with astute pre-snap reads to have a clear understanding of what the defense is doing and where to distribute the football. He has a natural feel for the field and pocket with good passing vision despite his stature that is a shade under 6-foot-1.
While Keenum's lack of prototypical physical tools scared away all 32 teams during the 2012 draft, the Texans brought in the hometown quarterback for a workout, which was the beginning of how we got to where we are today.
Keenum has never thrown a pass in a regular-season NFL game.
Let's get that out of the way.
In 2012, despite Houston cutting him in August, he played him on the practice squad, where he stayed all season.
With hopes of making the Texans' 53-man roster, he played surprisingly well in the 2013 preseason.
While exhibition statistics shouldn't be used to project regular-season performances, the four preseason games were vital for a former undrafted practice squad player.
Here's a look at how Keenum fared this past August:
|Case Keenum's 2013 Preseason Statistics|
|Week 1: at Vikings||13||18||125||1||0|
|Week 2: vs Dolphins||11||18||150||1||0|
|Week 3: vs Saints||10||14||79||0||0|
|Week 4: at Cowboys||9||13||128||1||0|
Due to his efficient play in the four exhibition outings, Keenum made the final roster as the No. 3 quarterback.
He was behind Schaub and Yates on the depth chart for the first six games of the year.
But after Schaub's injury and Yates' uninspiring play, Case Keenum will get his first NFL start for the Houston Texans in Week 7.