Blog Entry

Is the competition for Keenum really that soft?

Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:37 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 12:54 pm
The question was aimed at the notion that Houston's prolific Case Keenum's staggering stats should not vault him over other top players in Heisman consideration. I have Keenum fourth, but things have bunched up considerably in the top six in the past two weeks with Trent Richardson and Andrew Luck both not producing grand performances on their big stages of the season. Meanwhile, the Cougars QB keeps producing jaw-dropping statlines, as does fast-rising Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden.

So I decided to do a little number-crunching in hopes of better sorting things out by seeing who is playing the weakest competition and who isn't. As expected, the Cougars' slate is quite tasty. They're averaging a nation's-best 55 ppg, but what is holding Keenum's Heisman candidacy back some is this: UH has played 10 games. The toughest defense they've faced was La. Tech, which is ranked 57th in scoring D. Seven of the 10 defenses were ranked 90th or worse. Yikes.

However, when you look at the other elite QBs it doesn't get much better. Boise State's Kellen Moore, whose Heisman hopes took a hit when BSU lost at home last weekend to TCU, has faced one defense in the top 40. That would be Georgia, which is 12th in the country. Six of the nine defenses Moore has faced are 70th or worse. Again, that sounds bad, but just how bad is it really?

Going up to the bigger school QBs, it actually doesn't get that much better. In fact, Weeden's competition, at least defensively, appears softer than what Moore has dealt with. Oklahoma State has only faced one defense in the top 40 (No. 28 Texas). Seven of the 10 defenses Weeden has faced are 70th or worse. Of course, you could argue, as I'm sure fans of from the bigger programs would, that since the teams in the Big 12 are facing better talent on a regular basis, their numbers would and do suffer since it's relative.

Andrew Luck also has only been up against one top-40 defense, and that just came last Saturday when his team got beat by Oregon (No. 33 in scoring defense). Eight of Stanford's 10 opponents are 83rd or worse statistically.

Despite the fact that he plays in the same conference, and has been lost a little in the shadow of Luck and NCAA sanctions, USC's Matt Barkley, whose numbers rival the Cardinal star, actually stacks up pretty well statswise: he's played four top-40 defenses (No. 17 Utah; No. 39 Cal; No. 27 Notre Dame and No. 25 Stanford). Barkley, though, has also had the luxury of facing four defenses ranked 102nd or worse.

Similarly, another QB of a two-loss team who seems to have drifted off the radar some is Wisconsin's Russell Wilson. Two recent losses by his team are the reason for that. Still, Wilson is on pace to shatter the NCAA record for passing efficiency at 201.6. (The record is by Hawaii's Colt Brennan at 186.0.) Wilson has faced three top 40 defenses, including two in the top 20. He's faced four defenses ranked 100th or worse, although let's say it's really five since he also beat South Dakota, a 6-4 FCS team.

Overall, I'm not sure any of this should torpedo Keenum's chances. As I said the other day, I think he at the very least deserves to be in New York for the Heisman ceremony. He and Moore have always seemed like default candidates: great college players, who will put up the big numbers but get pushed aside when the more high-profile players get their chances on the bigger stages. Usually, those big stars shine and make the decision easier for Heisman voters but in the past two weeks that hasn't happened.

Since: Jul 28, 2009
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:10 pm

Is the competition for Keenum really that soft?

How was Trent Richardson's performance against LSU not a grand performance? He had 180 rushing/receiving yards against the #2 Defense in America behind Alabama's Defense. LSU had about 220 total yards for the game on Offense, and Trent Richardson almost duplicated the output of the entire LSU offense for the whole game.

Let's see another back do that. Just because he did not score a TD in what was the best defensive show-down in the past 5 years in college football, does not mean that his performance was not great. That's the problem with the media these days. They want flashiness and style points; well that is not what Trent Richardson is about. He just produces, game in and game out. He has 1200 yards rushing and 18 TDs so far this year, in arguably the best conference in the nation; one that actually plays defense.

Your article states that Weeden has played 7 of 10 defenses that are 70th or worse statistically, and Luck has played 8 of 10 defenses that are 83rd or worse statistically. Point proven. Enough said.

Sure if Trent played for Oklahoma State in the Big 12, or for Stanford in the Pac 12, where defense is about as common as a National Championship, he would probably have 2000 yards and 30 TDs. For the majority of games this year, when Alabama has been up by numerous TDs (because Alabama's Point Differential is basically 36 points Offensively to 7 points Defensively which is almost 30 points per game), he has played only about halfway through the 3rd Quarter, and then he has come out of the game to let the backups get their carries. Look at his two backups who got carries where Trent would have if the games had been close -- Eddie Lacey has @ 600 yards and 6 TDs and Jalston Fowler has @ 400 yards and probably another 4 or so scores, so that's another 1000 yards and 10 TDs that Trent could have had he played the entire game. You can't say the same about most of the QBs on this list who play the entire game or keep running up the score to get their gaudy stats.

But when you say in your last sentence, "Usually, those big stars shine and make the decision easier for Heisman voters but in the past two weeks that has not happened," you are so dead wrong. Sure Luck threw some costly INTs and got blown out by Oregon, which is an average defensive team at best. And his stock should have fallen. But you did not see Trent Richardson fumble or blow the game. He just continues to churn out yards each and every week. He continues to go against the best defenses in college football with stacked lines when opponents put nine men in the box to stop him. Imagine if the best defenses in the country brought 7 defensive backs into the game every play to stop Weeden or Luck. They would get eaten alive. But Trent continues to have everything stacked against him, while these other QBs play "toss the rock" against second grade defenses each and every week. But unfortunately that is the nature of the game these days. The media has perversed fans into believing that style points are football, but that's not the case. Look at the SEC. They play real football, and it shows. That's why they have won the last five BCS Championships, and are in line for a 6th this year. Alabama may not be fun to watch, but I'll take the best Defense in College Football, and the best RB in the nation every day over a flashy QB because in the end, the team that is not that fun to watch will rise to the top every time.

Put Brandon Weeden in the SEC, and he would be an average QB. We'll see who will be playing on Sundays, and who will have the great NFL career. Weeden or Richardson? I'll take the bet on Richardson any day of the week.

-- BamaSticky

Since: Oct 14, 2010
Posted on: November 15, 2011 11:05 pm

Is the competition for Keenum really that soft?

Since BSU beat Georgia rather handly, could it be argued that they would be 1st in the SEC East?

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:31 am

Is the competition for Keenum really that soft?

The problem with Moore, as he showed on Saturday, is that he is a whiner who looks to officials for roughing on interference calls when things don't go his way.  Contrast that with Luck, who at least jumps in and makes a solo tackle when his pass was intercepted.

Since: Sep 7, 2011
Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:33 am

Is the competition for Keenum really that soft?

Yes he is that soft.  If you want to send an Art Briles recruit to New York for the Heisman ceremony, then send Robert Griffin III.  He's put up great numbers and played a much tougher schedule than UofH in spite of a weak, somewhat scattered Baylor defense.

Since: Dec 7, 2009
Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:01 am

Is the competition for Keenum really that soft?

Players who put up gaudy stats against 10 tomato cans and show how ordinary they are against the two good teams they play don't deserve Heisman consideration.   

You have to be absolutely retarded to make a comment like this after reading the article.  It seems that even teams from your so called "big boy" conferences play defenses just as lousy, if not worse, than BSU and Houston.

Dude, give it a break with the whole "if either team played in the SEC" garbage.  They don't play in the SEC and they are never going to play in the SEC so who cares what they would or wouldn't do there.  You can let it piss you off all you want you douchebag, but you have absolutely no proof that either team would go only 4-4 in the SEC.  Stop spouting garbage about the SEC anyway.  The SEC is not great, only a few teams are and the rest of the non-SEC world realizes this.  Good for the SEC for making the NCG 5 years in a row.  Good for you, NO ONE CARES!!!! 

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:15 pm

Thanks again for writing about football this week

BSU is the grand impostor.  They played two good teams all year and went 1-1 against them.  They would be a 4-4 team at best in the SEC.  As for Houston: puh-leeze.  Just like BSU, any team that doesn't compete in a BCS conference has no business pretending it belongs with the "big boys."  Both teams will look really cute in the Big East next year if it goes that way, though.
Players who put up gaudy stats against 10 tomato cans and show how ordinary they are against the two good teams they play don't deserve Heisman consideration.   
At any rate, it sure is great to see a story on the sports page have something to do with sports, even if it is in the minority. 

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