Curry vs. Keenum

Whenever you ask Vinny Curry about his individual accomplishments or his successes on the field, his answer will usually deflect the attention to his teammates. Houston Quarterback Case Keenum is similar when he is presented with the opportunity to elaborate on rewriting the NCAA record books, but no two players may be more valuable to their respective teams than Vinny Curry and Case Keenum. 
Vinny Curry has 9.5 sacks and 17.5 TFL loss on the season.

Curry’s impact has not just influenced a single series during a game, however, his impact during games has changed the outcome. Curry was the difference maker in Marshall’s most recent win over Rice. During an emotional week, Curry got to the quarterback four times, all on third down, recovered a fumble and forced the fumble that set up the game winning drive. He was the difference in the ball game.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been around a kid that has done what he’s done,” said Head Coach Doc Holliday. He didn’t take one snap in practice and it’s amazing considering the emotional rollercoaster he had to be on all week.”
Go back and examine Marshall’s wins over Southern Miss and Louisville and you’ll find that Curry’s presence was the difference in those wins as well. Against the Golden Eagles, Curry recorded 3 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. The constant pressure in the backfield forced Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis to throw off balance and be intercepted three times. Against Louisville, Curry had another sack and two more tackles behind the line of scrimmage. 
Curry doesn’t always have to make the tackle or the big sack to be a difference in the game, although more often than not he will. His simple presence on the field draws the attention of the offensive line and teams must gear their blocking schemes toward stopping Curry. When an extra blocker must stay in to chip on Curry or a double team is called, that is one less person out in a pass pattern and somebody along The Herd defensive front that is left free.
“He’ll probably be as good a player as we’ve seen so far, and we’ll probably see some other good players down the road. Without a doubt this is a talented guy with a high motor,” praised Houston Head Coach Kevin Sumlin.
Of course, the Cougars have their own difference maker but you can find him in under center, or more accurately in the shotgun. Want to know how much of an impact Case Keenum has on the Houston football team? Just look at last season’s results. 
Keenum needs just 130 yards to become the NCAA Career leader in total offense.

Keenum suffered a torn ACL against UCLA just three games into the season and Houston failed to even reach bowl eligibility with a 5-7 record. Now with the same receiving corps to throw to and Keenum tossing the football around, Houston is undefeated and ranked 19th in the country. 

“He manages the game and makes great decisions. He’s very accurate throwing the ball and he gets the ball out of his hand when he has to,” says Holliday. “He’s a sixth- year guy, so he knows exactly where to go with the ball.”
With Keenum calling the shots, the Cougars lead the nation in total offense, averaging 603 yards per game, and passing offense with 436 yards per game. 
“We never talk about that. But it’s happened before and it’s happening now. If we’re doing what we are supposed to do and playing at a high level, we can win a game with 300 yards of offense,” said Sumlin. “The idea is to score as many points as possible and score more than they do.”
Whoever has the bigger game, Curry or Keenum, may be the deciding factor in who wins. If Keenum is under pressure all day and getting pounded it could prevent him from getting into the flow of the game and limit his downfield chances.  However, if the soon-to-be all-time NCAA leader in total yards lights up The Herd secondary for 400+ yards and a few touchdowns, it will be a long flight back to Huntington for Marshall.
 
Follow Dave on Twitter @wvmetro_dwilson. E-mail comments to dwilson@wvradio.com




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