|Not sure, but I think the guy who agreed to take this picture was Case Keenum's father.|
But the bad play was one thing. The loss of Case Keenum for the year was something else. Keenum injured himself the exact same way he suffered a concussion the week before - attempting to run down a defensive player after throwing an interception. Only this time, he turned his knee on the field and tore his ACL. His season, and most likely his college career, is over.
Although Case Keenum hadn't been "himself" since the end of last season - he had thrown 14 interceptions in his last five games - and although the "Keenum for Heisman" campaign was an unnecessary distraction (because Heisman voters will never give that trophy to a player from a non-AQ conference, regardless of how good he is), he was still the Cougars' most important player. Losing him is a crushing blow.
Especially considering that the backup quarterback, Cotton Turner, was also knocked out for the season after a UCLA player tackled him and broke his collarbone. That left true freshman Terrance Broadway to run the show, and in spite of the pressure put upon him (taking his first-ever college snaps, on the road, in the Rose Bowl, with his team trailing badly), he performed admirably, leading the Cougars to two scores including the team's only touchdown of the game.
Still, the game was a disaster. Houston's offense sputtered even before Keenum and Turner got knocked out. Keenum's interception came on 1st and goal, which made the play a game-changer in more ways than one. UCLA didn't have much of a passing attack, but they didn't need to throw the ball when they could torch Houston's poor run defense for 266 yards. The Cougar defense, to its credit, did manage to recover two fumbles and an interception, but that really only served to keep the score from becoming even more lopsided than it was.
Seriously: how many teams lose both their first and second-string quarterbacks in the same game?
Anyway, the parameters of this season have completely changed. Quarterbacking duties will now fall to either Broadway or David Piland, who is also a true freshman. Although I've heard strong reviews about both of them, you would ideally prefer to give these players a redshirt season to bulk up and gain experience. Now one or both of these young men will have to learn on the fly. Any lingering questions about Houston's defense have also been answered: they're no better than they were last year, especially against the run. And is the team's apparent lack of focus a regression to two years ago, when Cougars fell behind early in several games? Why didn't Kevin Sumlin have these players prepared for the game? And did he give up after Keenum went down?
Anyway, now that the "BCS Buster" and "Keenum for Heisman" distractions have been eliminated, maybe this team can regroup and focus on what matters: winning Conference USA. I think it's still possible. But it just got a lot harder. Needless to say, my preseason prediction of a nine-win season has now gone out the window.
Other than the game, my friend Joe, my brother David and I had a great time in LA. Friday we rode the subway to Hollywood, visited Little Tokyo, and had an amazing dinner at an Argentinean restaurant in Old Town Pasadena. Saturday morning we drove down to Santa Monica and spent some time there walking around and exploring. We found the tailgating scene out on the golf course to be delightful. And the Rose Bowl itself was pretty impressive:Indeed, the only thing that disappointed about the trip was the game itself.