College Football QB Breakdown: Kellen Moore vs. Case Keenum
The NFL is a Quarterback driven league where one man can make or break your team. We've seen an obvious example this year with how the Indianapolis Colts have performed without Peyton Manning. The same argument can be made for college football and there is no doubt that the QB is the most important position on the field.
This year the majority of the focus in college has gone to Stanford's Andrew Luck. Luck did the unthinkable last year and passed up a shot at being the #1 pick in the NFL draft to play another year of college ball. This year Luck's performance has been so good that it has caused a "Suck for Luck" meme that has spread throughout some NFL fanbases. It hasn't just been Luck that has captured the attention of America. It's also been Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson that have been front and center this year. But what about two of the best Quarterbacks in College Football? What about Boise State's Kellen Moore and Houston's Case Keenum?
Both guys have been quietly going about their business this year and have led their teams to undefeated records. Besides both guys playing for an undefeated non-automatic qualifier, both of these guys have a lot in common. Both red-shirted as freshmen (Keenum also red-shirted last year due to an injury), both are sons of football coaches, both are married (sorry girls), and both have graduated and are currently working on post-graduate degrees. But there are also differences.
Keenum plays in the wide-open Houston passing attack while Moore plays in the more balanced Boise State offense. Another difference is how widely they were recruited. Kellen Moore was a 4-star prospect in college and was rated as the #26 QB in his class by scout.com. Moore was voted first-team in High School for his classification over another in-state QB you might have heard of (Jake Locker). On the other hand, Case Keenum wasn't even the most highly ranked QB that Houston signed in 2006. Keenum was a 2-star prospect who didn't break Scout.com's Top 100 QBs for 2006. Despite Moore being highly thought of, I think it would be fair to say both players were underrated.
The fact that they're both great is obvious. But then, upon review, the question starts to pop into your head: Which one of these guys would you want to run your team? It's not an easy question so I contacted some writers I respect and sought out their opinions on which QB they would choose in different situations:
QUESTION: #1: Who would you rather have QB your college team?
Give me Kellen Moore, just based on the fact that I have seen him win more games that had something riding on them than Case Keenum. I like Moore's determination and ability to come up with key passes in the clutch and not that Keenum doesn't have that ability, but Moore has proven himself time and time again every chance he has had. Moore has come up with wins more or less in opposing team's territory against Georgia and Virginia Tech and has led the team to a BCS bowl victory against TCU all within recent years.
I'd take Keenum or Moore on my team if given the option but if the question is about building around one or the other on my college team, I'll take Moore just because I feel he is a bit more battle-tested and proven, and he may be slightly more durable.
QUESTION #2: Your team is down by four points in the National Championship Game. You have the ball at your 10 yard line and two minutes left to score a TD to win the game. Who do you want as your QB in this situation?
This one is tough. VERY tough. I love both players' games, for very different reasons. Were you to anthropomorphize how they play football into college buddies, Case Keenum's game is the friend with whom you'd do shots of tequila and carouse for girls -- free-wheeling, wild, sometimes erratic (he's had double-digit picks every year except this one, as he's on pace for just four); Moore's game is the friend with whom you frequent the library. Jeff Twining writes MWC columns on my site, and he pointed out to me Moore is doing a study on the 10,000-hour philosophy meaning, one cannot be truly great at something until he/she puts 10,000 hours into. Thus, he dedicated himself to becoming the perfect passer.
But I read an interesting tidbit on the efficiency of each player, courtesy of ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson: "His play in the red zone was incredible: 27 touchdowns, one interception. The 27 touchdowns put him second in the country behind Case Keenum of Houston. Forget about blitzing him inside the 20; he threw 11 touchdowns in only 23 attempts against the blitz."
Moore was the nation's second best red zone quarterback in 2009 (Keenum's last full campaign), to Keenum. And 2011 is Keenum's best statistical year. When we're talking the ability to captain a team within the 20-yard line, I'm taking Keenum by a hair. And no Jose Cuervo needed.
QUESTION #3: You are a college coach and have one game left in your college career. You have the choice of playing Kellen Moore or Case Keenum at QB (you can run any type of offense you want). Who would you choose and why?
Looking at the stats between these two over the course of this season and really, the course of their careers, it's actually pretty even. If anything, it might possibly skew to Keenum.
But if you know me and you've read my work, you know that I don't like judging things like this based on stats. So instead I'll ask you this: if Kellen Moore were to get the ball with two minutes to go, three timeouts and trailing by a touchdown, would you ever, in a million years bet against him (regardless of the opponent)? The answer is no, unless you're certifiably insane.
Looking at Moore's stats are a waste of time, since really, they do no justice to watching him with your own eyes. Neither does watching him in warmups, if only because there are beer vendors in the stands with better football physiques than him. Nope with Moore his greatness is in the intangible way he plays the game, the things that don't show up in the box score. It shows up in the way he makes it look easy throwing passes into the tiniest of windows between three or four defenders. How he often hits wide open receivers in the back of the end zone, even though when he releases the ball they haven't come out of their break yet. How he always seems to innately know when to tuck the ball and run for the first down, even though he "runs" about as well as I speak Mandarin Chinese. (which as you may have guessed, is not well at all)
Simply put, over the rest of our lives, we're going to see a lot of great quarterbacks, guys that are 6'5, some with big arms, and maybe others who run 4.4 40's. But we'll never, ever see another quarterback quite like Kellen Moore. He is absolutely one of a kind.
QUESTION #4: You are an NFL GM and your owner has told you to pick either Case Keenum or Kellen Moore in the upcoming draft. Who do you pick and why?
I'm taking Case Keenum over Kellen Moore because I think Keenum's physical skills outweigh Moore's intangibles. It's not that I think Moore is a slouch, but Case also has great intangibles that don't get talked about nearly enough.
Moore is a great leader with great intelligence and who knows how to take advantage of what defenses give him. He is however only 6'0 tall and has very limited physical abilities. His arm strength is below par and as much as I believe smarts can make up for that I'm not sold on Moore's ability is enough.
Keenum on the other hand is 6'2, he is also a fantastic leader who makes great decisions and he is not nearly as limited athletically. Even after his injury he still has the ability to make things happen with his legs and his arm. His arm strength is actually very underrated and is somewhat hidden to due to the system he plays in.
Many people will overrate Moore's intangibles and overlook Moore's flaws because people like underdogs. However when it comes to taking a QB with future upside the choice is clearly Case Keenum.
Our panel of writers is split down the middle on who they would choose in their given scenarios. Two chose Boise State's Kellen Moore and two rode with Houston's Case Keenum. What is clear is that we have two very special Senior Quarterbacks that only have a few games to play for their respective colleges. Go out of your way to watch them play while you can. We don't know what the