In the second game of the 2010 season senior quarterback Case Keenum threw an interception to UTEP defensive back Travaun Nixon. He attempted to tackle Nixon, but suffered concussion-like symptoms and sat out the rest of the game. He was day-to-day for the next game against UCLA.
Keenum started and marched the UH offense deep into UCLA territory. But he threw another pick to UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers, and found himself chasing another defender. He hesitated to tackle, and his right anterior cruciate ligament tore, prematurely ending his season.
“Case is such a competitor,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “”When it happened he just took off. It’s not something I say right as he goes off the field ‘hey if you throw an interception, don’t chase the guy.’ When it happens it’s a natural reaction. You try to correct a mistake.
“He went over there, and he thought about it. When he thought about it, that’s when it happened. He never touched him. He’s been told, but it’s not something I plan on working on.”
Defenders eyes light up when a pass is picked off. It’s not done out of maliciousness, but many defensive players are known to lay out offensive players on interception returns.
Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre was known to casually make his way to the sidelines after he threw interceptions. Favre lasted until he was 41 before his body could take no more.
“There’s alot to the Brett Favre theory,” Sumlin said. “It probably extended his career eight-10 years from just throwing it and walking off. People used to make fun of it and say how bad it was, but it helped him.”
Keenum’s competitive fire may shine brighter than the grizzled veterans, but don’t expect Sumlin to create scenarios in practice where the offense commits turnovers.
“I’m not much into practicing throwing interceptions,” Sumlin said. “I’m a positive guy, I don’t like to put negative stuff in people’s minds.”