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SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/27/2006 12:31:00 PM

Catch Kolb While You Can

Oakland Arena
A four-year starter for Houston, QB Kevin Kolb is off to the best start of his career.
AP
With Miami off to an uncharacteristic 1-2 start, one might assume the Hurricanes' games are no longer must-see TV. This week's is. It would be well worth your while to check in on Miami's game against Houston on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN2) because it will be one of your few chances this season to see one of the nation's top quarterbacks.

If it seems like you've been hearing the name Kevin Kolb for about eight years … you're not that far off. As the Cougars' starting quarterback from the very first game of his true freshman season in 2003 (40 consecutive starts), Kolb is Division I-A's current career leader in completions (766), passing yards (10,348) and total offense (10,987). He trails only Florida's Chris Leak in touchdowns (67).

But while the past three years have been rocky for both Kolb (who threw a career-high 15 interceptions last season) and the Cougars (which went to two bowl games but also went 3-8 in 2004), both player and team have soared out of the gates in 2006. Last weekend, Kolb completed 21 of 28 passes for 313 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 34-25 win over Oklahoma State. The game gave Houston its first 4-0 start since 1990 and its first win in five tries over a Big 12 opponent. On the season, Kolb has completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 1,193 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one interception.

"The game seems a little bit slower for me this year," said Kolb. "That comes with the offensive line playing well. We're just in a groove right now. We feel very confident."

From day one, Kolb's career has been intertwined with the resurgence of Houston's long-dormant program under head coach Art Briles. Kolb was a freshman on Briles' last team at Stephenville High School, where the coach spent 12 years and won four state titles before joining Mike Leach's Texas Tech staff in 2000. The day Briles was offered the Houston job in December 2002, he immediately placed a call to Kolb, by then a senior at Stephenville who had committed to Oklahoma State. "The year I left [Stephenville], I knew he was going to be a D-1 player," said Briles, "just like I know he's going to be an NFL player. Those things are pretty evident."

Briles' unique offense -- formulated over a 21-year career as a Texas high school coach -- suits Kolb's strengths. Combining elements of the spread, the Run and Shoot and everything in between, it leans toward quick-release throws and favors a quarterback who can throw on the run. "He's tough, he's intelligent and he's got a great arm," said Briles.

All those attributes will be significantly tested Saturday against Miami's athletic defense. As a sophomore, Kolb completed just 11 of 28 passes in a 38-13 loss to the 'Canes at Reliant Stadium. While Briles seems certain of the 6-foot-3, 225-pound QB's pro potential, the draft gurus aren't so sure, currently ranking him between fifth and 10th among the nation's senior QBs. "The overall image is that they think I’m kind of raw because of the system I’m in," said Kolb. "Hopefully they can see the potential."

A big performance Saturday would certainly help them to see it.
posted by Stewart Mandel | View comments |

Comments:

Posted: 2:30 PM   by Anonymous
We know Kolb will see man coverage against Miami because Randy Shannon refuses to actually gameplan. Psst... Randy... Antrel Rolle and Kelly Jennings are gone!
Posted: 3:07 PM   by Bobak
Here's a thought: With guys like Kolb and Jordan Palmer, is C-USA the new MAC for mid-major QBs?
Posted: 3:34 PM   by Tin Man
Stew, what's you take on this game? Houston pulls the veil back a little further, revealing Miami's '06 team to be unseasoned bitter melon? Or Miami draws upon their pact-with-the-Orange-Bowl to introduce a mate to their wallflower win?
Posted: 4:57 PM   by Anonymous
We've been pretty impressed with Kolb for the past four years and it's great to see ya'll taking notice of him this year. Draft gurus or not, he's a NFL caliber QB.

Here's hoping he and the Coogs have a great game against Miami! Go Coogs!
Posted: 8:36 PM   by Anonymous
The "U" is hurting right now. But there is no way the Canes let a vastly inferior houston team come into the OB and push them around. GO CANES...CANE4LIFE
Posted: 8:49 PM   by Jack Roberts
come on houston take miami out...kevin kolb is the man...give him a little time and he'll shredd the canes... the H-Town Cougars are for real show the nation KK ---take what the canes give you they over commit on every play ... pump fake the out and go down the hash lines verical and deep ... right down the middle baby cut their heart out deep down the middle on national TV....COUGARS !!!!.
Posted: 12:53 AM   by Anonymous
Kolb has more weapons at his disposal this year and played one of the most complete games of his career against Oklahoma State last week. If the Coogs can establish a running game and the O-line gives him time to throw, this game could be very interesting.
Posted: 1:11 AM   by The Rooster
The Rooster believes Kolb and WR Vincent Marshall will burn Miami all night long. Go Cougars.
Posted: 2:51 PM   by Anonymous
stop getting ahead of yourselfs couger fans,yall almost lost to rice first of all and if you guys were to face FSU and Louisville i bet yall would not be undefeated.GO CANES!
Posted: 3:56 PM   by Anonymous
Miami is done. I predict a 38-24 win for the mighty Coogs.
Posted: 3:05 PM   by Anonymous
Hey Stew,
If USC will continue to improve prior to the Oregon game, isn't it safe to assume the Ducks will also improve? I think its going to be a helluva a game any way you cut it.

Mike
Posted: 7:43 PM   by Anonymous
i hope the mich st coaches enjoyed the flag planting by illini players after another big choke-what goes aroung comes aroung. and , by the way, where are all those big mouthed purdue fans???
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