As Mark Stoops begins to fill out his coaching staff, we are trying to gather information from the bloggers of their former schools in order to better understand what to expect next year. Today, we find out more about Offensive Coordinator Neal Brown.
Since we just brought on Neal Brown from Texas Tech as Kentucky's new offensive coordinator, I decided to ask Seth at Viva The Matadors, SBNation's outstanding Texas Tech Red Raiders blog, to answer a few questions about Brown. I think you will find this Q&A very enlightening about the differences between Mumme's original version of the Air Raid here at Kentucky, that of Mike Leach who went from UK to Oklahoma to Texas Tech, and Neal Brown's
Here we go:
ASoB: What is the very best thing you liked about Neal Brown's offense at Texas Tech?
VTM: The best thing for me is that I think Brown is a very good coach who cares about his players and tries to put them in the best situation to win. I don't think that this is necessarily the answer you are looking for, but I was more impressed with Brown and how he dealt with players more than anything else. Brown really is a head-coach-in-waiting and I that's tough for a team like Kentucky, but he's got terrific management skills and he's a heck of a teacher. A lot of Texas Tech fans were really down on him as a play-caller, but I thought he was really good. No great, but really really good. On the field, I think the best thing that Brown did was made the offense work as best he could. Brown likes the screen pass more than Leach did and that was probably their biggest difference between the two styles.
ASoB: Usually in the Air Raid, runs are pretty rare. How common are they in the Neal Brown version of the offense?
VTM: This is a point of discussion with Texas Tech fans in that we somewhat all thought that Tuberville had a hand in how much Texas Tech ran. I think Tuberville even mentioned that he wanted it to be at a certain ratio, even in games. So I don't know if we really got a good handle on how much Brown will run the ball because Tuberville obviously had his input. Still, Texas Tech was running the ball about 40% of the time the three years he was in charge of the offense and I think he would realistically expect about the same percentage at Kentucky.
ASoB: One famous quality of the Air Raid is the QB calling calling audibles on almost every play. Was Brown's offense like that, or did the audibles come from the sidelines?
Actually, Brown called a majority of the plays and depending on his trust level with the quarterback, he would permit certain audibles. Leach gave full reign and Brown pulled it back a bit and I think that this helped some of Texas Tech's quarterbacks some. I think that some quarterbacks got too overwhelmed with what they could do offensively (Taylor Potts
comes to mind). I believe that when the quarterback can audible, there's a limit to what he can call and I think that there's also going to be a comfort level and adjustment. I wouldn't expect just a ton of audibles the first year, but as the players become more comfortable, then he'll allow them to spread their wings a bit.
ASoB: When Mumme was here, the "tunnel" wide receiver screen was an innovation on the original BYU version of the offense that eventually became the Air Raid. Does Brown run that, or more of the "bubble" screens we have seen so much lately?
VTM: Both, but Brown likes the bubble screens more than the tunnel screens. There's just a lot of moving parts with the tunnel screen and it helps to have a really dynamic player that can pull this off consistently. I would say that Brown calls the tunnel screen more as a change of pace than anything else. With the bubble screen, it is essentially a blocking play and Kentucky receivers will need to know that they are going to have to block if they want to play, and none of this half-hearted blocking.
ASoB: Is Brown a proponent of 2-back or 1-back sets? This was one of the first things that got changed in Leach's variant of the offense when he went to Oklahoma.
VTM: Texas Tech mostly ran out of a 1-back set a majority of the time, but Brown didn't have any problem adjusting for 2-back sets as the situations arises. Again, I don't know if this was Tuberville or Brown, but I really liked Brown's use of the Pistol formation and fullback. It was really a fun combination to watch, but Brown won't utilize it if the personnel isn't available.
ASoB: Mike Leach was famous when he was at Texas Tech for the wide, wide line splits in the style of a true spread option attack. Is this the style Brown uses, or did he riff on that?
ASoB: How did Brown handle blitzes with the Air Raid?
VTM: Brown utilized some zone blocking and man blocking techniques and with a spread offense, I think picking up the blitz is more about communication and figuring out who you have. This year, there were some real deficiencies on the offensive line, but Brown had a new offensive line coach, one that he wasn't all that familiar with, and from what I have read, Brown will be working with his old offensive line coach from Troy, which is probably a real good thing for Kentucky.