Neal Brown’s resume speaks for itself. As an offensive coordinator at both Texas Tech and Troy he not only turned the respective offenses in the right direction, he got them to the point of national recognition. Today’s press conference reemphasized that he was the correct hire by new head coach Mark Stoops. He believes in the program’s reemergence and, as a Danville native and Kentucky grad, he has a personal stake in it.
“My whole family is UK fans. They grew up Kentucky fans,” Brown said. “They’ve had a lot of season tickets. They’re UK fans. Whether I’m here or not, they’re UK fans.”
Returning to coach at your alma mater can come with a lot of added pressure, which is something Brown acknowledged today. He told his family, who all still reside in-state, that, previously, his coaching career was isolated from them and now it’ll be “at their front door”. Thankfully, Brown steps into situation where the cupboard is far from bare on the offensive side of the football, especially at quarterback. There are three guys, all in the sophomore class, that will fight to be Brown’s starting quarterback next season. Brown expects a tough competition for that starting spot and thinks it will last through spring practice and maybe even continue through training camp.
“It’s a good problem. It’s really not a (problem). It’s a good situation,” Brown said when asked about the impending quarterback competition. “We’ve got three guys that can play quarterback in the Southeastern Conference. How we’re going to handle that is, it’s going to be an open competition.”
Many Kentucky fans are excited to see Brown back because of the return of his “Air Raid offense” which is similar to former coach Hal Mumme’s offense of the late 90s, a team Brown was a part of. Brown expects to run a lot of the same base plays that were in that offense, but with a little more rushing attempts and a faster tempo. Mumme’s offense carried Kentucky to two consecutive bowl appearances in the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
Kentucky’s offense under Randy Sanders had a lot of spread looks before a change in philosophy after Max Smith’s injury. Brown thinks that will make the implementation of his offense a lot easier for the quarterbacks.
“It’s really a simple system,” Brown said. “The first three days of spring practice we’ll install the whole system. It’s a system that the quarterbacks will be able to learn in a two to three week period while I’m gone recruiting. They can watch some videos and really have a good idea of what we want to do when I get back.”
Recruiting is something Brown has jumped directly into since he was hired. He’s been visiting guys that have already committed to Kentucky as well as recruits he thinks that will fit in his offense. Brown says recruiting skills players into his offense has never been a problem because they understand they are a priority in his system. Brown said it felt great to put the UK logo back on his chest and sell players on continuing their education in Lexington.
“(I tell them) this is a great place to go to school. The fan base is incredible. So it’s a really easy sell for me, and when I put that back on, it felt like home.”