More good news for Kentucky football fans, the Wildcats offensive coordinator Neal Brown can now be called one of the best play callers in the red zone. Last week we learned Brown runs the most up-tempo offense in college football with an average of 80 snaps per game, and now we know his Texas Tech offense was one of the most efficient at getting a score when knocking on the door.
It is one of the toughest spots to run an offense from; when the field shrinks, the wide receiver windows tighten, the defense runs even more downhill, you might think running an Air Raid offense becomes even more difficult while in the red zone. That is not what the data says, however. In fact, Pete Roussel at CoachingSearch.com finds that offensive style is irrelevant to how efficient your team is in the red zone.
Over the last three years under Neal Brown, the Red Raiders offense scored touchdowns on 70 percent of red zone opportunities, which is fourth-best in the country. The chart is not a perfect representation for overall productiveness, because it does not factor in possessions that end in field goals, which is far better than coming away with nothing. However, the data is good for seeing which offense gets the most bang for their buck inside the 20-yard line.
Surprisingly, Kentucky did not make the second chart which ranks the bottom half of red zone touchdowns, despite having one of the worst offenses in college football overall last season. If it were ranking just one year, Kentucky is just off the edge of the chart, as the 2012 Cats converted 56 percent of red zone appearances into touchdowns. Brown surely hopes to bring a big improvement.
It’s going to take time to see those numbers climb from near-rock bottom to the top of the charts, but Kentucky surely has the offensive mind in place to get it done. Neal Brown is going to make Kentucky football a fun product to watch.