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Playing “What If?” with UK’s Offensive Coordinators


Next year will be Mark Stoops’ fourth season as the head coach of the University of Kentucky football team.  When the season starts, it will be the third different coach to lead his offense.

Shortly after taking over, the defensive specialist chose “Touchdown” Neal Brown to lead his offense.  The BBN became nostalgic, thinking back to Saturdays filled with touchdowns and Air Raid sirens.  Unfortunately, those dreams have never transformed into reality.

The Kentucky offense has never been pretty during Stoops’ tenure.  Patrick Towles was a Mr. Football and Elite 11 prospect leaving high school.  At his best he was average, finishing both seasons as a starter one game shy of a bowl birth, yet Towles still finished his career 6th in UK history with 5,099 passing yards.  That career came to a close earlier than expected after struggling down the stretch.  That career could have been much different with a different offensive coordinator.

One of the candidates to become Stoops’ first offensive coordinator won his 20th game as a head coach today in his second consecutive bowl victory.  His quarterback finished this season with 5,055 yards, only 44 fewer yards than Towles did during his entire career.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have a Jeff Brohm-bias because he’s my first cousin, but I am not the first person to wonder what it would be like to have him on the Kentucky sideline.

Jeff has been through multiple stops during his coaching career, starting at WKU as Bobby Petrino’s offensive coordinator in 2013, the same year Stoops took over at Kentucky.  In a season-opening matchup between the Cats and the Tops, WKU dominated from the first drive, putting up 487 yards and completing 79% of their passes on their way to a nine-point win.  Since then, Jeff’s offenses have only gotten better.

  • Petrino screamed Brandon Doughty off campus halfway through the 2013 season.  Jeff convinced him to come back and turned him into a 5,000 yard passer, only the 11th in the history of college football.
  • After being promoted to head coach, Brohm has won back-to-back bowl games, in Miami and the Bahamas.  WKU had not won a bowl game since entering the FBS in 2009.
  • Brohm is 20-7 in two years with Top Five passing offenses each year.
  • Doughty’s 97 TD passes in two years are an FBS record.
  • This year WKU won 12 games, a C-USA Championship, only losing at LSU and at Indiana.

I’ve given WKU extra attention for two years because of my family connections (my little brother Nathan is a safety and plays on Special Teams), but I never expected to rewarded with such an entertaining brand of football.  Executing routine screen passes for first downs is one example, but a better example is how they got back into today’s game.  Trailing 14-0 and struggling to complete passes  downfield, Jeff called a flea-flicker.  The play went 60 yards, with the following play reaching the end zone.  It was one of at least five flea-flickers/reverses.  It’s an exciting brand of football that consistently makes you get out of your seat and cheer.

Obviously playing against C-USA defenses is much different than playing against SEC defenses.  I can also understand why Coach Stoops picked Brown over Brohm.  They had similar success at previous stops, but one played for UK and the other played for UofL.

There have been many frustrating moments on the offensive side of the football under Mark Stoops.  Nothing has been more frustrating than watching Patrick Towles fail to reach his potential, yet still have moderate success.  That would not have happened with Brohm as the offensive coordinator.  However, if things don’t work out with the next offensive coordinator, we could still get the chance to see Brohm on the UK sidelines…as Kentucky’s head coach.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

15 Comments for Playing “What If?” with UK’s Offensive Coordinators

  1. BG Cat
    10:08 pm December 21, 2015 Permalink

    Congrats to the Hilltoppers!

  2. tippytoe
    10:25 pm December 21, 2015 Permalink

    Don’t forget Stoops passed on Lincoln Riley as well as Brohm. Beginning to think Mark and Mike are more alike than brother Bob.

    • kjd
      8:11 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

      Please explain how you know factually that Stoops passed on Riley. Maybe he turned it down. Same goes for Brohm.

  3. Long Dong Silver
    10:27 pm December 21, 2015 Permalink

    Quite honestly, I think Mitch would be wise to keep in contact with Brohm. I wish Stoops would get it going and win every game. I just don’t see Stoops getting it done.

  4. mackbrown
    10:36 pm December 21, 2015 Permalink

    Roush, just go ahead and commit incest with your first cousin Brohm. Everybody is tired of hearing your clear bias and reading about WKU football lead by a UofL alum. Go cover Hilltopper sports.

  5. 2thepoint
    11:00 pm December 21, 2015 Permalink

    Can’t we just move on from Towles and Dawson.

  6. RealCatsFan
    11:07 pm December 21, 2015 Permalink

    Yeah, I know Brohm is a UofL guy, but I think it would be great to have someone like him on the sidelines at UK. Sadly, it will never happen – some other program will snag him well before Stoops’ buyout becomes manageable enough that UK can move on. Hell, he might end up back at UofL if Bobby ends up on a Harley again with a volleyball player.

  7. ragoss2
    12:14 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    It would at least have to be 2 years after Brohm leaves Western, as there is a non compete clause in his contract for all other schools in the state of Kentucky.

  8. StevieGotLoose
    7:24 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Come on Nick, you can’t blame the OC for Towles inability to check off of his primary target, his inability to hit a moving target, constantly throwing behind receivers, his hair and his winking. Towles was full of himself. Towles did reach his potential, his real potential and not the overrated hype that KSR spews at times. 2 years and 10 wins.

  9. kjd
    8:05 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Well. I guess we’ll get to see Towles reach his full potential at Boston College. If not, let’s blame the OC for not coaching him up. C’mon Nick. There’s highly rated high school QBs not panning out all the time. Towles has weaknesses you can’t hide in D1 football. Lack of feel in the pocket, inaccuracy, unable to “throw receivers open”, habit of locking in on primary receiver. There’s way more to being a QB than having a ” big arm”.
    Now, Jeff Brohm and his exciting brand of football.
    WKU ran 5 flea flickers/reverses. How exciting would that be in the SEC when 4 out of 5 more than likely would be for a loss? Why do you think a die-hard UofL lover would want to coach at UK? He’s a Petrino disciple. Hiring on with him at WKU put him on the fast track to head coach, and it worked out perfectly for him.
    What if…………you revisit this a year from now. Let’s see what Towles’ numbers are next season if he plays. Then we’ll see what the NFL thinks about him.

  10. buzzard
    8:11 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    we would be much better with a QB with bad hair…as long as we keep an OC who can’t figure out how to score with 1st and goal at the 2 yrd. line..but likes to go for it with 4th and 2 at the 48 yrd line

  11. Juan4UK
    8:32 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    You might want to make it a little easier for Brohm to walk by hopping off. Gotta be hell for him lugging that extra weight around.

  12. shelby
    8:41 am December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Brohm will never accept the UK coaching job: petrino is being exposed as the mediocre coach he is–observe this years record compared to last hear. Playing in the 5th best conference bobby will win 7 games on good years, eventually be fired, and brohm will take over.

  13. mtl18
    3:12 pm December 22, 2015 Permalink

    We get it man, your brother plays for WKU

  14. Glenn Fohr
    11:12 pm December 22, 2015 Permalink

    Brohm being a quarterback that played in the league would have been the best tutor Towles could have had here. Shame that the qb with the best physical skill set is leaving on the verge of us getting a real OC who may know how to get the best out of a player. I wish him the best at BC!!!