LEXINGTON — If new Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown is right, it won't take long for quarterbacks to learn his system.
“It’s really a simple system,” he 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.”
He played under Hal Mumme at Kentucky and coached under Tony Franklin at Troy. Brown knows the "Air Raid" offense — and is all for bringing the sirens back to Commonwealth Stadium, he said, if that helps produce touchdowns — and says longtime UK fans who watched Mumme’s teams will see familiar plays.
“The base plays that you’re going to see on Saturday afternoons, when coach Mumme was here, those base plays are the same. Those base plays are really the same that you’re seeing at West Virginia be highly successful. They’re the same plays we used at Texas Tech. Oklahoma State’s using those same plays. Oklahoma’s using those same plays," Brown said. "Those same base plays really haven’t changed since 1997 when coach Mumme brought those to really big-time college football.
"Now what we’ve done is, is we’ve made a stronger — I guess we’ve made a more concerted effort to run the football is the best way to put that. We’re playing at a faster pace, and we dress those plays up with motions, with different formations. Those are the things that the fans are going to notice.”
Brown calls it a "good problem" to have three sophomore quarterbacks — Maxwell Smith, Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles.
“It’s a good situation. 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. I met with those guys, I guess it was Monday of last week, and all three guys (are) good people, very interesting guys, excited about a fresh start," Brown said.
"And it’s going to be a fresh start, not only for them, but for all the guys on our whole football team. I’m only controlling the offense, but it’s a fresh start. The way we’re going to handle it, it’s going to be an open competition. All three guys will split the reps a third in spring practice, carry that competition through the summer into fall camp and see who the best man is.”
He doesn't want to prejudge anyone, including his receivers.
"Really been focused more on the recruiting end than the current personnel. During this dead period in recruiting, I’ll probably start peeking at those guys (receivers)," he said. "I think you’ve got to be careful of not watching too much, because it’s a different system. You don’t know what the players, where they were at that point in their career and all those type of things, injuries. I’ll peek at them just to have an idea, but I’m not going to get carried away watching a whole lot of the last couple years.”
Players should like that because there’s not really anything great from the last couple of years to watch about UK’s receivers. Now Darryl Collins, Demarcus Sweat, A.J. Legree, Demarco Robinson and others get a fresh start just like the quarterbacks do.
But remember one thing — Brown came to Kentucky to win, not just to get back closer to family in Boyle County.
Never mind that UK was 2-10 last year and has had three straight losing seasons. Brown knows UK¿can win.
“It’s been done. This program’s had a couple down years, but also, it went through, in recent history, some of its strongest winning. Was it five or six bowl games in a row? Here’s the deal, the SEC is a tough conference. There’s no question. It’s the toughest conference in America,” he said. “I’m coming from a conference (Big 12) that’s not chopped liver. Week in and week out, it’s tough. If you look at the rankings, it will back that up.
“But an opportunity to come home with these people, with the fan support that Kentucky’s going to have and turn this thing around. It will be done.”
He said athletics director Mitch Barnhart is “fully committed and I think the financial commitment he’s made with the staff shows that” and he says he believes in new coach Mark Stoops “without question” when it comes to winning.
“Those were the two biggest pieces of that puzzle,” Brown said.
It’s not like Brown was a hard target when Stoops pursued him.
“The thing about it is anytime you get presented with situations in this profession, it’s got to be the right situation for your family and I think that was probably as big a deal as anything. He didn’t have to sell me. I’ve been sold on Kentucky football my whole life,” Brown said.
UK Football: Brown says simpler times ahead for UK offense
Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown, left, talks with Wildcats¿ football coach Mark Stoops at Rupp¿Arena last weekend. Brown met with the media on Tuesday at Wildcat Den. Photo by Victoria Graff.