Neal Brown's quarterbacks completed at least 65 percent of their passes for three straight seasons at Texas Tech.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Shawn Watson directed the University of Louisville offense that won 11 games, including the exclamation point moment against Florida in the Sugar Bowl last season. Teddy Bridgewater, Damian Copeland, DeVante Parker – Watson has worked well with all of them.
Watson will be paid $325,000 to coordinate the Cardinals' offense this season.
That's a wonderful salary. But it's not as wonderful as this one: Neal Brown is scheduled to make $550,000 as he runs the University of Kentucky offense for Mark Stoops.
What can Brown do for Kentucky, starting Saturday night in Nashville when the Wildcats open their 2013 season against Western Kentucky at LP Field?
The primary storyline for the Kentucky opener remains how Stoops, a defensive guy, will defend the offense that Bobby Petrino has created for Western Kentucky.
Makes sense. But I'm equally eager to see how many points Brown can score with Jalen Whitlow, Maxwell Smith, Raymond Sanders, Jonathan George, Demarco Robinson and the UK offense.
A look at Neal Brown's business card shows that he specializes in tempo, mismatches and creating confusion.
"I feel like this is a blue-collar state, from east to west," Brown said. "We want to put a product out there that resembles the people in the state. We want to play high tempo, we want to play physical and we want to get after people."
That's what the Wildcats can expect. One of the first ways that Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart signaled he is serious about moving the Wildcats forward in the Southeastern Conference food chain was agreeing to pay the football coordinators the money that coordinators are paid across the SEC.
He wanted Brown. He got Brown. Wise move.
Brown is getting paid because the work he did over five seasons as the offensive coordinator at Troy and Texas Tech was remarkable. Brown is a Kentucky guy. He understands the suffering of Kentucky fans. He aspires to the same Shock the World moments that UK fans hope will one day arrive.
Some numbers on Brown: The five offenses that he has directed have averaged 44 passing attempts and 315 yards per game.
Neal Brown is not afraid of incompletions or interceptions. His ratio of passing plays to running plays over his career as a coordinator would give a conservative coach indigestion. It is 1.35 passes for every run. All five of his teams completed at least 60 percent of their passes, and the number was better than 65 percent all three seasons at Texas Tech.
Obvious question: How does that compare to what Kentucky fans endured last season as the Wildcats won two games?
The final Joker Phillips/Randy Sanders' offense passed the football 32 times per game, averaging 176 yards. The Wildcats ran the ball more than they passed it by a ratio of 1.04 runs for every pass.
That is not the way college football is played in 2013.
Kentucky completed only 56.9 percent of its passes. You can't win with a number like that in college football today, but the Wildcats passed the ball better last season than they did in 2011 when they completed only 50.9 percent of their throws.
Here is another thing to remember: Brown wasn't working with Johnny Manziel or Andrew Luck in Lubbock.
The Texas Tech quarterback last season was Seth Doege. He had quite a season, ranking ninth in the nation in passing efficiency and 20th in total offense.
In high school, Doege was a three-star recruit who picked Texas Tech over New Mexico and Purdue. Nice prospect but not a guy who was getting a home visit from Nick Saban or Bob Stoops.
In the pros, Doege is looking for a job. He was an undrafted free agent who went to training camp with the Atlanta Falcons and was cut without appearing in an exhibition game.
Translation: Brown can do special things with an offense even if he does not have Tim Couch slinging the ball in every direction. He starts that process with Kentucky Saturday night.