The Ballad of Neal Brown (Fun Stat Nerd Tidbit: Texas Tech)

Neal Brown is younger than I am, which both annoys me and impresses me. He is one of the faster-rising assistant coaches in the country, and while this blurb in his Texas Tech bio annoys me to no end*...

In his first year at Texas Tech and in the rugged Big 12 Conference, Brown produced one of the best offensive units in the league. His 2010 squad finished fourth in the conference in total offense (460.2 yards-per-game) and fourth in scoring at 33.1 points-per-game. Most impressively, Brown inherited a team that finished last in the league in rushing offense in 2009 (84.0 yards-per-game) and increased that total by an average of 57 yards-per-game and the Red Raiders finished in ninth in 2010 (141.3 yards-per-game).

...I'll overlook that for now and focus on his actual successes, not his ridiculously-spun "successes."

Ten years ago, Neal Brown was catching 37 passes as a receiver at UMass. Five years ago, he was preparing for his first year as receivers coach at Troy after serving the same role at Sacred Heart in 2004 and Delaware in 2005. Now, he's at the helm of a high-octane (well, in 2010 it was high-octane-ish), BCS conference offense. Meanwhile ... ten years ago I was shaking off an incredible case of senioritis and preparing for my first year of grad school, and five years ago I was getting ready to move into the in-laws' basement** to save up for a house (which we now own and is awesome). Where did I go wrong?

Anyway, Brown has been an offensive coordinator for three years: two at Troy, one at Tech. Here's what he has produced:

Year Team SR+
Rk
PPP+
Rk
S&P+
Rk
Rushing
S&P+ Rk
Passing
S&P+ Rk
Std.
Dwns
S&P+ Rk
Pass.
Dwns
S&P+ Rk
Adj.
Run-
Pass
2008 Troy 55 96 77 77 80 76 88 43.9%
2009 Troy 34 37 34 55 33 64 33 43.0%
2010 Texas Tech 48 46 43 86 30 49 35 38.9%
AVERAGE 46 60 51 73 48 63 52 41.9%
LAST TWO YEARS
41 42 39 71 32 57 34 41.0%

Tech fans will be hoping that the Red Raiders make a second-year leap like the one Troy took in 2009, but one can pretty quickly see where Brown's (and his personnel's) strengths and weaknesses have been to date. He still needs to figure out how to milk more out of the run game -- one of Mike Leach's biggest strengths was that, while he didn't call many running plays (and by all means, he should have absolutely called more of them), when he did call one, it worked really, really well. Tech regressed considerably in this regard last year, and only part of that can be ascribed to Baron Batch's injuries. The line also didn't block well at all, and that wasn't Batch's fault. Beyond that, however, this shows that Brown is rather aggressive on passing and effective on passing downs.

As for the "second-year leap," I'm not particularly sure about that one, not with a new quarterback, new running backs, and 38% of last year's targets needing to be replaced. I see slight improvement here, but perhaps no more than that until 2012.

---

* Tech's Rushing S&P+ ranking in 2009: 26th. In 2010: 86th. Just because you attempted more rushes doesn't mean you "most impressively" improved the running game.

** That's right, at the beginning of my time as a blogger, I officially lived in my mother-in-law's basement. Stereotypes, for the win!

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