Arthur Brown determined to thwart NFL’s offensive golden era
Baylor quarterback Nick Florence completed his first pass against the Kansas State defense on Nov. 17 of last year. He also connected on his second attempt. And his third. And fourth.
On his fifth pass of the game, Florence found Tevin Reese for a 38-yard touchdown. Kansas State answered with a score of its own, but Florence came right back with three more completions, opening a drive that he finished by scampering to the end zone from 12 yards out.
Kansas State entered the game against Baylor at 10-0, ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings and needing just two more wins to play for the national title. This, instead, was the Wildcats’ worst nightmare, all their excitement replaced by a feeling of helplessness.
They left Waco, Texas on that Saturday evening the recipient of a 52-24 beatdown, those BCS hopes swept away in a tornado of big plays from Florence, Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin.
It was all too familiar a sight for Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown.
For all the successes — 23 wins, two top-15 rankings, a Fiesta Bowl berth — that Brown enjoyed during his two seasons with the Wildcats, the rewards might have been even greater had the team’s defense not vanished at inopportune times. Kansas State started the 2011 season with an undefeated run, too, rolling to 7-0 before coughing up 110 total points in back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
All told, in the five losses Brown suffered through with the Wildcats, the Kansas State defense allowed an average of 45.2 points. So, while it was fun to see his offense score at a rate of five TDs per game in 2011 and ’12, the defensive breakdowns haunted him.
And now, as he prepares to be drafted into an increasingly offensive-minded NFL, Brown would like to prevent those nightmares from happening again.
“Especially from a viewer’s point of view, the offensive game is a great one to watch,” Brown told SI.com. “When it comes down to it as a defensive player, though, we still have the job to do — control the offensive scheme, offensive progression.
“A lot of guys and a lot of coaches are looking forward to getting more of a defensive-dominated game.”
Baylor rushed for 342 yards in that upset of the Wildcats; Oregon then hit 219 against Kansas State’s defense in a 35-17 Fiesta Bowl romp. Brown totaled 11 tackles in the former defeat, nine more in the latter.
Unfortunately for him, those numbers don’t reflect what the tape shows: that Brown was not on his game, especially in that loss to Oregon.
“Defensively, we gave up big plays that hurt us, some that were repetitious that we failed to get corrections made,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said following the setback at Baylor. “We struggled in terms of tackling. We missed a lot of assignments. We were obviously not good against the running game.”
But like Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who this week lamented that too many people are judging him on a poor BCS title game showing against Alabama, Brown’s career at Kansas State produced far more than a couple of shaky showings late in 2012. In reality, without Brown manning the middle of Kansas State’s defense, the Wildcats’ meltdowns might have occurred even more frequently.
Brown produced 101 tackles in 2011 and 100 last season. He also picked off three passes during his college career, including one each off Robert Griffin III and Geno Smith.
Pretty impressive numbers for a player who, unable to crack the starting lineup, transferred from Miami to Kansas State prior to the 2010 season.
“That was a great learning experience for me,” Brown said. “Really just having the chance to be in that environment that I was in not only prepared me for what I’m about to go into now, [but] that move, even to Kansas State, has prepared me to approach and be successful at this next level”
Brown’s younger brother, Bryce, actually beat him to the NFL. He also left both Miami and Kansas State in the rear-view mirror en route.
Born 10 months after Arthur, Bryce verbally committed to Miami as well, before reversing course and signing with Tennessee. When that plan flamed out, Bryce Brown transferred to Kansas State to play alongside his brother. But Bryce left the Wildcats program in September 2011 and entered the 2012 draft, where he was taken by the Eagles.
The roundabout trip paid off — Bryce broke into the Eagles’ lineup late last year and finished his rookie season with 564 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
Starting in a couple of weeks, Arthur will get his shot.
“It was helpful to watch Bryce and his mentality, his approach not necessarily to the game but the business side of it,” Arthur Brown said at the NFL scouting combine. “It has helped me in this process leading up to the combine and the draft.”
Bryce’s circuitous college career put his draft standing in jeopardy last April — he was not selected until the 229th overall pick. Arthur should come off the board about 200 or so selections before that.
A team seeking a nose-for-the-ball linebacker, in fact, could make Brown a Round 1 pick. His size has been a concern for some scouts, but Brown measured in at 6-foot-0 and 241 pounds at the combine, up 16 pounds from his playing weight at Kansas State.
Brown explained that he thinks he might be better suited for a 4-3 defense, “due to the fact that I’m more familiar” with that formation, though he could slot in for just about any team in the league.
“That part of it’s kind of unknown, and it depends on what team drafts me and what the need of that team is,” Brown said. “I may go to a team that’s looking for that initial impact player, but I may go to a team that has a pre-set and stable lineup, and I will have to sit back and learn from the guys.
“Either way, I don’t really know what to expect.”
What Brown does know is that he’s weary of watching offenses run the football world. He’s spent his pre-draft months studying more tape, trying to learn what he will be up against in the NFL.
It is all he can do to ensure that the days of watching his team allow 40 or 50 points are behind him.
“I’m trying to get a better grasp on just the philosophy of defense, and even the offense itself,” Brown said. “That’s a great responsibility, what we do as a defensive unit.”