The following is an edited transcript from Tuesday's interview with Venables.
What kind of challenge do you guys have against LSU?
Venables: It's a great challenge. Great program, great tradition. They've played as well as anybody the last two years in college football. They've recruited really well, have great coaches. It's a physical team, both sides of the ball. Very intense football team. If you described how they play, it's with a sense of desperation, at a very high level, which you aspire for your own program to play like. A very tough minded, and disciplined football team. Great speed, great energy. And, again, a great brand of toughness. It'll be a great challenge for us, on a great stage, and give us an opportunity compete against an elite football team.
Did you see their play improve as the quarterback gained confidence throughout the season?
Venables: I don't know. I think that they've made more of an emphasis the last three games. They've passed for close to 300 yards each game. I think they've had great balance. I think, when they've thrown, they've thrown very efficiently, when they've taken their opportunities. They've been more aggressive throwing the ball it started with Alabama. They threw for about 280 against them, close to 300 these last couple of games. But they're still running it very effectively. Great stable of backs that run behind their pads, a very physical offensive line that plays with flat backs and comes after you.
Have you taken more of a hand in coaching the secondary with coach Harbison gone?
Venables: Obviously, I've got to be more active that way, to make sure we get what we want there. It's been a teamwork-like effort with [Brian] Mance and Wesley, coach Goodwin. They're doing a good job, too. It's a collective effort like it is every week. It's a staff deal, with everybody being on the same page. We're not reinventing the wheel or reinventing ourselves and what we're doing. Just making sure we have a good understanding. We're trying to be precise in what we're doing. Along the way, we're getting better, fundamentally. It's a good opportunity with these extra practices, to try to improve that way, and get back to some of the basics.
Do you see Travis Blanks playing more safety in this game?
Venables: Yeah, we'll look at him at safety when they're in a lot of their two back, heavy personnel groups. He's gotten a lot of work there. He's looked good. He's improving.
How's Bashaud Breeland looked now that he's had some time to recover?
Venables: I don't know if he'll play or not. He's not healthy yet. He hasn't been doing things full speed right now.
Will you have any input on the new defensive backs coach?
Venables: Maybe, to a certain degree. It's Coach Swinney's hire. It's got to be somebody that he feels comfortable, fits what he's looking for with this program. I'm sure he's got a number of things to look at, from reputation, character, schemes, recruiting ability and being a good football coach. There's a wide variety of things. There's a bunch of qualified candidates, and he'll do due diligence in finding the best qualified guy that meets his criteria. I think he's seeking some input.
How has Josh Watson developed in the second half of the season that's allowed him to get a spot atop the depth chart?
Venables: He's just been consistent. Nothing, necessarily, that's spectacular. He's been the most consistent.
Looking ahead to LSU
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