Here were some of the highlights of that converation:
How does the talent you have returning this year on your defensive line compare to that of what you had at other stops along the way with some of the other great defenses you've coached?
Venables: I'm not into comparing. But we do have a solid two-deep of quality depth and that's with talent and experience. Bunch of guys who have played - bunch of long and athletic guys who have good size and like to play. So, it's good. It's been developed the last couple of years. Coach Hobby and Coach Brooks have done a great job teaching football. All that talent with game experience doesn't do any good if you aren't playing with the right technique and the right kind of mindset and attitude. Playing down there in the trenches is very tough and physically demanding. They have to have the love for that nasty attitude to play at a high level. We're fortunate that our guys have that as a group.
How has Kellen Jones looked so far coming off the knee injury?
Venables: I think he has looked pretty good. I think he has done well. He is still in a yellow jersey which means he isn’t at full speed, but we haven’t tackled anybody yet. His change of direction has been really good. There hasn’t been a lot of swelling, and we have a lot of depth there so we don’t have to have him out there every snap.
Could Vic Beasley play more as a linebacker this season?
Venables: I think last season when you saw him in a two-point stance he was out on the edge. You see that against the spread in the running game, and we put Corey Crawford there. If you look back at tape of Oklahoma, I have done that for years and years. I think in the spread game, those guys are more like outside linebackers and the game is out on the perimeter. The first thing they do against an option team or a zone-read team is on the snap they stand up and now they are in a two-point stance and we feel like that gives them an advantage. You see a lot of quick throws and a lot of bubbles. It gets them in more of a ready position and eliminates steps in the progression.
How have your freshman linebackers looked so far?
Venables: I like all of three of our young freshmen – Chris Register and Kendall Joseph and Korie Rogers. All three of those guys have showed they have instincts and they are physical. They all move pretty good and have a good level of football intelligence and have good football size already. They have a bright future because they also have high football intelligence.
What have things looked like at the nickel/SAM linebacker spot between Korrin Wiggins and Travis Blanks?
Venables: The battle is good. Just how you want it as a coach. Having a group of guys that can run and hit and have instincts and are tough. Travis has the most experience at that position but it’s a good battle but it’s fun to watch. But when it’s all said and done I think we will have more than one guy that will play there for us.
How has Stephone Anthony looked so far?
Venables: He's one of your best players. One of the guys you coach the hardest. He wants to be great. Those aren't just words. I'm not just throwing it out there. He's completely bought in. The notes he takes and the questions he asks. How he coaches the other players. Great motor. Very intense. He's out there with his hair on fire every day. He's willing to pay the price. Because of all of those things, you tend to hype him. You want to talk about a guy that's completely bought in. To me, it doesn't get any better than him.