Is your confidence pretty high with this group?
Venables: Yeah, I mean obviously we played a very clean game, very few mistakes. If you want talk about mistakes, I have a small list of them. Like the quarterback scramble-around, the couple misfits in the run game, those couple things in particular. But our guys played a really disciplined, clean football game. Like I said after the game, that was the most pleasing part of the game. Sometimes statistics are misleading, and good or bad, you know you play well, and you’re happy, and you’re satisfied, and that’s kind of how you felt after the game. Our guys, for four quarters played a real complete and very precise game, and executed at a high level.
Robert Smith and Corey Crawford both said that it was their favorite game they’ve played in, did you see that?
Venables: It looked like they had a lot of confidence. They were very focused for the entire game. I really felt that they enjoyed playing cause they knew what was coming. Overall, the discipline, and the game is so much simpler when you play with discipline, and you’re reading your key, trusting your key, and reacting to your key. Then you’re simplifying the game, so now you’re able to play fast and physical. Everyone did their part; there were no “weak links” in the game. All three levels really played well. You saw guys enjoying the game. That doesn’t happen a lot, sometimes you catch your team really on or really off, and you overwhelm them. As a football team they really complemented each other. It’s not just about just playing well, it’s also catching them on a bad day too. Where sometimes it’s not as much you, it’s you and them not executing for whatever reason. With that being said, I can see why we were having fun out there.
I know it took him a while to find is spot, but what was your initial evaluation of Vic Beasley?
Venables: I thought he was a linebacker. Obviously, he’s a ball of muscle and he has good length to him. That was before I saw him play. He’s explosive and has great change in direction.
How would you evaluate Petrino as an offensive line and play caller against some of the good offensive lines you’ve face?
Venables: His track record speaks for itself. He’s very good on offense and has had incredible success, very consistent success, and more success than most. He doesn’t need me to rate him, he’s done well for himself. Wherever he goes, his players play on a high level. He knows how to put them in position, be successful, how to execute, be precise, be competitive, and tough. That’s what I can appreciate the most, whether it’s his receivers blocking the perimeter or the competitiveness overall as a unit and the confidence they play with.
Is there a particular trait or trend to his (Petrino’s) playbook?
Venables: I think moving the ball and scoring points. How they do it is not just one thing. He does an awesome job. I think he understands how to utilize his personnel based on what he has.
Is it fun to go up against a guy like that?
Venables: It’s not me. I’m not going to tackle anybody or cover anybody. You’re playing your schemes, how you called it, that’s the way tiger players play. The precision, the technique, the effort, and the toughness-- it’s about fundamentals. The coaches get way too much credit.
Dabo mentioned Tony Steward, not only playing at a high level, but also looking like he’s having the time of his life out there. Do you have a similar assessment as to his level of play and his enthusiasm?
Venables: Yeah, he’s play very confidently, having fun, and enjoying himself. He’s in a leadership role, which is very natural for him. He’s playing really well overall this season. He’s hitting a new stride right now and it’s a great time for him to do that, with it being his senior year, obviously, and the things he’s had to overcome. As a coach you always enjoy seeing your players have that kind of success, especially as hard of a worker as he is.