NEW ORLEANS — Oklahoma coach Brent Venables' first game as the Sooners' lone defensive coordinator could possibly be the biggest yet of his young coaching career. And on Wednesday Venables faced another first as he took the podium for his first press conference as OU's top dog on defense. Below is a transcript of selected comments from Venables comments on replacing Mike Stoops and the challenge ahead for OU's defensive against LSU's offensive attack.
On what LSU's offense does best
Probalby with their skill players and the way they spread the ball out, starting with (wide receiver Michael) Clayton. They've got two great complimentary receivers with explosive speed in (Devery) Henderson and (Skyler) Green who are very explosive, and they do a very good job of distributing the ball to them. Their tight end is also a key part of their offense when they need to find a play, either on third down and medium or on play action to stretch the ball the down the middle of the field to create some mismatch problems.
"They've obviously had a great deal of balance, because they rushed for over 200 yards against a very good Georgia defense. They have a solid offensive line that knows how to create keys and give their offense good balance. They have three very good running backs, and watching them on tape through the course of the year the way they rotate their backs, they have a great deal of confidence in any of the three. They all give a little back of a different type of game offensively.
"(Matt) Mauck has done a tremendous job with their offense. He makes great decisions and manages the game well in coming in and out of the right plays. He plays with a great deal of confidence and poise. He and Clayton are the real leaders emotionally and spiritually."
On what LSU does differently then any offense OU has seen this year
"Probably the way LSU utilizes everyone from top to bottom on a consistent basis. I think they are very smart in how they distribute the ball both running and passing. Some people will say they don't concentrate on any one thing, and that's what makes them so difficult to defend.
"Kansas State gave us trouble, but they didn't have that kind of balance in their offense, because, obviously, Kansas State is more option oriented, but LSU does enough with the option too to make you aware of it and make you neutralize it defensively.
"But their (LSU's) play action passes, especially on first and 10 and second and long, and the way they execute their offense has been a key. The way they've been able to run the ball allows that play action, and then in third and medium allows them a great deal of decisions.
On LSU's running backs
"At some point in time, you've got to say they're all pretty good. The first thing I look at with Justin (Vincent) is that he's a very strong runner. He's got good vision, good acceleration, and he pass protects very well. He's out there a bunch on third down and they always look to him as their go-to guy. He protects the ball well and plays very hard, but all of their backs play hard and do a great job.
"Justin ran 87 yards for a touchdown against a good Georgia defense. He has great speed, and he ran over four or five of them, and then ran beyond another two of three of them who had angles. They're all very good, very talented, explosive and real threats.
On LSU quarterback Matt Mauck's scrambling ability
"He's been able to consistently to get them out of trouble by finding more time and giving his receivers more time to get open down the field and make a lot of big plays because of that. He can pull it down before he gets to the line of scrimmage, but he has an awareness of where his receivers are at and has the ability get the ball to them. In some situations, he's been able to do that and move the chains, and that can be frustrating for a defense.
"You've always got to have an awareness of his ability. Even though he certainly isn't as athletic as Ell Roberson, he's athletic enough to buy himself time with his feet, and his feet have gotten him out of trouble throughout the year. We're definitely aware of the fact that he is a tremendous athlete, and being a two-sport player and having that type of success speaks volumes to his ability and what he has inside as well."
On taking over for Mike Stoops as the defensive coordinator
"He probably has a great deal of influence on game day with his game planning and play calling, and he has been very instrumental in all of our success. Hopefully, I've been paying attention now for the last 10 years that he and I have been working together between myself, Mike, Bob and the rest of our staff, and we'll get by.
"Our philosophies are the same. It's aggressive, it's discipline, it makes sense. Anybody that understands football that watches us play can put two and two together we're not going to try to be cheap, but try to do the things we do well and rely on our players' abilities. We've got a great deal of talent on that defense, and I think that's been well-documented. The worst you can do with that is try to outwit yourself. We will still be very aggressive with our philosophy, but very sound in what we do, play hard and be very physical."
Venables ready for first challenge against LSU
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