Venables breaks down Oregon's offense

Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables discusses the matchup between the Oklahoma defense and the Oregon offense. Duck quarterback Kellen Clemens (pictured above) threw 18 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions while completing 182 of his 304 pass attempts for 2,400 last season. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The second-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will host the Oregon Ducks this weekend in one of the top intersectional games in college football. Oregon was upset last weekend at home against Indiana, 30-24, when they turned the ball over seven times. However, the Ducks almost overcame all the mistakes and finished with 500 yards of total offense.

The Ducks defense gave a good account of themselves allowing only 200 yards total offense to Indiana, but they couldn't overcome the mistakes of their offense. Thus, Oregon comes to Norman desperately needing a win, despite the fact they are a 27-point underdog.

Earlier today, I had a chance to talk with Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables on the Sports Animal along with Bob Barry Jr. about the game against the Ducks.

BBJ: I am sure you are hoping that the Oregon offense will give you the ball a bunch of times just like they did against Indiana?

BV: "We would love to see that happen and we are going to do everything that we can to go after the football. They put the ball on the ground a bunch and put it into the other teams hands. However, that is not really indicative of the style of play that they had through the course of last year. I am sure that it is an area that they emphasized and worked on during the course of a week."

JH: The fact that they put up a bunch of yards and almost overcame those turnovers is an indication that they can play some good football isn't it?

BV: "They chuck it around and they have proven that against quality team's year-in and-year-out. Just looking at their season last year and at their productivity offensively, they have an explosive offense that is difficult to defend. They are very smart at how they attack. It is a pro style offense and it will be somewhat of a different look for us this year. It is kind of a little bit like our offense in some of the formations — the shifts and the motions that you will see pre-snap."

"They have a really good quarterback in Kellen Clemens that is a good athlete and who has a good arm. He can beat you equally with his legs as he can with his arm. Oregon has excellent skill receivers and a great tight end. They do a great job of distributing the ball to all of those guys and in keeping you off balance. They have a 65-35 run-pass, which is probably somewhat surprising to a lot of people. The balance that they seek is a big reason why they have been as productive as they have over the years.

"You look at Jeff Tedford (California Head Coach) and the success he has had being the former offensive coordinator there under Mike Bellotti's system, and both of those types of offenses are very difficult to defend. They have had a great deal of success against teams throughout the years."

BBJ: Based on what they did last week and in the past, they will score some points but give up a lot to. I would think that your defense made significant improvement from game one to game two. How did you evaluate your defense from game one to game two?

BV: "We are making improvement, but we have to make some big improvement here from the last game to this game and going into Big 12 Conference play. It is a lot of the little things because I think we have the right guys in the right positions. However, now it is a lot of the little things that you know that you come to find out during the course of competition on Saturday's that you miss Derrick Strait and Teddy Lehman, who have the ability to get guys lined up and make all the checks and adjustments. You could give them a lot of little things, tips and reminders, which they could communicate to the players just because they were starters for four years with vast amounts of experience.

"The things that our players are experiencing for the first time are things that we need to step up in the back-end and at linebacker. We need guys to take it by the horns and not just worry about themselves, but to get things squared away on the field because once the hay is in the barn it is up to them to get out there and do those things. As soon as they can get out there and do those things on the field, obviously the more sound you are going to be and a smarter defense will be out there on the field. We feel like we have the right guys, but now they just have to take more responsibility in that regard. It is a little thing, but a big thing. And to me, it will make a difference in us being very solid on defense or really, really good.

JH: Since Oregon plays a pro style offense, will that test your multiple defenses theory?

BV: "We would anticipate that, based on what they have done in the past and what they did last week and last year. You are going to see a pro style offense on the field a great deal. And like most teams, as the down and distance gets critical they will start changing out their personnel by putting more skill and speed on the field. We will match them as they do so."

BBJ: Oregon suffered a big loss last week, and you at Oklahoma have always bounced back well after a loss. How do you expect Oregon to be when on Saturday?

BV: "They will come out here desperate and fight with the attitude that their backs are against the wall. Whenever we have been in a desperate situation we have always responded. The margin for error in their mind is none, and to me they are going to let it all hang out. They are going to come in here excited to play because everybody is telling them they are a bunch of chumps and bums, and everybody is talking about that they are a four touchdown underdog, which is absolutely insane. I would imagine that all of those factors would be used as motivation by their coaching staff.

"They feel like they have a lot to prove because they know they are a good football team that shot themselves in the foot multiple times and still had a chance to win the game. That is really the silver lining in their mind if they could put the loss out to the side. I am sure they are eager to come out and prove to themselves, their fans and the entire country that they are more than worthy. They have been in these situations before. They play great teams every year and you have seen how they have handled themselves, whether it was against Michigan last year or whoever. That was a Michigan team that played in the Rose Bowl last year. Their experience over the last five, six, seven yeasr in these situations is that they respond well."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories