One of the key match-ups Saturday in Stillwater will be the Oklahoma State running game against the Sooner defensive front. OSU feels they can run the ball down the Sooners throat, and Oklahoma doesn't feel anybody can run it down their throat.
And after practice Tuesday, I had a chance to talk with OU Co-Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables about Saturday's game.
JH: What is the best asset that OSU has offensively?
BV: "They have a very big offensive line combined with very good running schemes. They are as well-coached as anybody that we play. They are very sound in what they do. (Vernand) Morency is big, fast, and explosive, and he has great balance. He has great vision and he can go the distance every time he touches the football. Their tight ends are as good as anybodies. They utilize them in the right way and with their play-action game. (Donovan) Woods is starting to come into his own at quarterback. His brother (D'Juan Woods) is really making plays right now to like Rashaun did. They present a big-time challenge for us, because they have a number of different ways they can attack you."
JH: How do you like your match-up against the Cowboys?
BV: "Again, we need to come ready to play. The offensive line is one of their strengths on their team, and at times we have been really good on the defensive line. We need to bring our ‘A' game on Saturday."
JH: Early in the season you played passing offenses, but this game is really the kind of offense you like to face isn't it?
BV: "It is, but they present a number of challenges on who to get lined up. Your margin of error on your pre-snap alignment is not much. Everything they do is to get angles on you, to be able to out-flank you or out-gap you. Their offensive linemen are extremely well-coached. That is as big as anything. All their play-action stuff gets you running hard one way and then they suck you up on the play-action stuff. I am not just talking about the secondary, I am talking about the linebacker and defensive ends that must contain the boot then play the flat and the vertical. There are a bunch of different things because they are so effective running the ball that really sets up their play-action game real nicely."
JH: You will get Carl Pendleton back and Moe Dampeer is going more reps. Will both be a factor for you on Saturday?
BV: "All of our guys up front will be a factor for us. They have to be ready when their numbers are called. They have to be able to get separation up front, stay in their gaps and make plays for us."
JH: Just how good is Morency?
BV: "He is explosive, has great vision and great balance. He is patient and he is very good. Let me say this too, we don't agree with Remi Ayodele (stated that Benson was better than Morency)."
JH: Has Donovan Woods become a quarterback who is no longer one-dimensional?
BV: "Yeah, he can run it and he can throw it. He knows where to deliver the ball and the tight ends and the receivers are good at what they do. Their receivers are as good as anybody. (D'Juan) Woods can go up and get it, the tight ends are great at getting open, whether it is in the flat or the verticals. They are big body guys and easy targets."
JH: Is it a matter of being very disciplined in the secondary to protect against the deep pass?
BV: "That and we are going to need them to support in the run game. That is where the dilemma is. It is not like these guys can't run it and our secondary can set back in coverage all day. That is again where they challenge you forcing you to read your keys. And again, feeling the play-action and being in the right position on the football when they are throwing.
JH: You always talk about gaps, explain what you mean?
BV: "I think you have to play it both. If you are supposed to be in your gap as a defensive linemen and they run it in your gap, cut it back in your gap, then you need to be there ready to make a play. It is very simple elementary football. Everybody has one. They need to control it and stay on their feet, and when the ball is there tackle it."
JH: Is Lance Mitchell improving every week?
BV: "The last couple of weeks he is starting to get more and more comfortable and back to his old self and turning it lose. He had an excellent game last week and we will need him to have another big one this week."
Venables says stopping OSU a 'big-time challenge'
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