Q&A with Brent Venables

Oklahoma's defensive coordinator talks defense and his Sooners' matchup against the Kansas offense.

Below is a transcript of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables' interview with James Hale on media day Tuesday in Norman.

On the state of the defense

Venables: "You've got to create some good luck for yourself. You can't do things where you're hurting yourself. It's just being a little more consistent, it's as simple as that.

"As hard as that might be for some to believe, that's what it comes down to — the basics, the elementary things. It's technique, it's focus, it's fundamentals. It's playing with the urgency, the consistency.

"When it all comes together, and at times it's been there, it's really good. Top-shelf good. But it doesn't take much to have a breakdown. And right now we're not good enough to overcome those breakdowns. In year's past, we have been.

"If somebody breaks down in coverage, yet somebody beats somebody up front and forces the quarterback to throw it away or take a sack...I can go on millions of analogies that right now we're not able to overcome.

"A lot of times, in the past, we've had those same mistakes and what not, but there's been enough playmakers and experience or good luck and good fortune on our side where you're able to overcome those things.

"Right now, collectively as a team, we're not good enough to do that."

On the players beginning to recognize their mistakes and the importance that busting on one play might have on the game

Venables: "They have recognized it. It's very apparent.

"Even in a couple of the wins you see where the margin for error isn't much. And even in a loss, you're able to find a number of good things when things are executed correctly — when guys are in the right position, when they're playing with the right technique.

"That's what has kept these guys positive and focused and working hard as ever. They're smart, but it's our job as coaches to point those things out and put them in position where they can have the kind of consistency that it takes to win."

On if he's had teams that are smarter than others

Venables: "A lot times that comes with football sense, instinctive players. Some of that will be with experience at key positions.

"You could probably get away with less experienced guys up front, as opposed to guys that are in playmaking positions and guys that are responsible to make checks, adjustments and have some game-ready awareness.

"It's a collective group of things that allow you to play smart, but some of those things are included."

On how the freshmen linebackers are playing

Venables: "Good. They haven't had a lot of opportunities, unfortunately, to get out and get great game experience. But a few snaps here or there, whether it's special teams or in the game, they've been good.

"When you really know whether or not they're ready is in practice in game week and preparation. We've felt really good about those guys and they way they practiced. And going into the games, knock on wood, if something happens that they're ready to go."

On how Ryan Reynolds played against Texas

Venables: "Outside his first play he was like 19 yards deep versus their two-back set, and they ran the lead right at him. So, he ran from centerfield and attacked the fullback. It was really pretty good, other than his pre-snap alignment.

"He was all juiced up, played hard. He got in there, was physical and made some plays. It was really good for him. Those are things that you can't simulate out here on a practice field. It was good for him. He did well."

On the Kansas offense

Venables: "They're probably going through some of the same things that we are, just not having the consistency that they would ideally like.

"They've got two smart quarterbacks. They put a lot on the quarterbacks — very similar to Kansas State checking at the line. They've got some good skill players.

"Their backs are playing hard averaging about six yards a carry. They're smart with the football, very protective with the football. They'll take their opportunities when you present it. They're almost sneaky good. They'll lull you to sleep and hit you over the top with some play-action or some trickery. It makes you work.

"They're not real flashy with what they do, but they're very sound in their schemes."

On his friendship with Kansas coach Mark Mangino

Venables: "We all have stories on each other, trust me. We do have a great relationship with him and have always pulled for him.

"He's done a fabulous job, not to the surprise from any of us. He does a super job, but unfortunately in these games somebody's got to win and somebody's got to lose."


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