Venables on Oregon, Bowl practices
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has been very busy as of late trying to formulate a game plan on how to stop the Oregon Ducks offense, while also trying to get out and recruit. As a coordinator, Venables doesn't get out and recruit as much as he once did, when he earned the reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country. But as he has stated in earlier interviews, he loves to get out and sell the Sooner program when he gets the opportunity, and he has been taking advantage of some opportunities the past couple of weeks. When coach Stoops is on the road while the Sooners are practicting, it is Venables and offensive coordinator Chuck Long who run practice. And after a recent practice, Coach Venables sat down with OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill. JH: In your opinion, how have practices gone over the last couple of weeks? BV: "Practices have gone very well. Our guys are concentrating on school and finishing up with that, and considering that most of our coaches are not around here, because they are out recruiting, all the guys are doing surprisingly well. They are excited and anxious to get back out here, and I think they are looking forward to getting into our game preparations for San Diego." JH: Even when Bob is not at practice things run very smoothly with you and Coach Long running practice, which just shows how tight the staff and team really is doesn't it? BV: "I think that all college teams, not just ours, run better with structure, discipline and routine. Everything stays within a routine and they understand what drill stays within what drill. Thus they do it over and over and they can actually do it without the coaches. You get a lot of that in the summer as well, except without the pads." JH: Do you stay with your basic routine or you are working with so many young guys do you throw in some different drills, because you want to see how they will react in different situations? BV: "It is the same routine, but we use different personnel groupings and we try to put guys in different situations based on calls and things of that nature. Most things don't change though." JH: Last week you said during the season when you got mad at your number two's you would just fire them and put the one's back in. But during these drills you are not firing the two's when they make a mistake are you? BV: "I have been doing that less and less (Venables says with a laugh)." JH: Among the young guys, who impresses you on the defensive side? BV: "Oh, jeez, it is hard to just point out a guy or two because we are playing a whole lot of guys. The guys that have played with us, or been with us in our two deep this year, are guys who certainly have stood out a lot to us. Others, like Brian Jackson, have really played well lately, and we will need him to play well right away for us next year. "Keenan Clayton and Nic Harris are two guys that jump out at you. Even a guy like Auston English, who we have played this year, but not as much as we would ideally like is playing as if the light is starting to click on for him. Alonzo (Dotson) is a guy who has practiced the whole year and who has really given us a great look at what he can do. "DeMarcus Granger has really improved his technique, footwork and his understanding of all the different techniques that he has to use to be an inside guy and to dominate inside." JH: How important are those practices for your team? BV: "Extremely important — that they don't waste the reps and that they zero in on the things that will help them become the players they need to be. They get to work at the intensity that they need to practice at and, obviously, use the technique necessary to practice at a high level and to be a great player. "Then they need to understand the language, but most of all too just practice with the intensity that it takes and the tempo that we practice at, and the maturity that it takes play after play." JH: When will you start to gameplan for Oregon? BV: "By the end of this week we will start work as a team on Oregon. As coaches, we have already started to do that, and that has enabled us to really get a jump on our ideas and basic structure that we want to use gameplan-wise. The great thing about that is that we are really able to fine-tune things early on in preparation." JH: What are you early impressions of Oregon? BV: "They are very good at the skill (positions). They are very good at running back, receiver and tight end. They flex their tight ends out like wide receivers. They are physical wide receivers and they are big, fast and athletic. The offensive line is solid. "At quarterback, they are using a two-headed system with both quarterbacks competing over 65 percent of their passes. They have played with a great deal of effectiveness since the loss of Kellen Clemens against Arizona. This same type of structure is like Utah and BYU, while Oklahoma State had a little bit of that out of their spread, and Texas A&M had a little bit of that as well in regards to the motion of the receivers. You saw that even in our first game against TCU, so with have some familiarity with most the schemes that they use. "They are a very explosive offense that went through a very tough Pac-10 and, going into the third quarter had control the game against USC before they gave up a couple of big plays. And we know what USC can do when they get rolling. We expect a great challenge and to face a team with a great deal of speed. "Defensively, they play good defense, and I know they have two really good defensive linemen. They put a lot of pressure on people and they are athletic in the back-end as well. All things considered, going against the high powered-offenses that they do week in and week out in the Pac-10, they were one of the better defenses in the Pac-10.
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