Venables on defense: "We'll be fine"

OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables talks about the Sooners' performance against UAB and Saturday's matchup against Washington.

Below are excerpts from OU defensive coordinator Brent Venable's press conference with the media earlier this week.

On if he's glad the defense got an attention-getter against UAB

Venables: You bet. I think, when it's all said and done, what our guys see is you can't be a little bit off here or there — six inches here or there, a little bit hesitant here or there. It doesn't take much, and that's why we're on them all the time.

Our players have enough maturity to recognize, 'Oh, that's what you meant.' We told you, now let's get our stuff right and do things right. Again, don't try to do too much. Try to do what we ask each guy to. And if you do, it all clicks and it all works.

On how Washington having an athletic quarterback will change what they'll do defensively

Venables: It has your attention schematically, technique-wise, what you're having your guys do on all your calls. Obviously, there has to be great awareness on how you rush the passer, how you pressure the run game, how you pressure the pass game.

He (Washington QB Isaiah Stanback) wants to be a thrower, too. And he's a good thrower. He'll have patience to sit back there and he knows he's got the skill. It's a pro-style, west coast style of offense at times as well, so they're very multiple in what they do as they attack you from the throwing standpoint, let alone the running standpoint.

But what you know at any time is he can pull it down. It doesn't matter what kind of positioning you have, or what kind of skill guys you have, the guy's an electronic 10.4 100 meter guy.

On still being excited about the future of the defense, despite their performance against UAB, because the mistakes they made are correctable

Venables: It's fundamentals and technique. Those guys weren't busting assignments everywhere. That wasn't the case. It was more technique and fundamentals.

Now, occasionally (when defending) the zone read somebody is supposed to take the quarterback and didn't take the quarterback. Somebody was supposed to take the back and didn't take the back. But some of it was hesitation as opposed to a complete bust. I took the quarterback when I should've taken the back. I took the back when I should've taken the quarterback.

That happened once or twice. And that makes you mad because that's not being smart. Again, the zone read, they just didn't develop it last weekend. We've played Vince Young really, really well and played the schemes the same way and been outstanding defending him over the years. But again, it takes guys with great discipline and focus.

And then some of the things, you can't always put it on the players. Some of the things they did were new. That was a new offense, at least half of it from what we saw off the tape. They were watching it develop as it took place on Saturday and we had to make adjustments along the way.

But, sure, we feel good. We don't think, all of the sudden, we don't have good players and good schemes. We'll be fine. Again, we played really hard. If we weren't playing hard, if we weren't playing tough, if guys were not cohesive in how they saw things, then that would be very discouraging and be very concerning. And that's not the case.

When you get your guys playing hard, clean up our techniques and get guys to have a little bit more discipline in regards to assignments, we know we'll be fine.

On the play of cornerback D.J. Wolfe

Venables: We've seen D.J. play really, really good technique and improve his technique greatly from last year.

Sometimes when they haven't thrown to your guy for 10, 12, 14 snaps, you get a little comfortable. And that comes with a lack of maturity and a lack of focus. It's all good over here and the next thing you know, bam, a guy runs by you.

It happens. And you don't like it to happen, but hopefully if you want to stay on the field he, being any of the players, they're gonna stay on edge.

On the running ability of Washington QB Isaiah Stanback

Venables: Once he gets going, he's really quick. There's some real issues there, obviously, when he's more athletic than your really good athletes. That's concerning.

For a lack of a better term, everybody on the field's got to be aware. And again, scrambling around and having the patience to find the open receivers downfield is what he's done really, really well.

And that's what scares you too, because you know at some point and time during the game he's going break out of the pocket and scramble and use his legs to his strength. So you've got people that are responsible to contain him, even from there, yet at the same time hold their coverage.

You don't want to turn somebody loose in the back-end, and that's what an athletic guy can do. When the receivers are on the same page with him, it creates some possible problems for you.

On OU's defensive ends being key to containing Stanback

Venables: It's a big part. Everybody has their part. I don't want to minimize everybody else because they won't be the only one's responsible.

You have to be creative and give them multiple looks too on how it is that you're going to defend certain things. And you have to try and give them (defensive ends) help when you can.

Again, when they've got a stacked deck against them, you can't expect them to do it all themselves. We'll look at ways that we can get them some help too.

On if the zone read, which is a play that UAB ran and Washington will run, is the hardest play to defend in college football

Venables: I don't know. It's hard if the guy's a good player and people know how to run it.

On if the zone read has caused more worry in their game-planning

Venables: No, you see it every day (laughs). It's a piece of cake. It is. At the same time, it's basic principles. It's option principles.


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