Venables talks defense, Oregon

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables talks about the state of OU's defense and Oregon's offense.

Below are excerpts from OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables' meeting with the media on Tuesday.

On the play of the defensive tackles after the first two games

Venables: We've got to be a lot better. There's a lot of places we've got to be a lot better. Before the season I was being asked what I thought, not a whole lot of people asked, but when asked what I thought I said that was an area of concern and safety would be an area of concern. When we talked about areas of of strength those are the two spots. And ufortunately our cornerback position is in that same category now.

It not all has been horrible by any stretch. There's been some real positive play, but as much as anything as an individual and as a group, it's about being consistent and doing what we ask each position guy to do. No more, no less.

That accountability has always been a mainstay for us since we finally got things going here after year one. It's something that we've been able to rely on and fortunately we've been able to win and still have some things that we need to shore up, as opposed to having those same mistakes and losing. But we've got to get a lot better and more consistent the way we've played, and with the inconsistencies. The big plays have killed and allowed games to be closer than they need to be.

At some point and time your luck runs out. It's two back-to-back games where, again, you give up four or five plays over 20 yards. Just some basic, fundamental things where a guy either doesn't have a sense of desperation when he should on third and long. On the first play of the game you talk about jumping the ball, having an attitude and knocking somebody in the mouth. It's disappointing, discouraging. It hits you in the gut.

We've got to continue to emphasize the basics and the fundamentals and continue to demand great effort and toughness. And guys have responded and said the right things, but we've talked enough. It's time to get out there and do it and do it collectively.

On DeMarcus Granger's increased playing time at defensive tackle

Venables: Yeah, he had more snaps in the second half and really played pretty well. At halftime, the emphasis was we're not going to stunt our way or, as much as anything there's no trickery to it. When you're in an eight-man front, we're not going to stunt our way into the run game and blitz the run game to stop the run. That's not what we do. We don't need to do that, we're not going to do it. We felt pressed to do it in the first half after getting gashed a few times.

And at halftime we told them we're going to make every basic call that we have that we made in the first half. We're going to play fundamentally sound football, and guys responded.

But it just shows you if one guys is not where he needs to be, one guy misses a tackle, one guy's not in his gap, one guy doesn't play technique, good teams or even average teams will find you and expose you.

On if DeMarcus Granger could develop into the type of dominant tackle they've had in the past

Venables: We believe so, we believe so. I think he's making progress to doing that.

On if the four-man defensive tackle rotation will split reps or will it be determined on how they're playing in the game

Venables: I think that will be the case. Our best players, without overwhelming anybody, just from being in shape. You don't want to wear anybody out and in the fourth quarter and not be any good. But the best players need to take more reps.

On how Steven Coleman has played

Venables: Steve has played strong. Steve's played strong, DeMarcus has improved. Again, the first thing you talk about being a great defense is it's all going to start up front and start inside. It's starts inside-out.

I think we have the right guys to be strong, but you have to be consistent. That's as big as anything that you absolutely have to have. I think the right guys are there in the mix.

Some guys that maybe a snap or two didn't play particularly well, they've played well, at least good enough over the last few years to lend you to believe that they'll get things corrected. But obviously, like every position, everybody is evaluated.

On if the linebackers are playing well against the run

Venables: We can be better. We can be more physical, we can be more downhill. We need to strike people and be more physical and explosive. And that's as a group. I think we can be better.

On if he feels they now have the right players in place

Venables: There's no question. I know without reservation we've got the right personnel to do it. I've seen enough of that. But again, talk's cheap. It's time to do it.

On Oregon's offense

Venables: Improved, more precise, cleaner than what they were when we saw them in the Holiday Bowl. And they were good then.

You can see just the experience returning. They're playing really well for early in the year — their timing, their route running, their catching, the quarterback's accuracy. He's more calm. You can see his poise out there on the field and the way he manages things.

The backs are really, really good players. Did you watch the game the other night? OK, you saw it too. Twenty-four's (Jeremiah Johnson has got a devastating stiff-arm. Very strong, thick, explosive, great balance. And, obviously, Jonathan Stewart was the No. 1 back in the country a couple years ago. He's 235 pounds. He's a load, a 4.4. guy. Tremendous, tremendous backfield.


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