Below are excerpts from OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables' meeting with the media earlier this week.
On what he remembers most about Torrance Marshall's interception return for a touchdown against A&M in College Station in 2000
Venables: How bad he got chewed on during the week for not defending that play. I remember what he did wrong all week and you were hoping they wouldn't run that play going into the game (laughs).
He took his turn getting it chewed off between Mike (Stoops) and I. But we talked during the game, 'Listen, they're coming to that play. It's coming.' They were setting it up off the run because he was being very aggressive in the run game.
But it didn't happen like it did in practice because he actually defended it (laughs). And then I thought for sure he was going to go out of bounds. It was just an incredible will and show of athletic ability down the sideline. He gets some luck — Rocky Calmus blocked a guy right in the back and clipped him, and they didn't call it. It was right in the back. It was clean.
Sometimes things go your way, sometimes things go against you (smiles).
On the key to A&M's success on third down this year
Venables: Obviously, they're very efficient at what they do. Their execution of what they do is really good.
They have the ability to run the ball on third down, where a lot of teams don't. They like to run option and those types of things. A lot times their conversions are coming on run plays where they catch people (off guard), typically on third down. You think it's a pass, but not with them.
It's third and five and you're thinking is it going to be a run or a pass, because it still could be both. So that's where you've got to be good. They got us last year on a smoke draw plays or their options or things like that. Typically, you get them in third down and they're one dimensional, but they still have balance in what they do and how they can attack you.
On DeMarcus Granger going up against A&M running back Javorski Lane
Venables: That'd be good. I like our guy (laughs).
On if A&M is reading the triple option with their shotgun, two-back option attack
Venables: Oh yeah. They have designed or called (plays) where they're just going to give it, not read it. But that's probably not the norm. He's reading (the option).
The zone option is a read. Most of them are read plays, sometimes they're a give. And then they just add another dimension with the pitch player a lot of times too.
But they're getting back in the I-backs and running the old school Nebraska and just doing that more and more. It's coming full circle.
They do a lot of good things to complement each other in the run-pass, probably better than most people. And as a result, they create a lot of big plays in that regard.
On if Stephen McGee's play off the bench in last year's game surprised him
Venables: Throwing or running? No, he's a good athlete. It didn't surprise me because we had recruited him. I don't know if he surprised our players. It's a little bit like the UAB game where guys are just a little bit undisciplined in the tackling.
You're not respecting the process in which you defend the option, it's always inside-out. If you start trying to guess about what's next — if you're responsible for the dive, take the dive. If the dive player tries to read it instead of playing his responsibility and trust his key, then everything breaks down inside-out. If you don't eliminate him inside-out, nothing else works.
On McGee coming into the game last year and playing well
Venables: Most of the time you would welcome the backup (QB). Last year, that's kinda what lit their fire. I think, now that you look back at it, it was indicative of the style of player and the capability that he has as a player and a leader.
He (McGee) went down to Texas the next week and about beat them. He ran up and down the field on their defense and has shown the ability to be an awfully good player this year. I don't know what they're ranked statistically compared to everybody, but he is a quality player.
He's completing 65 percent of his balls — one interception, only taken 10 sacks. The balance that they have — 422 yards a game — throwing it for 215 and running it for about 215 give or take.
He's an awfully, awfully good player. For a young quarterback, he's really maturing fast.
Venables breaks down A&M's offense
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