The Award-Winning Magazine Offering The Most Complete Coverage of Sooner Sports
  HOME FEATURE STORY SUBSCRIBE OU SPORTS IN THE NEWS COVER ARCHIVE WRITERS CONTACT US      ADVERTISE
More Recent Stories

Marquise Brown Q&A

Road Warrior

The Greatest Rivalry

Road Warrior

Hard Work

Road Warrior

To The Point

King's Corner

The Draft

To The Point

NFL Bound

Looking Back: Billy Vessels

Road Warrior

King's Corner

NFL Spotlight

Boomer Bio

Lincoln Riley Q&A

Keys To Success

End of an Era

Stepping Down

Dominating Force

2017 Recruiting

OU finished off a memorable 2016 season on high note

Road Warrior

Emmanuel Beal Q&A

Fast & Furious

Road Warrior

OU vs. Texas: By The Numbers

King's Corner

Steven Parker Q&A

Orlando Brown Q&A

Speed Burner

King's Corner

Next Step

Welcome Home

QB Questions?

Common Cause

Right on Target

Flying High at No. 1

Headed North

Playoff Bound

Dominique Alexander Q&A

California Connection

Red River Rejuvenation

To The Point

Ty Darlington Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Sooner Flashback: Jakie Sandefer

Next Generation

Hiring Time

Sooners hire new offensive coordinator

Samaje Perine Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Mike Stoops Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

All in the Family

Road Warrior

On Point

King's Corner

Sugar Bowl Review

Editorial

OU to meet Alabama in Sugar Bowl

Josh Heupel Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio

The Closer

Sooner Success

Mike Stoops Q&A

Bill Bedenbaugh Q&A

Spring Football Review

Spring Football Review

To The Point

Boomer Bio: Julian Wilson

Boomer Bio: Chuka Ndulue

Boomer Bio: Bronson Irwin

Jalen Saunders Q&A

Patience Rewarded

Boomer Bio: Sterling Shepard

Taylor-made for Oklahoma

Tony Jefferson Q&A

Attention Getter

A Change of Plans

A Change of Plans

Proud Heritage

Hot Commodity

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio: Aaron Ripkowski

Cornerstone

Playmaker

Playmaker

Strictly Striker

Javon Harris Q&A

Boomer Bio: Austin Haywood

Locked In & Loaded

Ben Habern Q&A

Landry Jones Q&A

The Classics

Top Ten Recruits

Bonus Prospects

Oklahoma Influences

Tight End Tough

Marquis On The Mark

Sooner Stars Set To Return

Jeremy Beal Q&A

Jamell Fleming Q&A

Boomer Bio: Trey Millard

Stacy McGee Q&A

Red River Tradition

Red River Tradition

James Patton Q&A

Boomer Bio: Eric Mensik

Quarterback Race

Quarterback Race

Boomer Bio: Kenny Stills

Boomer Bio: Marshall Musil

Getting His Kicks

Making The Right Moves In Recruiting

Bradford looks sharp in workout

No Doubt About It

Boomer Bio: Willie Martinez

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Norman Bound

Showdown In The Sun

Jay Norvell Q&A

Jay Norvell Q&A

Boomer Bio: Dejuan Miller

Adrian Taylor doing just fine

Joseph Ibiloye Q&A

The Real Deal

Road Warrior

Meet Dusty Dvoracek This Saturday!

Casey Walker Q&A

Best of The Red River Rivalry

Bradford To Start Against Baylor

Facebook & Football

Tackling Machine

Keith Jackson Appearing this Friday in Norman

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio: Stephen Good

Top Targets

Brent Venables Q&A

Boomer Bio: Cory Brandon

Tisdale and Griffin

Wayman Tisdale Dies

Sam Bradford Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Blake Griffin earns Naismith Award

Ryan Reynolds Q&A

The Wait Is Over

Outlook for 2009

Outlook for 2009

Staying Put

Bradford, Gresham, Williams Coming Back

Make Room For Sam

Lendy Holmes Q&A

Bradford Wins Heisman

Heisman Material

Boomer Bio: Frank Alexander

Sooners Headed To KC For Big 12 Title Game

Sudden Impact

Sudden Impact

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Offensive linemen Roundtable

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Travis Lewis Q&A

Travis Lewis Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Jackie Shipp Q&A

Bob Stoops Q&A

Boomer Bio

They’ve Got It Covered

Bradford Talks About Sooner Experience

Big Dreams

Plenty Of Things To Chew on this Offseason

Marcus Walker Q&A

Looking Ahead

Greater Expectations

Manny Being Manny

The Big Easy

Super Sidekick

English Lesson

Revved Up & Remodeled

Firmly Committed

A Cut Above

The Definition of Rivalry

On The Rise

Irresistible Force

Bookends

Bradford Named Starting QB

Venables Verbatim

Sooner Spectator & Rivals.com Teaming Up

Final Chapter

Catching Up With Sumlin

Welcome Back Little Joe

Wilson’s Defensive Wisdom

Reggie Smith Q&A

Malcolm Over The Middle

Fantastic Five

Thompson & Alexander To Sign Autographs

WE'RE BACK!!!!

GET READY FOR THE RETURN OF SOONER SPECTATOR!

OU’s Greatest

Boomer Bio: Brody Eldridge

Boomer Bio: Fred Strong

Dual Threat: Stephen Garcia

Thirty Reasons Why OU will beat Texas

Double Duty

Kody Cooke: A Conversation

Boomer Bio: Lendy Holmes

Welcome Back

Quick Five With Nic Harris

Road Warrior

The Opposition

Defensive Backing

Recruiting: Crimson Bloodline

Wilson Weighs In

Replacing Runnels?

Defensive Outlook

Top Shelf: Austin Box

Rufus Revelations

Reaction to Capel Hiring

A.D. Unscripted

OU will miss Sampson

OU Scrimmage Report

Joey Halzle Q&A

Gray, OU prep for The Dance

Moore is Better

Sooners eye stretch run

Haskell remains a lost treasure

Boomer Bio: Patty Gasso

Sherri Coale Conversation

Taylor Made

Future Considerations

McCoy becomes a Sooner

Michael Neal Q&A

Recruiting: Dominique Franks Q&A

Strong Willed

Football Recruiting Notes

Remembering Billy Ball

Enough Gloom & Doom

Back In Business

Endowed Scholarships Announced

USC or Texas: The Lesser of Two Evils?

Stoops is not leaving OU

Sooners down Ducks in Holiday Bowl

Biding His Time

Kelvin Sampson Q&A

Next Stop Division I

Boomer Bio: Allen Patrick

Chris Messner Q&A

Bob Stoops' take on Bedlam Victory

Terrance Anderson's Journey

OU vs. Tech: The Answers

OU vs. Tech Matchups

Road Warrior

Stoops talks about OU's 36-30 win

OU vs. A&M matchups

OU Coaches’ Roundtable

Recruiting: Derek Burton

Boomer Bio: Juaquin Iglesias

Carl Pendleton Q&A

Sooners topple Huskers in Lincoln

OU-Nebraska Matchups

Recruiting: Ugo Chinasa

Sooners top Baylor

OU vs. Baylor Matchups

Recruiting: Offensive Line

Recruiting: Adron Tennell

Sooners top Jayhawks

OU vs. Kansas Matchups

Boomer Bio

A Pleasant Conversation

Texas tops Oklahoma

Red River Rivarly Matchups

Dusty Dvoracek: In The Trenches

Sooners Roll Past K-State

OU vs. K-State Matchups

Recruiting: Replenishing The Backfield

Boomer Bio

Sooners give one away

Recruiting Demarco Murray

C.J. Ah You Q&A

The Answers: OU vs. Tulsa

Not Pretty, But Sooners Win

Spectator Sneak Preview

Bob Stoops' take on TCU loss

Texas Christian Sacks Sooners

Moses leads Sooner tight ends

Rufus Alexander Q&A

Thompson gets nod at QB

Birdine Lost For Season

Sampson to Visit Kuwait for Hoops with Troops

Walk-on making noise at WR

Travis Wilson Q&A

Clint Ingram Q&A

Sooners open fall practice

Brent Venables Q&A

Sooner single-game tickets go on sale Monday

Questions about Sooners' aura not surprising

Joseph talks about summer workouts

OU at Big 12 Media Days

Kim Named to U.S. Walker Cup Team

Sooners name Golloway

Stephenson decides to stay at Wichita State

Stephenson takes OU head baseball job

Soon to be Sooners

New Sooner Nic Harris excited about new digs

2005 Season Preview Issue Available Now!!

Letter from the Editor

Q and A

Ever Elusive

Sooner Selections

Ole Miss powers past Sooners

OU's Weekly Sports Report

OU inks JUCO point guard

OU's Kim wins Big 12 Golf Title

White and Vermeil talk about first day of rookie camp

White gets a chance with Kansas City

Red Rallies to Down White

Big crowd expected

Prelude To Greatness?

Breaking Down The Offense

Spring football eases pain




On Sale Now At Newsstands!
Brent Venables Q&A
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables Talks About 2009 Sooners

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables has seen a little bit of everything during his 10 seasons as assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma. But last season probably left him a bit dizzy, as the Sooners squared off against 11 of the nation’s top 50 scoring offenses.

Basically every Saturday was a major challenge for Venables and the Sooner defense. They hardly had time to catch their collective breath while facing a gauntlet that included the likes of Cincinnati, Texas, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Texas Tech, Kansas, Texas Christian and Florida.

Things don’t figure to get much easier in 2009, but the Sooners should be ready with 10 full or part-time starters back on defense and with hopes of avoiding the injury bug that has taken its toll over the last two seasons.

Sooner Spectator caught up with Venables a few days after he came off the recruiting trail this summer and talked to him about the upcoming season and the promise of the OU defense.

Sooner Spectator: First of all, are you happy with the offseason, the way spring football went and the overall evaluation period?

Brent Venables: As a staff, I think we feel great about the way we’ve progressed. We addressed some areas where we felt some improvements needed to be made by certain players in areas that may have been perceived as weaknesses, and we got the chance to look at some guys who are going to have the chance to step up and show what they can do this season. I really felt we accomplished most of the things we set out to do going into the spring, even though we were missing some (injured) guys we obviously would have liked to have had out there.

SS: What have been some of the bright spots from the spring and the offseason?

Venables: One thing, we established we’ve got four safeties who can step in and play for us. We really felt good about Quinton Carter and Sam Proctor, and the consistency they played with throughout the spring. Desmond Jackson is another young guy who looked good, along with Emmanuel Jones who showed he may have a chance to be in the mix as well. We’re awfully thin at that position where experience is concerned, and going into the spring that was probably the overall biggest area of concern. But we have some talent there.

On top of that, developing the depth at linebacker has been a key. I thought we had great competition throughout the spring at that position, as well, which really enhanced our ability to do that. Austin Box and Ryan Reynolds are a big part of our group going into this season, but they were absent from spring and that really provided an opportunity for some guys who have not played a whole lot or even played at all to get in the mix.

SS: How much did it help to have the three incoming freshman linebackers — Ronnell Lewis, Jaydan Bird and Tom Wort — in camp to help fill in some of the gaps?

Venables: No question, them being here will be beneficial to their early development as we head into next season. Obviously, they were in the process of making that initial transition from leaving home to going to college, but between offseason conditioning, learning the new language, getting some reps and earning the trust of their teammates -— that time allowed them to accomplish a lot of things that are so important. We’re pleased with where all three of those guys and where they’re at, and really with how they’ve competed since day one. We feel all three of them have bright futures in some capacity with what we’re doing.

SS: When you have key guys missing in the spring like Austin Box, Ryan Reynolds, Auston English and DeMarcus Granger, can you get a good sense of the chemistry you have on defense?

Venables: Of course, you’d love to have all of those guys out there competing every step of the way because all four of them will play a big part in what we are doing this fall. But that being said, you get a chance to look at and evaluate a lot of other guys who maybe wouldn’t get the same opportunity in a different situation. Fortunately, we’ve got a good sense of what we have chemistry-wise. The core of our defense has been together for a while, and they know each other well and like each other and know how to push each other’s buttons.

SS: How important is the summer program to the overall success of the team as it heads into a new season?

Venables: I believe it creates a situation where the players come back in terrific shape with great attitudes, having attacked the weaknesses and made the gains in the areas they needed to. It helps them become consistent on how they go after it every single day. We’re not really able to really quantify it outside of where are you at when you come back in the fall, both mentally and physically. I think it takes a certain amount of maturity for them to realize how important the offseason program is, and then to go out and take advantage of every opportunity they have throughout the course of the summer. As much as anything, we can kind of determine what kind of commitment they had based on where they’re at.

SS: With all the talent and experience on the defensive front, how special can that bunch be?

Venables: Well, it definitely has a chance to be a great strength for us this season, especially with the experience we have coming back. We still need to do a better job overall of containing the quarterback and maximizing our opportunities. They were very disruptive last season and I think we were in the top 5 in tackles for losses and sacks, and they were a big part of that. But we need to be better from a consistency standpoint. I think we counted up where we missed 28 opportunities where we had at least one or two hands on the quarterback and gave us opportunities for sacks. And that was most evident in the games where teams had us on our heals — whether it was Texas or Florida or Oklahoma State, and the first half against Kansas State — their quarterbacks were able to run around with too much consistency.

That’s the biggest challenge for our front four — to come back and be better and more consistent against some really good quarterbacks. One of our main areas of emphasis this spring and this coming fall is making sure we take better advantage of our opportunities when we get good pressure on the quarterback. We’ve got to be able to take advantage of our athleticism and counter some of these mobile quarterbacks — just do a better overall job of containing them.

SS: What do you like about those guys?

Venables: I saw Frank (Alexander) really improve his fundamentals and technique during the spring. He was young last year, but he makes a lot of good things happen. The key for him is being able to line up for 50-60 snaps and play winning football. We obviously have to keep Auston English healthy because we’ve seen what he can do when he’s at the top of this game. He proved two years ago that he can be a premier playmaker, but he’s had some setbacks with injuries and we’re looking for him to be at 100 percent this fall.

We really felt that Jeremy Beal probably, along with Gerald (McCoy), had the best spring out of those guys. Jeremy really continues to get better and better, and more polished. We expect big things from him.

(Editor's Note: This is a portion of an interview that appears in the 2009 Football Preview edition of Sooner Spectator. To read more, subscribe today by calling toll free 1-877-841-8877)