Sports

Venables seems to take Oklahoma program ‘from good to great’


NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — New Oklahoma coach Brent Venables respects what the Sooners have completed in recent times, however he believes they are often even higher.

Lincoln Riley compiled a 55-10 file in 5 seasons earlier than leaving to turn out to be head coach at Southern California. Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray received Heisman trophies earlier than turning into No. 1 general picks within the NFL draft.

But Riley’s groups misplaced thrice within the College Football Playoff semifinals and by no means received a nationwide title. Venables has used spring apply to put the inspiration for a program he believes can break by means of.

“We’re trying to take this program from good to great,” he mentioned. “That’s a big step. It takes a lot of intention and a lot of purpose to get that.”

Venables freely shares nuggets of knowledge that present how he plans to get there. Take the best way he encourages gamers to embrace challenges: “I tell the players you have to grow an intimate relationship with failure to be your best,” he mentioned. “You can’t just love it when it’s good and it’s easy and it’s comfortable. That’s not where the real growth happens. You’ve got to love all of it.”

Then, there’s the instance he supplied whereas explaining how considered one of his extra animated gamers may tweak his management expertise: “I said, ‘Man, instead of calling him out, call him up,’” Venables mentioned. “Call a man up. Try that and see if you get better results.’”

Venables has a lot to point out for his method — he’s been on workers for groups which have received three nationwide titles and appeared in eight nationwide championship video games. Now, the previous Clemson defensive coordinator is sustaining it as he steps ahead in his first head teaching gig.

Longtime Sooners followers keep in mind Venables’ enthusiasm from his earlier run at Oklahoma, when he helped this system win the 2000 nationwide title. He was on the workers beneath Bob Stoops as co-defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003 and was defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2011.

He’s nonetheless bought that fireplace. He walks round apply with a microphone and generally participates in exercises. He’s everywhere in the particulars — on offense, too.

“It’s just unique,” quarterback Dillon Gabriel mentioned. “He demands a lot, but man, he loves us even harder. So whenever you have that, you can demand a lot from all the guys.”

Todd Bates, an Oklahoma defensive assistant who adopted Venables from Clemson, mentioned the depth by no means wanes.

“He’s never going to ask you to do something he’s not going to do,” Bates mentioned. “I saw that for five years at Clemson. Having the ability to be on his side of the ball and go through practice with him and see how intense that is — it’s like life or death on every play to him.”

Venables mentioned Oklahoma is heading in the right direction after a powerful spring apply.

“It’s just a little bit more,” he mentioned. “We talk about 212 degrees. When the boiling water happens, that’s how you move a locomotive. At 211, that thing is sitting totally still. You won’t go anywhere. It needs just one more degree, a little more care. Work a little more, love a little more, react a little more — just a little bit more. That makes a difference. If everybody has that mindset, we’ll all get where we want to go.”

He believes all of it begins with the instance he units. That filters into all the things, together with the varieties of gamers he recruits.

“I can promise you, I’m going to be the first in line to do and not be a taker,” he mentioned. “I’m looking for doers. So that’s what that is. I want to sell that to recruits and their families and our own players and their families. They notice that. They are human. They pay attention. And passion comes from love.”

From there, Venables hopes the gamers do the work to show their potential into manufacturing.

“We talk about it all the time — doing the hard, dirty work in the dark,” Venables mentioned. “When the stands are empty, that’s when we can separate from our opponent. There has to be real commitment, and guys have to love getting dirty. I’m hopeful that that’ll take place.”

In return for all that effort, Venables needs the crowds in Norman to share his ardour. Although Oklahoma’s fan base is loyal, he believes Memorial Stadium could possibly be louder and supply a greater homefield benefit.

“There’s a reason we’ve won so much here at home — one of the best home records in college football over the last 20 years,” he mentioned. “The crowd has been a big part of that. But we’re trying to take it to another level.”

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

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