NORMAN — After Saturday’s 49-0 loss to Texas, OU coach Brent Venables said his team looked tired.
At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Venables clarified what he meant, saying being exhausted was about what happened this season, not an accumulation of everything. they had been through in the last 10 months.
“The season is always difficult, mentally and physically, whether you win or lose,” said Venables. “As the season progresses the air gets thinner, not easier whether you succeed or not.”
The Sooners (3-3, 0-3 Big 12) lost three straight games for the first time since 1998, the year before Bob Stoops and Venables arrived in Norman.
“There are a lot of people watching all of us right now and seeing how we’re going to react in the future,” Venables said. “There are a lot of people (outside) throwing in the towel, and that’s okay. … The criticism that’s come in is well deserved, from my point of view. That’s not to say the guys aren’t working not .”
Venables said he made changes to the Sooners’ practice schedule this week to try to keep the players fresher.
“That’s the week we start to polish our schedule,” Venables said. “Maybe it’s a week or more too late, I don’t know.”
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What is the status of quarterback OU Dillon Gabriel for the Kansas game?
On Monday night, Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel said he remains on concussion protocol but hopes to be able to return this week.
On Tuesday, Venables wouldn’t go into detail, but echoed Gabriel’s comments.
“I don’t get into deep weeds,” Venables said. “He is fully in training.”
Without a hitch, Gabriel is expected to play Saturday vs. Kansas (11 a.m., ESPN2).
Venables said he expected to find out Thursday if Gabriel could play.
Without Gabriel against the Longhorns, backup Davis Beville struggled, and the Sooners largely used a wildcat offense with running backs Marcus Major and Eric Gray or wide receiver Jalil Farooq behind center.
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Brent Venables on OU defense, Kansas Jayhawks
Venables on the Sooners’ defensive issues:
“I know we’re not playing fundamentally well,” Venables said. “We are not attacking well.”
➤ Venables has confirmed linebacker Shane Whitter will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.
Whitter, the backup linebacker on the weak side of starter Danny Stutsman, played four games with eight tackles.
➤ Venables on Kansas, who come into Saturday’s game 5-1, more wins than they’ve had in any full season since 1999: “A terrific Kansas team playing with tremendous confidence. … Coach (Lance) Leipold has done a wonderful job.”
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Brent Venables on Fixing Sooners Problems
Venables said he was ready to make changes when he felt they were needed, but largely stayed the course even in difficult times.
“You use maybe 10 years of experience. Over a decade of excellence consistently. The most important thing is to develop the fundamentals, the understanding of the techniques… Trust their eyes, trust the responsibility. “
He said the Sooners needed to use more players, especially defensively.
➤ Venables said he hasn’t received many outside suggestions for solving the OU’s problems.
“Other than my wife,” Venables said. “I didn’t have many suggestions.”
But Venables said a fan got hold of Venables’ phone number.
“He made a suggestion,” Venables said. “But he didn’t respond after I held out my hand to him.”
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➤ Venables said he wasn’t going to criticize his team’s quarterback play, but didn’t push him away much.
He was asked why other programs were able to develop quarterback depth when his team had not, and whether that was a function of the changing nature of college play with the transfer portal, as well as the uniqueness of the quarterback position.
“I don’t think it has to be that way. I think we understand why things happened here in that regard. I don’t write the stories. I don’t point fingers,” Venables said. “I don’t think it has to be like that. I’ve seen a lot of other guys who have multiple good quarterbacks. Kansas is one of them. How do they do it? Maybe I have to ask Coach Leipold that.”
The Sooners lost Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler in the offseason, after losing Tanner Mordecai and Chandler Morris the previous offseason.
Venables said he thinks OU will be able to develop better quarterback depth down the line, even though quarterbacks often leave if they don’t win starting jobs.
“They want opportunities, I have them too,” Venables said. “I want the guys to love us so much and feel a sense of loyalty that making a decision like this is incredibly difficult.”
In January, the Sooners were in the running for the transfer of USC quarterback Jaxson Dart, who eventually ended up at Ole Miss. OU finally added Davis Beville, a transfer from Pitt who started last week’s game. Dart helped lead the Rebels to a 6-0 start.
“Once we got Dillon, we didn’t get the kind of reception, maybe because of his success where he was,” Venables said.
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➤ Venables on the offensive line has been playing lately:
“They played pretty well,” Venables said. “They’ve been playing pretty well. … It’s been a bunch, the last few weeks – probably three weeks – our guys have been doing a good job.”
Venables recounted a conversation he had with Sooners offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh on Sunday.
“I think they can be great,” Bedenbaugh told Venables. “But they’re good right now.”
➤ Perhaps the liveliest Venables were on defense of redshirt senior defensive back Justin Broiles on Tuesday.
Broiles has started each of the past five games and has 20 career starts, but has become something of a symbol of OU’s defensive struggles over the past two seasons among a vocal group of fans on social media.
“I don’t know why he’s a lightning rod…I don’t know what’s behind it. It’s a bit disturbing but it is what it is,” Venables said. “Justin is great. … He has a professional attitude, a blue collar work ethic. He takes every moment, if something goes wrong, he takes it on his shoulder.
“He just cares. He cares as much as any player I’ve ever been around. … You said lightning rod. I think I know what that means, but it’s weird, especially when you’re talking about a guy who could have gone anywhere in the country and he chose to come here.”
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