Everything Brent Venables had to say following Oklahoma’s win over Kent State

The Oklahoma defense carried the Sooners through the first half as the offense struggled to find some consistency. But at the end of the half, the offense ran a near-perfect (false start penalty) two-minute drill leading to Dillon Gabriel’s 36-yard connection with Marvin Mims to give Oklahoma its first score of the game, which also proved to be the game-winner.

The Sooners’ offense would go on to score 33 unanswered points over the next 18 minutes of game time to put the game out of reach for a tough Kent State program that gave Oklahoma all it could handle for the first 29 minutes of the game.

Speaking to the media in the aftermath of Oklahoma’s second-straight 30-point win to start the 2022 season, here’s everything Brent Venables had to say.

Opening statement

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Brent Venables walks with his players in a line before the game against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“All right. Good evening. Good win for us. Got to 2-0, facing good adversity tonight. Really proud of our team, our coaches, and our players told them at halftime nothing less important than the score at halftime. And really prepared for exactly what happened. We talked about it all week. Don’t be surprised, you know, this is a team that won their division and played in the conference championship a year ago, do some things on both sides of the ball that can cause you some problems. And they’ve done a great job building the program the right way. They’ve got an attitude of belief and got enough good players in the right spots to challenge you. The first half, I don’t think we tackled very well at all; that goes without saying. Really sloppy. Lost leverage on the ball entirely too much. And but still responded, you know, I think the game was like that a lot, where we had some things that didn’t go our way on many occasions, but we buckled down and responded within drives to either execute and put the ball in the endzone or on defense found a way to to get off the field and get a stop when we needed to. Got a lot to learn and grow from through this game. I was hopeful for some strain and a challenge, you know. There’s not going to be change and improvement and development without a challenge. And so I’m glad that that happened. I thought that it had a good chance to do that. And same team that, again, as I spoke about earlier in the week, went to Iowa City a year ago and down to College Station and went into late into the third quarter one-score games with both of those schools. So it went in many ways how I thought it would and proud of our guys for, again, coming out the second half and really playing complimentary football. Still, again, there’s, especially on defense, a lot of things that we need to do better from an adjustment and from a fundamental standpoint. But at the end of the day, that’s the fewest points that we’ve allowed against an FBS opponent since 2017. Again, did some great things at three guys with double-digit tackles. First time we’ve done that since 18. 14 tackles for loss again, the most that we’ve had since 2019.

Individual standouts

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive back Billy Bowman (5) reacts after recovering a fumble during the second half against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“Danny Stutsman and Billy Bowman also had, again, career-high games in regards to tackles Billy Bowman’s forced fumble was a huge play. Offense did a great job going right down the field to begin the second half, and then we come back on defense and forced the fumble. Great job. And the offense went right down and punched it in. Really complemented each other in a big-time way. Justin Broiles had a career-high 11 tackles and a tackle for loss. You know to point out from a positive standpoint. Again David Ugwoegbu had his first career safety. Justin Harrington had a pick, given his seven straight games, which we’ve had a pic which is the longest streak and power five programs. And super proud of Marvin Mims, man, and what a display he put on tonight. He’s my player of the game. Again 203 all-purpose yards or whatever he does when he touches that ball, man. It’s electric. So 163 career yards receiving 36-yard touchdown, the 41-yard punt return, longest punt return we’ve had in three years. And again, we’ve since the start of the 99 seasons, our programs had the best winning percentage in all college football power five teams 132 wins, 11 losses. So I don’t take that for granted.”

On the Environment

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners fans react during the game against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“The walk of champions was again wonderful again. Didn’t think it could get any better. And it was, and then I thought our fans were just outstanding. Little cooler temperatures maybe that had something to do with it. I’m not sure now, but really cool game day environment today. The new lighting system was a neat addition. And I know our guys really, you know, fed off the crowd’s energy tonight.”

On the attitude of the team

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Gracen Halton (56) celebrates with teammates after the game against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“So starting with the final drive in the first half, we gave them three fit to two to 156 and really had great gain control from then on out. So think the adversity and, again, the strain that we went through is going to, without question, going to pay off for us and help us grow and improve. And we’re still developing an identity this is we’re one step closer when you know, having played two games, now we’re another game into it, you know, developing that identity. I loved the lack of a sense of panic or frustration that we showed in locker room. It was all business, the end. And again, I just thought we had tremendous Just tremendous poise throughout the course of the game. So proud of our players and coaches.”

On the momentum change at the end of the first half

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Marvin Mims (17) celebrates with Oklahoma Sooners offensive lineman McKade Mettauer (72) after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“Well, obviously, it gave us a shot in the arm. Created the momentum, you know, again, going into half as I said, that last drive, and in the second half, again, we more than doubled, you know, their total yardage and really did a great job again, shut them out, you know, in the second half. And not an easy thing to do. I gave up three points last week in the second half and shut them out this week. So, you know, again, our guys, again, we’ve done plenty of things to let them move the ball and possess the ball, which you don’t like. But again, our guys have had tremendous resolve and toughness when it counted the most.”

On facing adversity

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Jalen Redmond (31) and Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Jordan Kelley (88) tackle Kent State Golden Flashes running back Bryan Bradford (31) during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“No, it’s important, you know, winning is very, very difficult. And, you know, being a great example for our players, you know, showing poise as a staff and you know, and again, challenging the guys to have a maturity about them. You know, again, we’ve said for a long time now the commitment and the buy-in and the leadership on his team is really strong. And I think it showed tonight and again, the calmness, you know, the way they attacked, you know, the halftime and where we needed to make some small, slight adjustments. I love the focus of our guys in the locker room at halftime, and I think it showed, you know, there in the second half.”

On trying to get the ball back for the offense before half

Oklahoma wide receiver Theo Wease (10) avoids a tackle by Kent State defensive back D.J. Miller Jr. (35) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

“Now again, we really needed and wanted to get the ball back and see if we go down a score. And you know, when it gets into that red area, it’s hard to score. So instead of letting them sit on the, you know, on the clock and the ball. We wanted to, you know, get a stop and get the ball back to our offense, and it worked out offense did a, what a great job executing the two-minute drill perfectly and gave us great momentum and confidence if you will, you know going into halftime.”

On the two-minute drill before halftime

Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims (17) catches a touchdown pass in front of Kent State safety JoJo Evans (23) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

“Well, again, you saw where he gets lined up to he’s, you know, on the short side of the field there. And so you see a lot of two-minute teams, they, you know, you’re trying to conserve, you know, time on the clock, you know, you gotta get the ball out. So he just happened to be on that side of the ball. But, you know, get your ball to your best players. But we’ve got a lot of good players. And but what they were doing, they were soft over there. And then they were given that to us. So we took what they were given us, and then they tried finally rolled over the top of him, and he ran by the guy in half-field coverage, and Dillon makes a great throw, and Marvin makes a great play right over the shoulder, and, you know, good competitive play there when it counted the most. And it was, what a great play that was by both of them.”

On the play of the offensive line

Oklahoma’s Eric Gray (0) rushes as Kent State’s Nico Bolden (24) and JoJo Evans (23) chase him in the third quarter during the college football game between the University of Oklahoma and the Kent State Golden Flashes at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept., 10, 2022. Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

“Well, again, I think that we started cleaning up just some fundamental things. And again, first time seeing that scheme, you know, on the year, and certainly hadn’t seen it in camp. So you know, take a little bit of getting adjusted to and what we wanted to use going in versus what we had in our back pocket. And, you know, obviously throwing the ball with a little bit of success opened up some opportunities to run the ball and made it look better. And I think it was a little bit of both. The ability to throw the ball and attacking some of the holes. You have a little more time when they’re, you know, just rushing three and dropping eight. And so I thought we did a good job of locating the football in some of those soft parts of the zone. And then really started opening up the running game, and we added a few small tweaks to what we were doing in the run game. I thought our guys were going to play physical and cleaner. You know, they’re in the last part of the first half and certainly in the second half and got them on their heels and thought they did a great job, you know, making some small adjustments both coaching and playing both.”

On Key Lawrence's absence

Oct 16, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive back Key Lawrence (12) in action during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“He had a slight tweak in his hammy earlier in the week. So we expect to get him back sooner rather than later.”

On Dillon Gabriels' Leadership

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) throws during the second half against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“Ya know, he’s an assassin. It’s not his first rodeo. He’s, he’s been around, you know, the game lines, and he’s just a ball junkie. He’s a great leader. You know, the game comes easy to him in so many ways. But his best attribute is he never gets too high or too low. He’s the same guy. You know, every once in a while, he’ll he’ll have a nice smile when he makes a big-time play. But he’s the same guy every day, like non-stop. So he just was, that’s what we said it has to be who we are, you know, nothing more, nothing less. And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Got to take what’s there. And his leadership is a big part of that, you know, not pointing the finger or getting mad at the play call or getting mad at the O line or getting mad at receivers, you know, pushing the blame. It’s easy, you know, under stress to do something like that. But he’s uh, you know, he’s a great leader got great qualities, and poise is one of his best qualities he has.”

On the importance of role players making big plays

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Drake Stoops (12) scores a touchdown during the second half against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“Yeah, no, it I think it’s huge, you know, for, you know, that lends credibility to all the things that you’re asking them to do playing within the systems on both sides of the ball. And really, in all, all phases, like when Trey West ran down on the punt team, and what a great open-field tackle we had there. Did all the right stuff, you know, all the things that you coach and you teach and executed to perfection. I think in all three phases, there’s countless examples of exactly that. You know, maybe it’s a Harrington interception in Tampa two or, you know, Drake, you know, what a baller, you know, he does that about once every single game at least once, right? Ain’t that, right? And you know, what a fun guy to watch playing, compete. Great example for our guys, because he doesn’t say anything. And he just shows up every day, man, and he just lays it out there every day. And what, uh, he’s an excellent, excellent football player. But it does lend credibility to play within the systems and believing in what we’re asking to do without a doubt.”

On Danny Stutsman's emergence

Oklahoma linebacker Danny Stutsman (28) tackles Kent State running back Bryan Bradford, top, in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

“He’s got great toughness. He loves to play, loves to compete. He holds himself to a high standard. The harder it gets, the tougher he plays. He got tremendous instincts good natural feel. And he’s just, he’s just now. You know, wisdom is the application of knowledge, right? So he’s taken the knowledge that he’s learning. And he’s really applying it to his game. He’s always playing with a lot of confidence right now. He’s like a sponge. He wants to learn more. He’s really hard on himself. So he’s taken whatever mistakes or issues that he’s had, you know, he attacks the weaknesses, and takes all the coaching, and that’s why he’s been able to incrementally, you know, improve, because he takes responsibility, you know, where his shortcomings have been. And so, again, I expect to see him, you know, the needle to keep moving in the right direction for Danny. He’s, you know, everything’s still sitting in front of him.”

On the road trip to face Nebraska

Sept. 18, 2021; Norman; Oklahoma Sooners cornerback D.J. Graham (middle) makes an interception in front of Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Levi Falck (88) during the fourth quarter at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“Well, the fans are first class, you know, you know, every patch of grass in that stadium is gonna be full. You know, there’s, they’re some of the most loyal and intelligent fans in all college football. They’re going to arrive early and stay late, you know, no matter what, they’re gonna, you know, be there for their team. A lot of pride in that community, and that stadium is one of the cleanest stadiums you’ll see anywhere. Like, wherever there’s concrete, you don’t see, you know, there’s nothing, no debris, nothing. That’s always stood out to me. And in, you know, I grew up as a player, you know, in the late 80s and early 90s. And that was one of the best eras in Nebraska football history. And I remember at Kansas State, we would spend every single day working on Nebraska. Every day, every single day. Bob Stoops, Jim Leavitt, Bill Snyder, and that staff they would be working on Nebraska every day. And my senior year we went and played Nebraska in Tokyo, Japan in the Coca-Cola bowl. Road over on the airplane with Nebraska and which was weird. And then they beat up on us pretty good, and we had to ride back with them. But Coach Snyder, he made sure that on the way there, on the way back, we had the side of the plane that the sun wasn’t exposed to and um, so he didn’t want guys to get hot we little bit cooler on the opposite side of the sun. That’s the kind of stuff that he would always think about. And I remember Will Shields I was taking the run-through in an isolation play, I think. Can’t remember the running back but I’m run through the A-gap and Will Shields, y’all know Will Shields? Yeah. Like he was an All-Pro like 50 years. And, but he hits me, and I was probably 210 pounds, big, big, thick 210. And he hits me, and I just helicopter. I mean, I mean, just spun me crazy, really, he knocked me silly, but really in Nebraska, I grew up on Nebraska football, when I say Nebraska, like that was long with Oklahoma. And, you know, a few others, those were the programs that were always on TV. Those are the programs that everybody’s striving to be like, and so, it’s gonna be really exciting, and a great, great challenge for us to go to Lincoln go on the road, you know, tough environment. I’m really excited to see what our team is all about. You know, it’d be a great opportunity for us to continue to grow and develop, you know, as a team.”

On Reggie Grimes

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Jeffery Johnson (77) and Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Reggie Grimes (14) celebrate during the game against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“Another two and a half tackles for loss, another sack and a half has five tackles for loss on the season, four sacks. So he’s off to a great start. And I love to see all the preparation pay off. And you know, that’s what we preach, you know, nonstop that, you know, that’s how you separate through that preparation. And you know, it’s about the work, you know, a lot of people want something for nothing, and what a great example that hard work, you know, that it’s paid off, you know, for Reggie. Really proud of him, and he’s becoming a great, great leader as well. But as I told him, and you know many other guys you know, great things, good things don’t happen for those that wait, man. No, they happen to people that work. Great things happen to people that do the work, not people who are waiting for something good to happen. A lot of guys who stand back, they want success just to happen for them. But he’s been one of many that have put in the work, and that’s what you’re seeing and playing with great confidence and sureness through all the work that he’s put in, you know, in the out of season and in fall camp we had a great fall camp.”

On the status of Wanya Morris


“We feel like this might be the week that he comes back. So we’re hopeful that that’ll happen.”

On how the pass opened up the running game

Sep 10, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Marcus Major (24) scores a touchdown during the second half against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“There were some different ways we’re blocking some stuff up, and then I’m having some success finding the ball, and some of the holes in the zone open some of those opportunities up in the run game as well. I thought I thought 2, 24, and zero all got in there, and Tawee as well played physical and hit some of those runs more downhill and did a great job in the RPO game as well open up some opportunities. A little bit of success that we had both throwing and running really took some stress off of us.”

On the team's work ethic

Kent State head coach Sean Lewis, left, and Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables, right, meet at midfield after their NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

“But you know, I’m really excited because our guys through you know, I said, the strain of the chase. The strain of the doing, the strain of the work, competing. You know, they’re starting to really love that more than the end result itself. And I think that’s a sign of maturation, you know, having again, like, love the doing, love the process, and we have to embrace the chase more than you know, the catch itself. And, and that’s, to me, the small signs that I’m seeing with this team, you know. It gives me a lot of hope of, you know, continued improvement as the season goes along. You know the success is a byproduct of just loving what you’re doing. Keep your head down and just go to work. And there’s, you know, as we begin a new week, and our new opponent, new DNA, you know, that’d be the challenge again. Nothing more common than talented teams that don’t play together. And so that’s going to be a real, real test for this team. The greatest threat to success is like boredom, guys getting bored with the doing. And the common thing is the little things. And so that’s gonna be the challenge our guys don’t get, you gotta respect this game and all it takes to be successful. And that’s really the message, you know, all great things, they all come from a grind. They don’t just come from doing nothing. There’s gotta be an investment. You know, all good things will come from a grind. And so that’s the grind of the season. And really, you know, I’m proud of our guys for putting in the work, and hopefully, we’ll continue to do that, you know, that, that identity this team is going to be determined through the work that they continue to put in or not so anxious to see that but proud of our guys.”

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