The biggest topic of Brent Venables’ The first off-season at Norman changed the team’s mindset and culture. Through the first three games it looks like the preparation is paying off.
As a team, Oklahoma is 3-0 after an impressive 49-14 win on the road over Nebraska. The Sooners have been playing free football and the defense appears way ahead of schedule. In three games in 2022, Oklahoma has conceded just 30 total points. In 2021, the Sooners gave up 35 points to Tulane in the season opener.
Because the initial production level is so high, both players and coaches are beginning to see results. It’s certainly a long way to go, but the benefits of being prepared seem obvious early on. No matter who’s been on the field for the Sooners, the intensity and attention to detail hasn’t waned, whether it’s clean-ups or first plays.
“The expectation is that we play by a standard here, we don’t play by a scoreboard,” ted roof said at Oklahoma’s media availability on Monday. “We don’t want the guys to be looking at the scoreboard, we want the guys to be thinking about what to do, how to do it and how to do it.”
On-pitch production is obviously the most important piece of the puzzle, but off-pitch chemistry and advancement easily contributed to some of the success. When the squad in the dressing room, coach and team are aligned, there is more success on the field.
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The players didn’t hesitate to mention that this team is much closer than teams of the past. The togetherness was tested in Oklahoma’s first away game of the season, and the Sooners kept responding.
“I was just as proud of the older guys when the younger guys came in,” Roof said. “They stood behind the benches and went through the corrections and all the adjustments with them. Stay fully engaged. That’s the culture here, shaped by Coach Venables.”
When team leaders go through fixes with young players coming off the field late in the game, the culture speaks. The way the veterans on this team look after the development of younger players is special and unique to the Venables era. It seems like every player cares less about personal stats and more about the overall progress of the team.
On the defensive side of the ball, stats and results may not mean quite as much. But on a high-profile offense, spreading the ball and feeding every playmaker can definitely be a problem. Under Venables, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“I think having a bunch of different guys touching the football makes it a lot harder for the guys across the line of scrimmage so spread it out and find ways to get the guys involved.” Jeff Lebby said. “This is a big deal for us and where we want to take this thing and what we want to do. …
“We have a great culture in that locker room, right in the building, and it’s all because of Coach V and how he sets the standard and how we work every single day. Selfless play is a big part of who we are and who we will be.”