Brent Venables is certainly rushing through a list of “firsts” in his inaugural season as Oklahoma’s head coach.
Last week was his first crisis in Cale Gundy. Then came his first major injury in linebacker T.D. Roof.
Venables also recently experienced his first bad practice. He didn’t like that one much, either.
“There’s one day that we really identified that that’s not the standard,” Venables said Tuesday in Norman after practice. “Didn’t feel like coaches or players came ready to practice — and we can’t have those days.
“But we did, and I’ve really felt like we took accountability and responded and came back and have had two excellent days over the last couple of days. Emotion. Energy. Attention to detail. Physicality.”
Saturday, the Sooners held a major scrimmage. Venables said he thinks “we’re on time” as far as adhering to the team’s progress according to the schedule he laid out.
“Certainly not ready to play,” Venables said. “But our guys, there was good and bad both ways, give and take.
“Offense had some success. I liked how our backs ran the ball, how they caught it out in space. Quarterbacks ran the system. Played within the system. Did a really nice job of making good decisions with the football. Made some competitive, tough plays at wideout and tight end.
“Defensively, thought we played with good effort. For the most part, structurally we’re in good position. Again, we had some excellent plays, got some big hits and some big stops.”
But that bad practice — although the team has responded well in their opportunities since — doesn’t sit well with Venables.
“Guys understand you have to practice hard to play hard, and you’ve got to practice physical to play physical,” he said. “You’ve got to be in a lot of competitive situations in order for you to feel comfortable on game day. So we’re trying to paint all the situations.
“And then over the next several days, it’s going to be critical that we continue to expose our guys to those situations.”
Venables said the practices would get harder as the team transitions training camp from the practice fields adjacent to the Barry Switzer Center to the larger, more spacious rugby fields across from Lloyd Noble Center.
Venables said last week the coming 10 days would be the most demanding of the season. They have been, and that explains the poor practice.
Explains it. But doesn’t justify it. So the Sooners got a lot done in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“We’ve got to be stronger, better, more tough and physical,” he said. “We had a few guys that were out on both sides of the ball, but I thought that the guys that stepped in did a nice job and got a gazillion things that we’re working to get better at in every way from pad level to forced angles to the ball to pre-snap awareness by the offensive line to post-snap penalties, how to control emotions.”