FORT WORTH, TX — To his credit, Oklahoma coach Brent Venables isn’t trying to paint over a garbage pile.
The question is painfully direct: How disappointed is Venables that TCU was by far the more physical team in Saturday’s 55-24 beatdown of the Sooners?
“Yeah, I mean, I don't know what that level is,” Venables said after the game. “You can't be more or less disappointed, you know?”
After back-to-back games of being beaten up and pushed around — OU last 41-34 to Kansas State just seven days ago — how close are the Sooners to reaching that level of physicality?
“I don't know,” Venables said with an almost incredulous laugh. “I mean not very.”
When he was the OU head coach, Lincoln Riley agitated the fan base by trying to depict OU as close — in a number of realms.
Venables isn’t going down that path.
“The physicality, it's not always just physical,” Venables said. “But sometimes you've gotta be able to strain through the top of a route being physical. Or again, you've got to whoop a block and get off a block and make a play, too. So there's physicality with that.
“And some of it's just some execution issues as well. We've got to help our guys execute better. Period. We've gotta get them to fit things. If there's nobody in the gap, they're gonna find it. There's a hole in the fence, people are gonna find it. Just incredibly inconsistent, you know, with how we're playing these last two weeks.”
TCU receivers found gaping holes in the Oklahoma secondary. Those are mostly assignment busts. The Horned Frogs also made Sooner tacklers miss. That’s technique.
But when the TCU offensive line simply lined up and pushed the Sooner front out of the way over and over, that’s being out-physicaled.
The same thing happened on offense, where TCU’s defensive front simply moved the line of scrimmage into the Sooner backfield, sacking OU quarterbacks, dropping the running backs for loss and disrupting whatever Jeff Lebby tried to do.
“They’re a pretty physical football team. Nothing crazy,” said receiver Marvin Mims. “Nothing like we haven’t experienced before. They went out there and played their hearts out today, and it definitely showed.”
Was the Oklahoma offense prepared for that level of punishing, bruising play?
“I mean, I’d say we were prepared for it,” Mims said. “That’s probably what Coach Venables harps on the most coming from spring and fall camp, is physicality. Especially up front, second level, receivers and stuff like that, getting on blocks and stuff like that. That’s stuff he harps on a lot. I think we were prepared for it.”
Similarly, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said the defense should not have been caught off guard either last week or this week by how good their purple-clad opponents played.
“It was all over the tape,” Roof said. “So I don't think we were caught off guard. No.”
After a month of training camp and a month of the season, is that something that can be fixed before taking on Texas next week in Dallas.
“That's a process to become more physical,” Roof said. “We emphasize it each and every week. Each and every day that we have pads on. It's something we just got to keep working to. Like I said, it's not one thing. It's a combination of things. Go back to work ... that's all I know how to do is go back to work. And fix it. It's not enough to try hard. We got to get it fixed.”