How does Oklahoma respond to its first loss? How does Brent Venables bounce back from his first career defeat?
That’s the topic of the day in Norman, and it’s hard to imagine the Sooners drop two in a row — Lincoln Riley did it in 2020, and it hadn’t happened before that since 1999; they’ve won 43 of their last 44 after a loss — and especially the week before Texas.
The oddity of 2020 notwithstanding, the Sooners — who play Texas next week in Dallas — are 18-3 the week prior to the Red River Rivalry since 2000. Two of those losses were by Riley-coached teams.
OU is 10-1 against TCU in Big 12 play, including 4-1 in Fort Worth, and has eight straight wins over the Frogs.
Those are the numbers. What about the people?
This is Venables’ first experience as a head coach coming off a defeat. Does he make wholesale changes? Does he overcorrect? What will his reaction be?
“I don't honestly feel any different than I have before,” he said. “I’ve always beared the responsibility of failure and losing. It's no different. … You take it personally. There are emotions involved, frustration, anger, all of those things. But also, trust in how you do what you do. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes you're on the right side of it and sometimes you're not. It certainly doesn't take much to be on the wrong side of it. You have to have perspective and composure and leadership skills. It's no different for me whatsoever.”
The players, of course, will feed off Venables’ example. They will follow his lead.
“The sting of the loss,” said defensive coordinator Ted Roof, “we have to go back and look at the whys and learn from them. I know this about our players: they are going to respond the right way. Because obviously they’re not pleased. It’s embarrassing. It’s disappointing. We have to do a better job. We have to have a sense of urgency to go back to work next week and get these issues fixed and play against a very good offense.”