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Three Things Oklahoma Coach Brent Venables Said Ahead of the Sooners’ Game against Oklahoma State

On Bedlam, Spencer Sanders and an in-state disparity.



[Jackson Lavarnway/PFB]

This wasn’t the Bedlam that the state of Oklahoma thought it would get back in August, but with as crazy as Bedlam always seems to be, these teams combined record of 12-8 probably won’t mean much.

This will be the first time Oklahoma coach Brent Venables takes part in the rivalry as a head coach. He met with reporters in Norman on Tuesday to discuss the game. Here are three things that stood out.

1. Not His First Bedlam

This will be the first time Venables roams the Sooners’ sideline as the head honcho in Bedlam, but it isn’t his first rodeo with the rivalry.

As an assistant at OU from 1999 to 2011, Venables had a 10-3 record in the game. His losses came in 2001, 2002 and 2011.

“It was like the Super Bowl for us, is what I remember,” said Venables of his first Bedlam, a 44-7 win in 1999. “… I remember winning. Can’t remember the score. I’m usually pretty good with scores. But I remember [OU offensive lineman] Stockar (McDougle) scoring on a jumbo package, and I remember it was Coach (Bob) Simmons and I remember Tony Lindsay.”

2. ‘Sometimes the Worst Thing You Can Do Is Cover Everybody’

Spencer Sanders let his intentions of starting Saturday’s game known after his bullpen performance Saturday, news that probably isn’t ideal for a reeling Sooner squad.

Against OU last season, Sanders threw for 219 yards, ran for 93 and had a pair of touchdowns.

Despite playing just the better part of a quarter last weekend, Sanders leads the Big 12 in total offensive yards per game at 290 yards. And even though he missed part of the Kansas State game, the entire Kansas game and, again, played minimally against Iowa State, Sanders’ 2,610 yards of total offense ranks third in the Big 12 behind only Max Duggan (2,772) and Hunter Dekkers (2,688).

“Spencer Sanders, I think he started 52ish or so games in high school as a quarterback, and then this is his 41st start, I think, in college,” Venables said. “Who has 90 some starts as a quarterback? Incredibly experienced. He’s a winner. He’s instinctive. He’s fast. He’s explosive. Got a quick release. He’s got a lot of moxie. You can tell he’s played a lot of football. The team rallies behind him, plays off of his leadership and his energy. Sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everybody because he can really run. He’s a true dual-threat guy.”

3. The In-State Disparity

As Oklahoma’s brand has gone more national, as has the Sooners’ recruiting.

Venables made note of the fact that Oklahoma State has more kids from the state of Oklahoma. The Cowboys have built a successful program on the backs of kids who starred in Oklahoma high school football but didn’t receive a chance to play at the University of Oklahoma.

There are 60 Oklahomans on OSU’s roster, including walk-ons. OU has 21 Oklahomans.

The Sooners do have a pair of Okies committed in the 2023 class in Mustang’s Jacobe Johnson and McAlester’s Erik McCarty. The Cowboys also have two Oklahomans committed in Del City’s Jaedon Foreman and Stillwater’s JaKobe Sanders.

“They’ve got more Oklahoma guys on their roster than we do — by a long ways,” Venables said. “That’s something that I recognized when I first got the job 11 and a half months ago. And they played for the Big 12 Championship and beat us a year ago with a roster that looks like that. That’s a credit to them to finding guys and developing them.”

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