I had a co-worker who was a huge Sooners fan. We worked together from 1998 to 2005, and OU had some really good teams during that time. Stoops went from "Big Game Bob", to getting his A$$ handed to him by Boise State in that same period. My friend used to rant about Brent Venables and how he could scheme to stop any run heavy team, they would get lit up through the air.....and they usually did. I would pull up the Sooners forums to dig up a few things to jab him with and set him off. The negative forum topics always seemed to be about the defense and Brent Venables.
So I have been researching a little bit trying to figure out how he went from having suspect defenses on teams that had record setting offenses, to putting together top 5 defenses since shortly after his arrival at Clemson in 2012. From a recruiting standpoint, those Sooner defenses were loaded with talent from front to back. They may have had higher ranked players than the recent Clemson defenses have had.
Then I came across an article on Venables defenses from 2018. Here is an excerpt that includes the Buckeyes:
In fact, I think the main takeaway from a survey of Venables base defense is how aggressive it tries to be. Unlike a lot of defensive coordinators who try to be a bit more careful in their approach – only having the safeties come down late and to the outside, for example – Venables is much more willing to gamble. But it’s a calculated gamble. By running so much single-high and being highly aggressive run fits from two-high, Venables increases the likelihood that his defense will generate more run stuffs and tackles for loss. The downside is that his defense is more likely to give up big plays in the process, particularly through the air.
The end result is a defense that’s almost tailor-made for the spread-to-run. Offenses such as Auburn and Ohio State – both predicated on the ability to run the ball or throw quick RPOs from spread sets – have great difficulty moving the ball against Venables’ defense. More pass-happy offenses tend to have greater success since the aggressive run fits by the safeties can often leave holes in the back end of Clemson’s coverage. Thus, in many ways, Venables’ scheme is predicated on the pass rush. If his front four is harassing the quarterback early and often, then Clemson’s scheme is incredibly hard to overcome. If they are not, then the opposing offense has a lot of opportunities to generate big plays through the air.
So from my understanding, his defenses were less effective in the pass happy Big 12 and were designed to limit the spread offenses driven by a strong running game....namely Urban Meyers spread offense.
The Buckeyes are still driven by a heavy run game, but I think Day has adjusted the offense enough to allow us to take the top off this defense. If the Clemson D tackles are really having a down year and are undersized I would think the Buckeyes should be able to run and throw deep effectively enough to score some points.
Thought I would share it in case anyone else remembers the days when the Sooners looked like they didn't want to play D under Venables to the success he has had with Clemson. Here is a link to the article: