Oklahoma football opens spring practice with aim, purpose pointed fully forward

Head coach Brent Venables works with players during the University of Oklahoma's Spring football practice in Norman, Okla. on Thursday, March 24, 2022.Ou Spring Fb Practice
Head coach Brent Venables works with players during the University of Oklahoma's Spring football practice in Norman, Okla. on Thursday, March 24, 2022.Ou Spring Fb Practice /

It’s a new look and a new positive vibe as the Brent Venables edition of Oklahoma football begins its second week of spring practice ahead of another college football season.

The Oklahoma spring roster includes many of the same players who were part of Lincoln Riley’s 2021 team that finished 11-3. But with a new head coach, two new coordinators, 10 additions from the transfer portal and a good number of the No. 8-ranked 2022 recruiting class already on campus, this Sooners’ team definitely has a new look and feel, and the early signs and sounds scream positivism and a collective confidence going forward.

This is Venables’ first go-around as a head coach, but because of the high level of the college programs he has been associated with, he comes into the job probably better prepared that most first-time head coaches. And he is keenly aware of the tradition and high standards of Oklahoma football having been part of it for 13 mostly championship-level years before.

In a lengthy press conference the first week of spring practice, Venables talked about the need to do more than go out and exert a lot of energy and work hard in practice. That it’s not how hard you work, but what you are able to get out of it that makes it all worthwhile.


It starts with a daily focus and a formula for success within each day, Venables said.

How we’re going about that is “prepare and practice every day with purpose,” he said. By purpose, he means: “Really showing up with intensity. passion and love for what you’re doing.”

It’s more than about hard work and effort, though. It’s also about mental awareness and technique and how you apply that hard work.

“Uncommon effort with technique. That’s have you have great execution,” Venables said. At the end of the day, that’s the difference between winning and losing. The team that prepares the best and executes the best wins the game and wins championships.

And that all starts right now, at this time of the year, six months away from the first game of the season.

With a new head coach and virtually a new coaching staff, including two new coordinators and a number of new position coaches, especially on the defensive side, you can expect changes in overall philosophy, the approach to practice sessions and the associated activities and expectations.

The Sooners aren’t just working hard and putting in the early preseason sweat, effort and conditioning work that goes with spring practice, but they’re also having fun doing so. That’s an important distinction, and that’s to the credit of Venables and the new coaching staff.

It appears that the Sooner players are responding positively and with great attitudes to the new coaching regime. Junior defensive end Reggie Grimes is representative of how most of the Sooner roster is responding to all the changeover from last year to now.

Grimes was cited in the OU Daily, the University of Oklahoma student newspaper, as saying football has become exciting for him again with Venables at the helm and his new position coach Miguel Chavis.

“It’s completely different,” Grimes said. “With the previous coaches we had, we had an offensive mind. You saw how our offense was. Well, now that we have someone who has been the gold standard for defense as our head guy, you see how our defense is.

“It is different, but it’s different in a good way.”

Spring practice will end with the annual Red-White spring game on April 23. The format for the game has not been determined yet.

“We’ll figure that out as the spring goes,” Venables told the OU Daily. “A lot of the time that just depends on how the spring goes. You got your thoughts on what you’re experienced with, and our depth and development will determine that.”

Venables is well familiar with the OU spring game. He was part of at least a dozen of them as part of Bob Stoops’ staff in the opening decade of the 1990s.