Following a brief return to the Sooners sideline as the interim replacement for Lincoln Riley, Bob Stoops will step aside as Brent Venables takes over Oklahoma’s football program.
Venables spent 13 years working under Stoops as an associate coach, linebackers coach, and defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2001. After a decade at Clemson, he’s back to run the show for Oklahoma.
During a Wednesday interview on WWLS-FM’s “The Middle of the Day Show” in Oklahoma City (h/t Sam Marsdale of 247Sports), Stoops said he’s had a chance to watch practices run by his former colleague, and he’s impressed by the team’s physicality.
“I love what I see — the energy, the toughness, the hitting,” Stoops said. “We’ve had a ton of full-go tackling, and the guys are into it. They love the way they’re being coached, and we’re all making really strong improvements.”
Stoops expects big things from transfer quarterback Dillon Gabriel and new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.
“Dillon Gabriel’s the big question coming in with quarterback, and I think he’s going to do great. He’s had too much success, and Jeff Lebby’s had too much success for that not to happen. So I really believe they’ll take off and do well there, and really believe our defense will keep improving. Again, just newer players — the way they’ve been practicing and hitting, I’ll be surprised if we’re not a more-physical team.”
Gabriel threw 61 passing touchdowns in his first two seasons at UCF, the first with Lebby as his offensive coordinator, before injuries limited him to three games last year. The duo will look to replicate that success for the Sooners, who have the mastermind behind Clemson’s lockdown defense in charge.
Stoops, who will return to the XFL as a head coach when the league respawns in 2023, is setting the bar high for his former squad in 2022.
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