The Kansas Pioneer: Venables keeps offensive coordinators up at night


by - Senior Writer -
Venables is one of the true innovators in college football
Venables is one of the true innovators in college football

CLEMSON – Brent Venables was born in Salina, Kansas, a pioneering town on the edge of the Great American West, so it’s no wonder he’s a pioneer on the cutting edge of defensive football.

Venables was born in 1970, long after the westbound wagon trains slipped into the history books. Salina established itself as a trading post for westbound immigrants, prospectors bound for Pikes Peak, and area American Indian tribes before the Civil War. The town's growth halted with the outbreak of the Civil War.

Venables’ defense is once again one of the best in the country, and one offensive coordinator that knows him best is Tony Elliott. Elliott says Venables is a pioneer.

“What he does better than anyone in the country is he understands his personnel and puts them in position to be successful,” Elliott said Monday. “Week in and week out, the man can dissect an offense and figure out their weak points and he can go attack it. And he has the ability to get his players to have full confidence and belief even though the plan may change up week to week.

"When he was doing some of that three-down stuff [in the spring] and bringing Isaiah Simmons from the rafters, I was thinking, ‘Oh Lord, this is going to be hard.’ But it made us get better. Because what I've seen and what I've noticed is he's kind of a pioneer. He's kind out in front of everything and teams watch what he's doing and they start to emulate and mimic, so that's good for us because now a lot more teams are going to a three-man front. I think N.C. State revamped their D, they're in a three-man front now.”

Venables keeps it fresh – there’s something new in practice every day.

"Every day in practice when you set rules, the next day he's got about three more blitzes that run you hot and you're like, 'Oh my gosh.' But now we can tell our guys, there's nothing that you haven't seen,” Elliott said. "He could be a head coach anywhere he wants to be in a country, but he's just focused on being the best defensive coordinator and getting his guys ready play and does it better than anyone in the business.”

Venables is known for his intensity on the sidelines, but Elliott says the Kansas native is blessed with a tremendous memory.

"I like to think I have a good memory, but he can recall a call from 15 years ago at Oklahoma, and it's just unbelievable the football intelligence he has,” Elliott said. “He doesn't do it because he wants a pat on the back, but he does it to help his players be successful. He knows and wants to be able to give his young men help. And that's your job as a coach on game day to help your young men because they're not going to know everything you know as a coach. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you know as a coach, it matters what your players know. As a coach you've got to be able to relate to them and give them the information they need to be successful.”

All in all, the pioneer keeps Elliott from sleeping at night.

"He knows exactly how to blitz you to run you hot,” Elliott said. “I lose sleep at night trying to think how I'm going to keep my quarterback upright against him in practice."

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