Nebraska Opponent Spring Review: Oklahoma
As Nebraska enters a critical fifth season under head coach Scott Frost in 2022, we decided to look at where things stand with the Huskers’ 12 opponents coming out of spring practices.
Today, we check out Oklahoma's first spring with its new head coach Brent Venables. Bob Przybylo from SoonerScoop.com gave us his thoughts on the Sooners who come to Lincoln for a week three matchup.
Three spring storylines to know:
1. New head coach Brent Venables
Oklahoma has a new head coach in former Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Lincoln Riley moved on to USC after five seasons as the Sooners' head coach.
Przybylo said Venables has brought a new culture and energy to the team and "reenergized" the campus. He said all of the Oklahoma fans are fired up to see what Venables will do.
Venables asked Sooner fans to show up to the spring game and they did. Oklahoma had a record-number 75,000 fans at its spring game.
Sooner Nation has fresh energy and excitement surrounding its team with a new head coach.
2. Defensive-minded head coach
During Riley's time at Oklahoma, the offense was its strongest phase and the focus of the team. But now with a defensive-minded head coach, it's the defense's turn.
Przybylo said eyes have been on the defense all spring wondering just how good they will get with Venables at the helm.
Oklahoma has started getting defensive players on the recruiting trail that Przybylo said they never had a chance at before.
Having the defensive reputations of Venables and co-defensive coordinator Todd Bates is paying off with recruits but will be one of the main focuses to see if they can translate it to the field.
3. Quarterback Dylan Gabriel
Oklahoma flipped UCF transfer quarterback Dillon Gabriel to OU from UCLA.
Sooner offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, who coordinated UCF's offense in 2019, had an influence on Gabriel's decision as he recruited him to UCF and OU.
As a junior at UCF in 2021, Gabriel went 70-of-102 for 814 passing yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions.
Przybylo said it's been surprising how fast Gabriel took over the locker room and became one of its top leaders.
Early outlook on Nebraska vs. Oklahoma:
Przybylo: "It's gonna be a lot of fun. I know OU fans are a little surprised to be playing against Casey Thompson again. They thought they were done with Casey Thompson after the way he played against OU last year with Texas and of course all the ties that he has to OU.
"I don't know if it'd be more competitive than 2021 but it's gonna have the feeling that it should be. This shouldn't be a game where you think OU will win by 20-30 points and they win by seven and you're kind of shocked, this should be a competitive game.
"I know Brent Venables, I'm sure he's gonna be so thrilled to be going back to Lincoln with all the memories that he's had there over the years. But it's going to be a great first test. Because we know what Venables has done as a defensive coordinator for years and years.
"This would feel like the first mini-tests he's gonna have to pass as a head coach going in a hostile environment, being able to cope with that as a head coach compared to being a coordinator. This will be our first real sign of "All right, you wanted Venables as the head coach? This is what he brings to the table.""
2022 win-loss expectation for Oklahoma:
Przybylo: "It's funny because when you're listening nationally, everyone thinks OU is in shambles and when you're in the OU bubble, you actually feel like the program is in a better situation than it was 12 months ago, but does that mean the product on the field is actually better?
"It feels like in the long run, OU is getting more equipped for the move to the SEC. It's feeling better in terms of its facilities, in terms of its personnel and it's getting all of its ducks in a row, as it's about to make that move. But what does that mean for 2022? And that's a legitimate question.
"When you look at the way OU has played in recent years, there's always that game or two, that makes zero sense, where OU has a hiccup and you don't understand it. Can Venables bring out the consistency with every single game, with every single week? It's something he preaches, every little thing matters. That's been sort of his mantra ever since he's taken over is like, "you can't forget about the little things because they all add up to the big things." So we're going to find that out.
"I think, OU is going to be in a very good position. I can't see why OU wouldn't win the Big 12. And if they don't, I would actually see it as a pretty big, not indictment, but a massive disappointment for Venables and for all the fans."