Soon after his team’s win over Nebraska last week, Oklahoma coach Brent Venables had plenty of activity on his phone.
“Great job getting No. 3,” the text message from legendary former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “Now go get No. 4.”
An hour later, Venables’ phone buzzed again.
“Except not this week,” Snyder said.
Venables and the No. 6 Sooners (3-0) open Big 12 play Saturday against visiting Kansas State (2-1) at Norman, Okla., trying to finish off win “No. 4.”
Venables was a walk-on linebacker for Kansas State in the early 1990s and carved out a role with the Wildcats, then began his coaching career there before joining Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma staff after the 1998 season.
Venables has coached against his alma mater multiple times, but Saturday’s game will be his first against Kansas State as head coach. He said he will treat it like any other game.
The Sooners come into the game undefeated, having rolled through opponents by a combined 127-30 in nonconference play.
The Wildcats come in off a 17-10 home loss to Tulane.
“It’s not panic time,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said. “But we know we need to improve.”
The Wildcats’ offense struggled against the Green Wave, with just 336 total yards.
Kansas State has performed well against the Sooners in recent years, winning two of the last three meetings. Oklahoma won last year’s meeting 37-31.
Wildcats quarterback Adrian Martinez also has had success against the Sooners.
Martinez was Nebraska’s quarterback last season in a 23-16 loss at Oklahoma, throwing for 289 yards and a touchdown with one interception and ran for 34 yards and a score.
Venables said he showed his team clips of Martinez’s performance against the Sooners.
“This is a dude now,” said Venables, the defensive coordinator at Clemson last season. “One of the best players in the Big Ten and, systematically, fits their system. He’s a little different than the quarterback they had a year ago.”
Both teams rank in the top 15 nationally in rushing yards, with Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn rushing for 352 yards and three touchdowns through the first three games.
Vaughn rushed for 51 yards on 15 carries and added 10 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown receiving against the Sooners last season.
“You can have him dead to rights and he makes plays,” Venables said.
Vaughn had eight catches against Tulane last week but averaged less than four yards per reception.
Eric Gray has rushed for 286 yards and two touchdowns for Oklahoma while Marcus Major has four touchdowns on the ground.
Kansas State has forced seven turnovers — all interceptions.
The Sooners have turned the ball over just once and have yet to throw an interception.
“He has to continue to trend that way,” Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said of quarterback Dillon Gabriel. “It’s all about the ball. It’s going to start and end there. We have to take care of it. They’ve done a great job of creating turnovers. … Dillon has to continue to take care of the rock.”
–Field Level Media