Oklahoma & Clemson Reflect On Bowl Week As Game Day Approaches
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Bob Stoops expects to see a familiar face on the opposing sideline during the Russell Athletic Bowl: Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who was on the Oklahoma sideline for 13 years (1999-2011) before joining the Tigers’ staff.
“I think we texted, ahead of game maybe a week or so when it was a lot of talk that we might be seeing each other, and we were both hoping that it wouldn’t come that way,” Stoops said. “But, again, when you’re in this profession as long as you are, you’re bound to run into some people that you’re close with that we’ve got to compete against.”
This year, Venables has the Tigers defense ranked first in the nation, allowing opponents to score an average of 17 points per game.
“All we’ve done is get better. That’s it. We’ve just gotten better. [Venables] has impacted tremendously,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “So we’re really proud of the job that he’s done.”
Venables and Clemson have to face off against Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine who is 10th in the country in total rushing yards (1,579) and holds the FBS record for most yards in a single game (427).
“He’s a great player,” Swinney said. “He’s a 240-plus pound bowling ball, man. He’s hard to tackle.”
Cole Stoudt, the Tigers’ starting quarterback for the bowl game, also stirs up some memories for Stoops. Stoudt’s father Cliff was a standout at Youngstown State in the 1970s while the Oklahoma coach was still in high school.
“I am a little probably more sentimental towards him,” Stoops said. “I’m a guy who grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and knew all about his dad, Cliff, and loved the way he played, not only Youngstown State but at Pittsburgh, and followed him forever. So, again, I think Cole’s done a really good job when he’s had his opportunities.”
Stoudt this season has thrown for 1,573 yards and six touchdowns. He will try and lead the senior class to their 42nd win in four years, which is already the most of any senior class in history.
“It’s going to be special,” Swinney said. “It’s an honor to be able to take the field with them one more time tomorrow night. And hopefully we can find a way to win and send them out with another victory, a 42nd win, which would be quite an accomplishment from where we were six years ago.”
Though the bowl week is coming to an end both Stoops and Swinney were impressed with the Orlando experience.
“It’s been an incredible week,” Stoops said. “Could not have been better in regard to accommodations, practice fields. Everybody that’s been a part of taking care of our team here for the last four or five days has just been amazing. So, again, I just want to thank all of them for a great experience. Our players have really enjoyed the experience and it’s been first class in every way.”
The players seemed to like it as well.
“This has been a great trip for our guys,” Swinney said. “I just came out of a senior meeting with all my seniors this morning, and these guys have had a great time, they really have. This has been a fun bowl.”