Live developments: Shooting at Penn Square Mall; suspect remains at largeSurvey: The best taco truck in Oklahoma City

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

OU kickoff return unit lauded

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Assistant coach Steve Addazio runs Florida’s kickoff return unit, so he’s studied Oklahoma’s kickoff coverage and has something to say about the crew that has exasperated Sooner coaches and fans alike all season.

"I think they have a good kickoff team,” Addazio said. "They’ve got a lot of speed. As fast of coverage as I’ve seen.”

Huh? A team that ranks 105th out of college football’s 119 teams in kickoff coverage? A team that’s allowed four touchdowns on kickoff returns this season?

Yes. That team.

And here’s what’s kooky. The stats don’t paint OU into such a bad light. In fact, you could argue that the Sooners have the overall better-performing units on kickoffs in this game.

Florida is 88th in kickoff coverage, its 22.35 yards averaged allowed not that much better than OU’s 24.05. And the Sooners actually have produced more touchbacks than has Florida, 15-12.

In kickoff returns, OU is fifth nationally, at 25.7. Florida is 49th, at 21.8. Neither team has returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

But OU’s DeMarco Murray, who ranks 10th nationally in kickoff returns, will miss the game with a hamstring injury.

And that little matter of four allowed TDs — notably Jordan Shipley’s, which rescued Texas in October — hangs over this team.

"We’ve been close to hitting a bunch this year,” Addazio said. "All of a sudden, you hit a couple home runs, and your stats are skewed.”

Sooner theories vary on what has been the problem.

Lendy Holmes: "We haven’t been disciplined all the time. Couldn’t get off our blocks or run through the wrong gap. Hopefully, it’ll be better in this game.”

Dom Franks: "Guys trying to do too much. Giving guys shoulders on blocks.”

Travis Lewis: "When this team really puts its mind to it on special teams, we rise to the challenge.”

Lewis points out that OU held Missouri speedster Jeremy Maclin in check in the Big 12 title game.

Florida speedster Brandon James has a big reputation, but he ranks just 58th nationally, with 23.7 yards per return.

"He’s a great player,” Franks said, "but we have also faced a lot of great players in the Big 12. We’re just going to have to be prepared, be physical and make a tackle.”

Related Photos
<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-49dcd0a8877ee002e19438d37ace5227.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure>
Comments