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Oklahoman Modified: January 8, 2009 at 5:07 am •  Published: January 8, 2009
Friendly encounter
OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong have gotten to know each other over the years as finalists the same two years for the Broyles Award, which goes to the assistant coach of the year.

Both were finalists this year, with Wilson winning the award.

In 2000, Wilson, then at Northwestern, and Strong, then at South Carolina, were also finalists.

"Kind of funny,” Strong said. "We’ve met each other during that time and gotten to know each other.”

Heads up
Florida defensive back Joe Haden has a message for OU’s wide receivers.

Watch out for safety Major Wright.

"It’s definitely intimidating. Sometimes I even have to watch out,” Haden said. "I know that has to be in the back of their heads because Major will come at you with a lot of speed.”

Making it up
Last year, Sooner free safety Lendy Holmes didn’t travel to the Fiesta Bowl after being ruled academically ineligible.

Holmes said he’s carried that with him ever since, but it’s also given him extra motivation.

"I get to finish with my team instead of sitting at home and watching them play,” Holmes said. "Glad to be with the team. It’s the toughest thing to ever go through, letting my team down. That was a huge mistake; hopefully, I can make up for it.”

Good English
OU is loaded at defensive end, with Frank Alexander, Jeremy Beal and Auston English.

So who is toughest to block?

English, according to Sooner left tackle Phil Loadholt.

"Since I got here, it’s been me and Auston going against each other,” Loadholt said. "He knows me and I know him. So whenever we go against each other it’s always good.”

Not me
OU’s kick coverage woes have come up numerous times this week, especially since Florida boasts All-American returner Brandon James.

Many of those questions have been fielded by linebacker Travis Lewis. Jokingly, however, he set the record straight.

"Just so you know, I’ve never been in there when a kickoff has been returned,” he said.

Lewis is expected to be part of the coverage team tonight.

Taking care of the ball
Florida ranks No. 2 in the nation in turnover margin. OU ranks No. 1. The Sooners have 32 takeaways and just nine turnovers. Florida has 33 takeaways and just 11 turnovers.

"Take care of the football would be the biggest factor” in the game, OU coach Bob Stoops said. With good reason. During the Sooners’ well-documented four-game losing streak in BCS bowls, OU has six takeaways and 12 turnovers.

"Who wins that battle will probably win the game,” Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said.


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