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.