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Travis Lewis is OU's not-so-silent leader on defense

If you watched the OU-Florida State game, you likely saw Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis bouncing around, calling out plays and pointing fingers. It isn't all strategy though. “It's 90 percent trash talk, 10 percent Xs and Os,” Lewis said.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: September 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm •  Published: September 23, 2011

Travis Lewis lurked behind the line before almost every snap, pointing and hollering and gesturing and hollering some more.

Who does he think he is?

Peyton Manning?

Well, as last week at Florida State showed, no one plays the quarterback role for the Oklahoma defense quite like Lewis. The senior linebacker returned to the lineup and reminded everyone of his value to this team. It's not only his skills or his tackles or his sacks.

It's his voice, too.

“I talk a lot,” Lewis said with a smirk.

That's never been in question, but what exactly is he saying out there? What did he say against the Seminoles that helped propel the Sooners to one of their most dominant defensive performance in years? What will he say Saturday night when Missouri comes to Norman looking to spoil OU's national title hopes?

He has a special formula.

“It's 90 percent trash talk, 10 percent Xs and Os,” he said.

His teammates don't dispute that the loquacious Lewis is a trash talker of the highest order. He wolfs at quarterbacks. He barks at running backs.

But in the pointing and hollering and gesturing is a bevy of information.

“Travis is one of the smartest people on our defense,” free safety Javon Harris said. “Sometimes, he'll tell you exactly what the play is before it happens.”

Lewis did it regularly against Florida State. Apparently, the Seminoles give away a lot in their formations and their tendencies with their motion.

He saw a quarterback run coming on the play that ultimately knocked EJ Manuel out of the game. The Seminole quarterback practically ran to Lewis, who put him on the ground and sent him to the locker room a few plays later with a shoulder injury.

That type of recognition is a product of preparation. On Sundays alone, Lewis studies two hours of film solo and two hours with coaches.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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