Alexander maturing for Sooners

He is still a freshman, but he's not playing like it anymore. OU linebacker Dominique Alexander is rounding into form more and more each game.

Injuries are going to happen. No team is immune and this year's Oklahoma squad is no different than anybody else.

The question is how you respond after an injury? How is your depth chart if one of your big guns goes down?

The Sooners had to find that answer in early October. Senior linebacker Corey Nelson, a team captain, was having a tremendous season. He had 27 tackles, three for loss and an interception returned for a touchdown. But in a 20-17 win against TCU, he suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle.

Out was Nelson and in was freshman Dominique Alexander. His first start, no biggie, just the Red River Rivalry against Texas. Alexander finished with a game-high 19 tackles.

It wasn't all good, though, as Alexander was frequently targeted by the Texas offense across the middle of the field. Now a month later, it feels like Alexander is starting to find his groove.

"I play faster," Alexander said. "Coach has said my vision has gotten a lot better, like seeing the whole play and everything. That's been my biggest area so far. I can see things a lot better with the more games that I play. I have a lot more confidence since my first game."

He is starting to play so well that nobody is really mentioning the fact last year at this time he was a senior defensive end at Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington.

Last week was another one of those times. It wasn't a good night by any means in a 41-12 dismantling outcome at Baylor, but Alexander was one of the lone bright spots.

He finished the game with 11 tackles, including a sack and forced fumble that resulted in a safety to give OU its own lead of the game at 5-3 in the second quarter.

"I think certainly Dominique Alexander, for a guy who hasn't been in the system at all until this summer, has stood out," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "I thought he's really shown great maturity on and off the field. He's a guy that really we can lean on and will be an awful strong player in this system."

Alexander is now third on the team with 51 tackles and also has 2.5 tackles for loss. Mike Stoops said there weren't be any babying with Alexander. If you sign at OU, you know what you're getting into.

This is what is expected of players that perform on the field, but even some of Alexander's teammates have been impressed with what he has been able to accomplish.

"Some of the younger guy who are playing are playing above their age," defensive lineman Chuka Ndulue said. "They're playing at a higher level than most young guys are expected to play."

Alexander isn't alone in that department. As injuries also forced fellow freshman linebacker Jordan Evans on the field, OU had two true freshmen linebackers on the field in the win against Texas Tech.

Alexander is doing well, but he knows there's a lot more to do.

"I've got to get bigger, stronger and faster," Alexander said. "I'm still learning a lot with each game I'm out there."

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