NORMAN — Oklahoma freshman linebacker Dominique Alexander misjudged Notre Dame's first offensive play of the second half two weeks ago, leaving enough of a hole for George Atkinson III to sneak through and break away for an 80-yard touchdown.
“He learned a couple of tough lessons today,” linebackers coach Tim Kish said after the game. “He has some growing up to do. He played his heart out. We just have to keep getting him better to help down the road.”
That road ended up being a lot shorter than anyone expected.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops announced Sunday that senior linebacker Corey Nelson will probably miss the rest of the season with a partially torn pectoral muscle, an injury suffered in the third quarter of Saturday's 20-17 home win over TCU.
After Nelson's injury, Alexander saw an increase in playing time that's likely to continue next weekend in the Red River Rivalry against Texas.
Alexander (6-foot-2, 216 pounds) has appeared in all five of Oklahoma's games this season, even earning a start against Tulsa on Sept. 21. He's made 10 tackles as the Sooners' top reserve linebacker.
The Tulsa Washington product signed with OU last February after originally committing to Arkansas as a safety.
The versatile Alexander played safety, defensive end and linebacker during his high school career.
“He's playing really well,” Stoops said of Alexander last week. “I'm really excited about him, and he's going to be a great football player, a really good football player.”
He'll have big shoes to fill. Nelson, a Dallas native and a team captain, had recorded 27 tackles, four pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and a sack through the first five games of this season.