After Tulsa's first touchdown against Oklahoma last week, which came on blown coverage, TV cameras caught Sooners defensive coordinator Brent Venables having a heart-to-heart chat with young linebacker Corey Nelson.
Venables was reminding Nelson to communicate, to prevent such breakdowns. Making calls is particularly important for the sophomore from Dallas, while he fills in for all-conference player and leader Travis Lewis.
“We have to make sure everyone's on the same page,” Nelson said, referring also to middle linebacker Tom Wort. “I feel like I have to help control the defense while Travis is gone. To see something like that happen, it's detrimental to myself and the team.”
Nelson, who had three tackles, received positive reviews from the coaching staff. He played in all 14 games last season, but last week was Nelson's first career start.
“It was a pretty good start for me,” he said. “There's a lot of things I can improve on, though. I'm not going to lie. I can be better with my technique, being able to read the formations faster and knowing the offense and defense.”
nelson not ruling out lewis just yet
Coach Bob Stoops has made it seem unlikely Lewis would return for the Florida State game a week from today. Based on Lewis' attitude this week in meetings, Nelson is not so sure.
“I could tell when we were in the film room,” Nelson said Monday. “He's so ready. He's focused to get back out there. Travis isn't the guy to give up on anything, really.”
It would without question be difficult for Lewis to return, now a month removed from breaking a bone in his foot during camp. Lewis is in a protective boot now, as opposed to the cast he had for a few weeks. Being in game shape would be the chief concern for Lewis.
COACHES NOTICE WASHINGTON'S PLAY
Junior defensive end R.J. Washington was active in the Tulsa win, collecting one of the team's three sacks and nearly taking down Hurricane quarterback G.J. Kinne another time.
“He's probably a little more productive than we thought,” OU ends coach Bobby Jack Wright said. “He's as productive as he's been since he's been here.”
Washington appeared especially effective running the tackle spot in the Sooners' “50” scheme.
ALEXANDER DOES HIS NEON DEION IMPERSONATION
End Frank Alexander's teammates enjoyed his interception as it was happening Saturday – and in the film room Monday.
The Sooners razzed Alexander, a tight end in high school, for his high-stepping after picking off Kinne's deflected pass.
“I didn't even realize I was doing it,” he said. “I was just trying to get out of there and score.”
Alexander said he was petrified he was going to drop the ball, which he said hung in the air like a punt. The senior from Baton Rouge, La., had one of the best games of his career, finishing with six tackles, the interception and a couple of pass breakups at the line.