Alexander off the bench? Sooners loaded
I walked up to OU defensive ends coach Chris Wilson on Media Day and told him his position was pretty loaded if Auston English, who a mere two years ago was a serious candidate for Big 12 defensive player of the year, wasn’t even going to start.
“He’s not?” Wilson asked with about 75 percent seriousness. “I didn’t know that.”
Wilson wasn’t bluffing. He said Thursday that English and Jeremy Beal would start at defensive end, with Alexander off the bench in a rotation that also is likely to include David King and R.J. Washington.
Makes me think of 1985. In 1984, OU defensive end Kevin Murphy, a great player, was injured, so the Sooners turned to redshirt freshmen Darrell Reed and Troy Johnson. Reed was in line to start, but Johnson was relatively unknown.
Both became excellent players as rookies, the Sooner defense was outstanding and OU won the Big Eight title. A year later, Murphy returned for a fifth year, and the Sooners suddenly were loaded at defensive end.
That’s where the 2009 Sooners are. I would rank OU’s best defensive players this way: 1. G.K. McCoy; 2. Frank Alexander; 3. Travis Lewis; 4. Dom Franks; 5. Brian Jackson; 6. Jeremy Beal; 7. Adrian Taylor; 8. Keenan Clayton.
If I’m off, I don’t think I’m off much. If Alexander is not the second-best defender on this team, he’s close. And yet, he’s not going to start.
Beal has turned into a wonderful player, and if English is anything close to where he was throughout much of 2007, he’s a wild man himself. They are elder statesmen on this defense, so I don’t have a beef with the starting designations. But that doesn’t Alexander is not a pass-rushing demon. I think he’s a budding superstar.
And yet, on this team, he’s the backup defensive end.
By the way. That 1985 OU team? The defense did OK. Over the last seven games of that season, it allowed 42 points total. It shut out Colorado and OSU. It held SMU (back when the Ponies were riding high) to 13. Kansas and Missouri to six each. Nebraska to seven, a touchdown scored on a fumblerooski. And in the national title game, Penn State managed 10 points.
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