His senior year, Alexander was dominant. He led the Big 12 with 8.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He also recorded 54 tackles and batted down six passes.
Two years later, Alexander is carving out a reserve role behind Hardy and Johnson, who combined for 23.5 sacks last season. With players like Alexander coming off the bench, Carolina's D-line was selected the No. 1 unit on the team by the Charlotte Observer.
“They do a really good job with their rotation,” Buffalo coach Doug Marrone told the Charlotte Observer. “You have to spend a lot of (practice) time making sure they don't take over a game. That front seven probably is under the radar, but people are starting to take notice.”
As for the big picture, Carolina is off to a hard-luck 0-2 start.
The Panthers led Seattle 7-6 in the opener but lost 12-7. Last week, Buffalo scored with: 02 left to rally for a 24-23 win, the only time the Bills led other than a 3-0 early lead.
“We just need everybody to work together, be on the same page, believe in each other,” Alexander said. “If we come together as a team we can accomplish a lot.”
How soon the Panthers evolve into a viable playoff contender in large part revolves around quarterback Cam Newton, the first player in 60 years to win the Heisman Trophy, win the national championship and be the first overall pick of the draft.
Newton dazzled as a rookie, throwing for 4,051 yards and 21 touchdowns and running for 706 yards and 14 TDs. He compiled another solid season a year ago. But after averaging around 300 yards total offense his first two seasons Newton is averaging only 200 the first two games.
“He's works extremely hard every day and is a great leader,” Alexander said. “He's got some experience now. He knows what it takes to win games. Cam wants to win as much as anybody. Those are the type of players you want to surround yourself with.”
Carolina is trying to avoid a second consecutive disastrous start. A year ago, the Panthers started 1-6 and were 2-8 the week before Thanksgiving. Carolina, though, won five of its final six, highlighted by a season-ending four-game winning streak to finish 7-9.
“It showed everyone on this team what we're capable of,” Alexander said. “Everyone here believes in what we're doing. We made a lot of steps in the offseason. We just have to put it all together.”