Still recovering from loss of Nelson, Sooners prep for Texas

The Sooners are 5-0, ranked No. 11 and a big favorite heading into Saturday’s game against Texas in Dallas.

But there are plenty of issues surrounding the team.

Here are three take-aways from OU’s Mondays press conference and practice.

1. Corey Nelson’s loss has a lot of implications
Not only is the senior captain out for the rest of the season, but the linebacker from Dallas won’t get a chance to make it four in a row against Texas in his hometown.

“He’s upbeat,” coach Bob Stoops said. “He’s disappointed, too.”

Nelson, who had 27 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown this season, isn’t just another player for the Sooners. He’s a three-year starter who was having his best season. In his place comes inexperience.

The Sooners are listing either Dominique Alexander or Aaron Franklin as the starter. Alexander is a freshman from Tulsa, Okla. He was the replacement for Nelson in the third quarter when Nelson went down with the torn pectoral muscle. Franklin is a redshirt junior from Marshall, Texas. He appeared in 12 games last year and has one tackle this year.

Franklin has practiced as a quarterback, defensive end and slot receiver at OU before finding a spot at linebacker. 

“I’m just trying to take the production Corey was having and continue it,” Franklin said.

More on Nelson: He will not be having surgery this week so he can be around his teammates, coach Bob Stoops said. Nelson was at practice today and was said to be upbeat and helping his fellow linebackers prepare for the game against Texas. Also, Stoops said the school is looking into the possibility of a redshirt for the senior. Nelson has not redshirted, so there is a slight possibility he could earn one, although unlikely considering Nelson has played in all five games this year, which is more than than 30 percent of the team’s games. 

“He’s a big leader for us,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “He’s had a spectacular year. But other guys will have to pick up the slack. This will be a good test for us.”

2. Bob Stoops was notably loose today

Hard to say whether it’s a good thing or not, but Stoops was chipper and more upbeat than usual for his Monday meeting with the media.

Maybe it’s because he knows his team is pretty good and certainly a lot better than Texas. Maybe it was just because it was a nice, sunny day.

Either way, Stoops answered all the typical questions but also talked about his health, superstitions and a number of other things, including the fact he likes to swim and bike. He used to run, but now he says he can’t. 

OK, well, good to know. 

But the best line of the day from Stoops was this: “When I got here, I was told that all anyone cares about was beating Texas. Just win that one. They were lying. You have to win them all. There was no one patting us on the back after what happened at the end of last season.”

3. Sure, it was just TCU, but it’s time to start believing in the OU defenseHey, all you folks praising Baylor and its offense, you better be doing the same for OU’s defense.

The Baylor offense has been the talk of the conference – even the nation – but the Bears haven’t done it against a quality opponent. 

Meanwhile, tease all you want about the TCU offense – the Frogs didn’t get a first-half first down, but OU is now won five in a row and not allowed more than 21 points this season. The Sooners went 10 possessions in a row, dating back to the Notre Dame game, without allowing a first down and now leads the Big 12 in scoring defense (13), total defense (281) and pass defense (168). Also, OU has the fewest penalties (26) in the league.

TCU had just 135 yards of total offense until deep into the fourth quarter. 

Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK