The Oklahoma coaches made it clear. Trying to replace senior linebacker captain Corey Nelson wasn’t going to be a one-man job. It couldn’t be.
Nelson has meant too much to the team and his leadership on the field wasn’t going to allow just one person to slip right in.
The on-field communication is now being handled by Frank Shannon, while freshman Dominique Alexander is replacing Nelson at his position.
But Nelson’s loss has also changed the structure of OU’s defense and a fourth linebacker has come into the picture more than ever in P.L. Lindley.
Lindley started to see time against Texas and recovered a fumble but made a big imprint against Kansas as he gets more and more comfortable.
“P.L. is doing a really good job at the SAM backer, just on how he’s playing physical,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “He’s doing what we need him to at the point of attack there and played well.”
Nobody was expecting Lindley to be a name to watch, especially since it was tough to determine what position he would be playing. He was a defensive end at one time before making the switch to linebacker this season.
“Switching to this isn’t too different for me because I used to play linebacker in high school,” Lindley said. “It’s just like what I used to do.”
Lindley only has seven tackles in the two games, but he’s starting to make his presence known. And as more opposing teams are going toward a more rushing attack against OU, it’s going to be vital for Lindley to continue improving.
The defense struggled mightily against Texas and during the first quarter against KU. Adjustments were made and the Sooners righted the ship in the second half last weekend.
So much is expected from an OU defense that sometimes OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has to remind himself just how young some of those guys are.
“I think so because we get mad when get an eight-yard run or whatever but these guys, I couldn’t be more pleased with our overall effort and how they’ve played for the most part,” Stoops said. “There are always times you wished you had played a little bit better but when you look at the big picture these guys are showing great improvement and our future is very bright with these guys.”
Lindley can now be included in that group as well. Texas Tech brings about a different offense than OU has seen before, but Lindley said he’s not worried about that.