In the third quarter against Wake Forest last Saturday, Alexander knocked away a fourth-and-9 pass intended for Scotty Washington. When he got up, Alexander put his arms on his hips, stared at Washington and then followed right behind him with a half-prance, half-high step.
Alexander was not flagged for taunting. But quickly, the move was clipped and went viral.
“Throughout the game he was talking a little trash, so when I batted that ball down on fourth down, he’s just walking off the field,” Alexander said. “He had a lot to say earlier in the game, but now he started walking off the field and I’m just right behind him like, ‘Look at me now.’”
Alexander said his teammates laughed as he headed to the sideline. It was only after the game when he checked his Twitter feed and saw the notifications had skyrocketed that Alexander realized what happened.
His coaches saw what happened, too, and have been in his ear since Sunday telling him to never prance again.
“That was a one-time thing,” Alexander said.
His overall play this season has been anything but a one-time thing. Alexander starred as a receiver and defensive back in high school and flipped his commitment from South Carolina to Louisville late in the process. When he arrived as a midyear enrollee last season, he learned he would be playing defensive back full time.
It took some time to make the adjustment, though he played right away as the starting punt returner and a key backup. This offseason, Alexander committed himself to watching more tape and improving his technique.
“Going into this year, I had high expectations and high hopes,” Alexander said. “This past offseason was important for me to progress in the things I needed to do. Once I started working on those things more, I realized this year was going to be a great year.”
Alexander has started all 10 games and is second in the nation with five interceptions, making a strong case to earn first-team All-ACC honors. His two picks against Virginia helped the Cards overcome a double-digit deficit to win, 32-25. He also had a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown against Florida State and ranks fourth in the ACC in punt return average.
“He's just a very talented guy that's extremely smart and competent and can play the ball in the air,” coach Bobby Petrino said. “His ability to catch the ball and play the ball in the air shows you why we considered playing him at wide receiver and why we recruited him to play either receiver or corner.”
So would Petrino ever consider Alexander as a two-way player?
“No,” Petrino said. “It's a hard game. You've got to spend a lot of time just on the position you play.”
Alexander nagged Petrino to let him play both last year, but has since stopped. Still, Petrino “may get an earful in the offseason,” Alexander said.
Petrino is unlikely to change his mind, but what does it hurt to try? Alexander seems pretty unafraid to say how he feels. Or show how he feels, for that matter.