December 3, 2009

Hot 11 Is Special at the Top

The Sooner Hot 11 is a ranking, compiled by associated editor Josh McCuistion, of the previous Saturday's top performers. In Oklahoma's dominating 27-0 victory over Oklahoma State there were plenty of players who had games worth of the Hot 11, several of them in positions they aren't familiar with. This week's Hot 11 has many familiar faces but much like Oklahoma's starting line-up is also full of players beginning to make their mark this season. Have a look at the player-by-player breakdown of Oklahoma's lopsided performance against their in-state rivals and a former BCS contender. The lopsided win was a much deserved victory in an ever-turbulent season.

11. Eric Mensik, Offensive Tackle - Stats: N/A.
Analysis: How could he not be included on this list? Mensik made a few mistakes but with the crash course he undoubtedly went on over the last week. While some like to talk about how out of place he looked among the behemoth offensive linemen, something that was lost was some real positive signs of playing the position moving forward. Time will tell but don't right Mensik off as a possible offensive tackle this team needs in 2010. Last Week: N/A

10. Brian Jackson, Cornerback - Stats: Five tackles (four solo), one forced fumble, and three pass break-ups.
Analysis: He didn't have his almost standard big play this weekend but he did all the things asked of him and did a great job of baiting Zac Robinson into throws and avoiding penalties after breaking on the ball. More than once it looked as though Robinson had a completion before Jackson would dart in at the last second to break up a would-be first down. To anyone watching the Sooners consistently this year, Jackson played as well as any corner since Derrick Strait won a Thorpe award.Last Week: N/A

9. Demarco Murray, Running Back - Stats: 13 carries for 72-yards and two touchdowns (13, 12).
Analysis: This was a yeoman's effort from Murray who, for the most part, simply did his part and took what was given to him. Though it was his diving touchdown from the three-yard line that made all the highlights it was his tough runs in tough situations that truly separated him from the field. The talented running back picked up a crucial fourth down during the game and was also someone who kept the chains moving throughout the day.Last Week: N/A

8. Jonathan Nelson, Safety - Stats: Three tackles, one interception (37-yard return).
Analysis: While everyone has talked about the changes that Oklahoma can not control the one that has not been given enough attention at any point this year is the insertion of Nelson into the secondary. He has provided an ability in coverage that has not only helped Oklahoma's pass defense but has helped Quinton Carter play close to the line of scrimmage and allow him the freedom and open-style of play that seems to best suit his talents. Nelson is now a key piece of the Sooner defense.Last Week: N/A

7. Frank Alexander, Defensive End - Stats: Two solo tackles, one sack for loss (11 yards), one quarterback hurry.
Analysis: It actually shocks me a bit that I didn't get Alexander any higher than this after accomplishing what no defensive end in the Big 12 had accomplished in two seasons, he got a sack against Cowboy All-American Russell Okung. The talented sophomore from Louisiana gave Okung, a player more than deserving of his hefty praise, problems throughout the day and showed the promise of the guy who had Sooner fans raving as a freshman. Last Week: No. 7

6. Cory Brandon, Offensive Tackle - Stats: N/A.
Analysis: Apparently all it took was a move to the left side of the line for the somewhat light, but clearly athletic, Brandon. The Sooners big man had struggled all year long at right tackle to find any level of consistency but when forced into action at left tackle he seemed to quickly take hold of the responsibilities and did a great job making sure that Landry Jones had time to throw all afternoon. Last Week: No. 4

5. Gerald McCoy, Defensive Tackle - Stats: Three tackles (one solo), one quarterback hurry.
Analysis: McCoy, in all probability, played his final game on Owen field on Saturday and though he didn't get that one pinnacle moment that he richly deserved after three years of dominating offensive linemen that came into Norman. That said he put together a performance that is a near perfect example of his tenure in Norman in which his impact was better noticed by the pair of offensive linemen trying to deal with him than box score readers.Last Week: N/A

4. Jeremy Beal. Defensive End - Stats: 10 tackles (four solo), two tackles for loss (nine yards).
Analysis: In spite of one of his best stat lines of the season there hasn't been a lot of talk about just how good Beal was on Saturday. Not only was he his usual solid self in pass-rushing situations but he also may have played his best game of the season against the run forcing the Cowboys to try and find a third option to move the ball offensively. An option they, clearly, never found. Last Week: No. 4

3. Keenan Clayton, Linebacker - Stats: Nine tackles (seven solo), one tackle for loss (two yards).
Analysis: Yet another player that put together a massive performance and hasn't yet received his due. Clayton has been a bit up and down this year but in his final game at home he may have put together his masterpiece. Tackles in open space, dropping into coverage, you name every possible role that Clayton's SAM linebacker position should play and he met that and exceeded it. It's always nice to a senior go out in a big way and that's exactly what Clayton did against the Cowboys.Last Week: N/A

2. Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver - Stats: Nine catches for 103-yards and eight punt returns for 207-yards and one 87-yard touchdown.
Analysis: This will shock everyone that he didn't take the top spot. And while I may be overly harsh for a few mistakes there is no denying that anyone making the argument for Broyles at No. 1 is far from incorrect. Oklahoma's resident big-play receiver was named second team all-Big 12 this week and has put himself in position to be a legitimate Biletnikoff award contender next year. When you add in his ability as a return man you're suddenly talking about not just a dynamic player worth of Big 12 recognition but national honors as well.Last Week: N/A

1. Tress Way, Punter - Stats: Six punts for an average of 58.8-yards, two inside the 20.
Analysis: Go ahead and say it, 'Josh has lost his mind, a punter at the top spot?' However it's not often you see a special teams player put on a performance to rival what Way did on Saturday. The big redshirt freshman has had strong moments through the season and showed flashes of the leg strength that he displayed against Oklahoma State. However in no game before had he, or really any Sooner in the last decade, displayed the kind of performance that he did. With the wind, against the wind; it didn't matter he was going to kill it.Last Week: N/A

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