September 20, 2010

Air Force Hot 11

The Sooner Hot 11 is a ranking, compiled by associated editor Josh McCuistion, of the previous Saturday's top performers and in Oklahoma's mystifying 27-24 battle with Air Force the job was to figure which 11 Jekyl and Hyde performances were the most consistent. That being said there is no question that in spite of a nearly perfect 60 minutes on Owen Field there were a few players who stood out amongst the others. Take a look as we go from top to bottom in a breakdown of Oklahoma's early season head scratcher.

11. Tress Way, Punter - Stats: Four punts 50-yards per kick.
Analysis: Honestly Way could make this list every single week with the way he is playing so far this season, it's hard to imagine a punter more at the forefront of the Ray Guy watchlist. He isn't yet being asked to drop punts inside the 20 or angle away from fear punt returners but after watching him two weeks ago against Florida State's Greg Reid the Sooners may have enough faith to let him battle any return man in the country.Last Week: N/A

10. Trey Millard, H-Back - Stats: N/A.
Analysis: This may be the first time that I've placed a skill position player on this list who failed to log a single stat but if there were players who did it's the last two who played Millard's current position. And much like Brody Eldridge and J.D. Runnels, Millard is becoming known for bone-jarring hits and seems to have gained the confidence of his running backs who are nearly glued to his hip each time he enters the hole.Last Week: N/A

9. Stacy McGee, Defensive Tackle - Stats: Eight tackles (five solo).
Analysis: I admit I've always been a big believer in McGee's upside but Saturday was the first time I felt there was some vindication for my belief. Usually Oklahoma's three-techniques are making plays up the field but against Air Force's attack and the way they attack the interior of the defense that's not really a possibility. That said McGee made more than enough of his opportunity and did a great job keeping his feet to stay in the play with so many others fell short.Last Week: N/A

8. Kenny Stills, Wide Receiver - Stats: Four catches for 47-yards.
Analysis: Stills' numbers may not jump off the page but the role he played as Oklahoma's No. 2 wide receiver and the fact that almost all of his catches were important to the flow of Oklahoma's offense. The skilled wide receiver has often been talked about with his ability to stretch the field but it was his help underneath that truly helped Oklahoma to continue to move the chains.Last Week: N/A

7. Landry Jones, Quarterback - Stats: 26-for-42 for 254-yards and one 17-yard touchdown.
Analysis: I went back and forth on Jones' ranking, part of me thinks this is a little low, another part thinks it's a little high. Either way I think too much has been made of his performance either way it wasn't a championship effort but it also wasn't anything that was going to cost Oklahoma the game. The biggest note was the chance to see him struggle a bit and kind of right the ship, something he hadn't normally done in his time as the starter.Last Week: No. 1

6. Tony Jefferson, Defensive Back - Stats: Eight tackles (three solo), one tackle for loss (one yard).
Analysis: I may be a week late on this one but Jefferson has already made two of the three Hot 11's and is starting to establish himself as one of the best young defenders in the Big 12, if not the nation. The thing that makes Jefferson such an asset defensively is his ability to help not only with the run game but also his ability in pass defense. Though he didn't get to show a lot of the latter against Air Force he did overcome a few early mistakes to place himself near the top of the heap.Last Week: N/A

5. Jonathan Nelson, Safety - Stats: 10 tackles (five solo), one tackle for loss (one yard).
Analysis: Nelson was kind of lying in the weeds the first few weeks but in something of a surprise it was against a predominant run team that Nelson really found his feet. In another big surprise the smaller of Oklahoma's two safeties laid the lumber to a pair of Air Force skill players during the game. His teamwork on the pitchmen with this Hot 11's No. 1 was by and large exemplary.Last Week: N/A

4. Travis Lewis, Linebacker - Stats: 13 tackles (six solo), half sack (4 yards).
Analysis: Much like Nelson, Lewis hadn't yet put up the kind of performance that I had been expecting of him but it wasn't just good play from Lewis that separated him from many of his teammates. Instead the ability to play through an injury, albeit a minor one, and put together one of the better games of his ever-growing career is what shows why some consider him the nation's top linebacker. In the third quarter as Oklahoma found some breathing room he was one of the biggest reasons for Oklahoma's defensive stops.Last Week: N/A

3. Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver - Stats: 10 catches for 116-yards.
Analysis: I've said it before but Broyles' inclusion on this list is becoming a foregone conclusion. Not only does he accumulate quality stats it always seems to be Broyles who makes the catch when Oklahoma needs it most. To date the skilled receiver from Norman high has cemented himself as the country's top wide receiver but as he starts heading into some bigger games, including Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma's first road trip there is little doubt that his impact will only grow not only as a receiver but also in the return game.Last Week: No. 3

2. Demarco Murray, Running Back - Stats: 26 carries for 110-yards and two touchdowns (3, 5) along with five catches for 38-yards and a 17-yard touchdown.
Analysis: Listening to Kevin Wilson's post-game interview it's clear that he saw a lot of the same things I did, the talented senior ran well in the first half but in the second half simply would not take no for an answer. It wasn't his usual collection of impressive runs or jaw-dropping moves; instead Murray did exactly what people have been hoping to see for him from years. If Murray can continue to run tough and mix in his normal highlight reel runs he may live up to the hype that many have placed at his feet. Last Week: No. 7

1. Demontre Hurst, Cornerback - Stats: Three tackles (two solo), one and a half tackles for loss (6-yards).
Analysis: The stat line will leave a lot of people -well at least those who weren't paying attention- scratching their head but Hurst was stellar in run defense as well as his limited opportunities in pass coverage. His rapid development over the last year and a half are giving Oklahoma it's first true shutdown corner (don't believe me? Ask yourselves how many times opponents have thrown at him) since the days of Derrick Strait. The one thing I will grant the headscratching readers of this ranking, you don't get to see Hurst very often as there isn't much coming his way.Last Week: No. 9

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