September 7, 2011

Sooner Hot 11: Stars Shine in Opener

The Sooner Hot 11 is a ranking, compiled by associated editor Josh McCuistion, of the previous Saturday's top performers and in Oklahoma's season opener to the 2011 season there were an ample amount of applicants to be considered as Oklahoma started strong with a 47-14 toppling of Tulsa. Every unit on the roster, save for special teams, is accounted for in this Hot 11 line-up so take a look at the breakdown of Oklahoma's kick of the year.

11. Brennan Clay, Running Back - Stats: 14-carries for 64-yards and am 11-yard touchdown along with four catches for 41-yards.
Analysis: The thing about a stable of backs like Oklahoma is employing is each has to fit a role and has to be willing to fit within that role. Clay fit into his role beautifully on Saturday night showing a bit of everything during a little over three quarters of action. Though he was a bit overshadowed by Whaley's storyline it would be a shame if Clay's performance is forgotten. Last Week: N/A

10. Demontre Hurst, Cornerback - Stats: Five tackles (three solo), one tackle for loss (one yard), one forced fumble.
Analysis: The numbers don't bear it out but based on the 'eye test' I could make a pretty serious case for him against just about anyone. Hurst is continually avoided by one quarterback after another and while most like to think of him as a pure cover corner that might not mix things up, he has never hesitated to stick his head in and make a tackle as he did on one bubble screen in the third quarter that ended up preventing a fairly big play.Last Week: N/A

9. Trey Franks, Wide Receiver - Stats: Seven catches for 74-yards.
Analysis: The speedy receiver at times looks a little off balance but did nothing to hurt his reputation as one of the offense's emerging young talents. Franks saw an opening with the absence of Kenny Stills and as always showed off reliable hands. When his production after the catch starts matching up with his talents for it he'll be an unholy terror for Big 12 -or is it PAC-16?- secondaries in the coming years.Last Week: N/A

8. Ben Habern, Center - Stats: N/A
Analysis: I think this is quite possibly the best game I've seen Habern play from beginning to end. In fact it almost feels a crime to have him this low on the board but it's more to do with some other very strong games. But if Habern can continue to grade out on that level you're talking about an All-Big 12 caliber type of season, whether it was pass blocking or clearing out linebackers, he was near flawless on the day..Last Week: N/A

7. Frank Alexander, Defensive End - Stats: Six tackles (three solo), 1.5 tackles for loss (two yards), one interception (27-yard return), two pass break-ups, one sack (one-yard), and one quarterback hurry.
Analysis: In the reverse of Hurst I feel like I'm almost cheating Alexander to have him here on this list. That stat line is as impressive as any defensive end could ever hope for in one single game. That said I felt like Alexander flashed in and out of the game a bit. Looking dominant at times and at others going largely unnoticed.Last Week: N/A

6. Ronnell Lewis, Defensive End - Stats: Eight tackles (four solo), 2.5 tackles for loss (eight yards), one sack (one yard).
Analysis: Lewis's first season opening start couldn't have gone a lot better for the Sooner junior. Lewis made numerous plays in the game and what may have separated him, at least in my mind, from Alexander was the variety of ways he made the plays, against the run, pass, and in open space he seemed to touch a little bit of every aspect.Last Week: N/A

5. Donald Stephenson, Offensive Tackle - Stats: N/A
Analysis: Maybe we were all a year early on some of our Stephenson predictions because as good as he was at times last year to me that's easily his best performance as a Sooner. Stephenson would always flash for a quarter or several series together but nowhere before has he been as complete as he was against Tulsa. Now, obviously it's just a first step and such a performance needs to be looked at when he faces an elite player like Florida State's Brandon Jenkins but if he keeps this up, he may finally live up to the hype.Last Week: N/A

4. Aaron Colvin, Safety - Stats: Eight tackles (six solo), one fumble recovery, and one pass break-up.
Analysis: Some have taken a few issues with Colvin but after watching the game again on Tuesday I just can't find any reasonable shortcoming in his performance. He isn't a big and physical safety like some in Oklahoma's years past but in this day and age of college football coverage over carnage should be the motto. And Colvin made several quality plays in space, again I think any concerns over his play are just off altogether.Last Week: N/A

3. Landry Jones, Quarterback - Stats: 35-for-47 for 375-yards and one four-yard touchdown.
Analysis: Jones is another that has had a few people doubting him but as one of his tougher critics through the years I think that's a pretty tough review. Jones was on point, made some good throws and aside from your typical first game rust I didn't notice any horrible decisions. Perhaps it was the birth of a running game that has been lacking for much of his career but whatever it was I thought it was a very solid start for Jones.Last Week: N/A

2. Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver - Stats: 14-catches for 158-yards and a four-yard touchdown.
Analysis: Honestly it may have been an incredibly storyline that kept him from the top spot but either way Broyles was his usual spectacular self. It may be the best testament to his talent that he could actually have a relatively quiet 14-catch 150-yard-plus performance. And there is no doubt he set the gauntlet in front of last year's whipping boy Greg Reid.Last Week: N/A

1. Dominique Whaley, Running Back - Stats: 18-carries for 131-yards and four touchdowns (2, 1, 6, 32)along with two catches for 12-yards.
Analysis: Wow, just not a lot you can say about this performance. Don't get me wrong there had been plenty of talk that Whaley was going to be a surprise but there is only so many times coaches and players can talk up a walk-on before everyone starts ignoring the 'wolf' in the room. But regardless of expectation Whaley exceeded anything anyone could have hoped for him, his 32-yard touchdown run was one of the better the Sooners had in some time.Last Week: N/A

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