November 3, 2009

Jones Takes Top Perch for Kansas State Hot 11

The Sooner Hot 11 is a ranking, compiled by associated editor Josh McCuistion, of the previous Saturday's top performers. In Oklahoma's roller coaster of a 42-30 victory over Kansas State there were plenty of players who had Hot 11-type moments almost every one of them had their rough patches as well. This week's Hot 11 has many of the 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 three quarters of strong football and a rough third quarter of one of the Big 12 North's contenders. The lopsided win left plenty of question marks but was an important win in the Big 12 season.

11. Tress Way, Placekicker/Punter - Stats: Two punts for 86-yards and six extra points.
Analysis: Unlike just about any player among those listed here Way was consistent throughout for quarters of play. His save of a near punt block was a miraculous play and it was even more impressive when considering that Way took a huge shot after getting the ball off. Way also has shown no signs of having any problems with extra points when his predecessor at times struggled even with his successful kicks.Last Week: N/A

10. Ben Habern, Offensive Center - Stats: N/A.
Analysis: As with any offensive linemen Habern's going to be noticed more often when he misses a block than when he gets it right. There are several plays worth watching to see how Habern continues to progress as a young center but the work on Chris Brown's 44-yard dash was perhaps the best of them. In a one-on-one blocking situation Habern picked up a defensive lineman and managed to keep him busy enough to even fail to notice Brown rushing past his right shoulder.Last Week: N/A

9. Quinton Carter, Safety - Stats: Nine tackles (eight solo), one interception for a nine-yard return, one pass break-up.
Analysis: Last week Carter had several missed tackles and really didn't seem to be playing with the physicality that had made him such a fan favorite in his limited playing time last season. However this week he seemed to be back to his old tricks and made several good plays in open space that helped prevent short plays from turning into lengthy ones for the Wildcats. The defense as a whole missed too many tackles but Carter seemed to be back to his solid self. Last Week: N/A

8. Brian Jackson, Cornerback - Stats: Three tackles (one solo), half a tackle for loss (one yard).
Analysis: Jackson is on this list for the same reason that most corners don't end up on such lists, you didn't hear his name called at all on Saturday night. It seems Big 12 coaches when faced with the unenviable decision of deciding between Jackson and Dominique Franks are more and more shying away from the senior from Desoto, Texas. There really is no telling how much NFL money Jackson has made for himself with his play in the last six weeks.Last Week: N/A

7. Trent Williams, Offensive Tackle - Stats: N/A.
Analysis: Williams just keeps grading out well. He hasn't been perfect and it's become clear that he is definitely a right tackle but as the season has worn on he has become better and better about dealing with the elite pass rushers that he faces week in and week out. The big offensive lineman is a big part of the fact that for two straight weeks Landry Jones hasn't been sacked. Last Week: No. 7

6. Jeremy Beal, Defensive End - Stats: Eight tackles (three solo), three tackles for loss (10 yards), one and a half sacks (5 yards).
Analysis: His stat line should have him higher but Beal is probably the embodiment of the player that was big-time in the first half but fell a little short in the third quarter of a pinnacle performance. Of course it's great to have big moments but the key to a great defense is consistency and it seemed the entire unit struggled with that on Saturday night. It may be the only time all season that Beal could be questioned about continuously going hard. Last Week: No. 4

5. Demarco Murray, Running Back - Stats: 15 carries for 62-yards and two scores (1, 3). Four catches for 28-yards and one score (6)
Analysis: This is the way everyone felt Murray would be used throughout the season. Be it in the run game, the pass game, Murray is making an impact and making defenses account for him at all time. After some early season problems with fumbles Murray seems to have improved his ball security and is back to making plays for Oklahoma even if he isn't quite healthy yet.Last Week: N/A

4. Gerald McCoy. Defensive Tackle - Stats: One assisted tackle, half a sack (five yards).
Analysis: McCoy's stats are as paltry as any point this season. That being said Oklahoma has already begun to send out literature on McCoy's candidacy for several national awards and he did nothing to hurt the idea that he should be among the top candidates for each of them. McCoy's impact isn't just seen on the stat line but the reality that backs and tight ends must be kept in frequently to help make up for the massive push coming from the interior of the line. Last Week: No. 4

3. Dejuan Miller, Wide Receiver - Stats: Nine catches for 94 yards and one touchdown (23).
Analysis: Miller is officially a weapon for the Oklahoma offense. Many had complained for weeks that Miller wasn't playing more and while that may have been justified Miller was still dropping passes and making occasional errors that were costing the team. On Saturday he played a great game and was a big part of some of Oklahoma's successful ground game. For weeks it's been a question of who would step up for the Sooners and it says a lot about Miller that he is answering the bell for the offense.Last Week: N/A

2. Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver - Stats: Eight catches for 91-yards and two scores (15, 2). Two carries for 23-yards.
Analysis: In last week's Hot 11 it was talked about but there is no denying that Broyles is showing a resiliency and toughness that some may have questioned prior to the season. On his acrobatic catch in the first quarter Broyles landed directly on an area of his body that he is fighting through some pain in. This type of performance is as crucial to the team as any big speech, the fact that Oklahoma's biggest offensive weapon is willing to step up and continue playing in spite of most of Oklahoma's pre-season goals being out of reach is a sign of real leadership. Last Week: No. 1

1. Landry Jones, Quarterback - Stats: 26-for-37 for 294-yards and four touchowns (15, 23, 2, 6)
Analysis: Jones has played well prior to this season but this was so clearly his best performances it's impossible to think of him anywhere else on this list. All week long radio shows talked about whether or not Jones 'knowing' he is the man under center for the Sooners this year would be a positive for him and it now seems pretty clear that's exactly what happened. There is no splitting of practice snaps or wondering when Sam Bradford might return, Jones is the guy and after Saturday night that seems to be a very good thing. Last Week: No. 5

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