September 25, 2006

Plenty to choose from in this week's Hot 11

This week's Hot 11 could have quite easily been a Hot 22, while the Sooners were playing an overmatched opponent don't let that fool you into thinking it wasn't their strongest performance of the year. For the first time all season it seemed all engines were firing; very little of which had to do with level of competition so much as just performing the basic fundamentals of football.

Here is a look at this week's Sooner Hot 11.

1. Malcolm Kelly, Wide Receiver - Stats: 5 catches, 164 yards, 1 touchdown
Last Week: 4
Analysis: Some people were claiming that Kelly had signaled his arrival as a playmaker last week against Oregon, but after setting a school record for receiving yardage in a quarter against Middle Tennessee State, it's clear that Kelly's status as Oklahoma's next great receiver is firmly in place. The 6-foot-4, sophomore gave Oklahoma the deep threat it had lacked since the departure of Brandon Jones, Mark Clayton, and Mark Bradley following the 2004 season. If his play can continue, the Sooners may be able to draw a defender or two off the line to give Adrian Peterson more room.

2.Rufus Alexander, Linebacker - Stats: Eight tackles (Five Solo), five tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery
Last Week: 6
Analysis: Much like Kelly, Alexander started to show signs of an emergence last week but no one could have anticipated a performance that ranks among his best in the Sooner uniform. I've long questioned Alexander's consistent presence on the field but on Saturday night in Norman one didn't have to look for Alexander, they simply needed to find the ball and watch as No. 42 came flying into collect a fumble, or cause it. If this is the Alexander we see throughout the season, hello Butkus.

3. Paul Thompson, Quarterback - Stats: 13-for-18, 257 yards, 3 touchdowns
Last Week: 2
Analysis: Week in and week out Thompson just keeps getting better. Most notable of his improvements this weekend was his ability to throw the long ball. Thompson's gifts aren't most readily seen in his deep passes but his improvement in this area over the past few weeks is more than slightly noticeable. His emergence in this area directly relates to the development of Kelly as a deep threat. His continued emergence is a tribute to not only his hard work, but also that of coaches Kevin Wilson and Josh Heupel.

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