October 8, 2008

Sooner Hot 11: Baylor

The Sooner Hot 11 is a SoonerScoop.com ranking of the previous Saturday's top performers and in Oklahoma's 49-17 victory over Baylor there were several stars worthy of recognition and for the second week in a row there is a first-timer atop the SoonerScoop.com Hot 11. Have a look at the Sooners final tune-up before their nationally-televised top-five match-up with the Texas Longhorns.

11. Jermaine Gresham, Tight End - Stats: Two catches for 22 yards.
Analysis: If you would have told me two years ago that Gresham would make this list predominantly for a great job as a run-blocker I never would have believed it. Gresham had a few catches, including a third down conversion from Sam Bradford, but through the day his down-blocking from his position helped set up multiple touchdown drives for the Sooners. Gresham is finally a full-service tight end for the Sooners.Last Week: N/A

10. Lendy Holmes, Safety - Stats: Six tackles (four solo).
Analysis: Holmes has always been a player that has shown flashes of brilliance but struggled to find consistency but as this marks his third time in the list it's clear that some of the ghosts of his past are no longer a problem. Holmes has had to steady a secondary in which he wasn't the only returning player but the only player returning at the same position and Holmes has been the calming force he has needed to be .Last Week: No. 5

9. Demarco Murray, Running Back - Stats: 26 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Analysis: Murray may not have had the explosive type of game that he became so well known for last season but the game showed a maturity that he lacked last year. Murray understood that with Baylor stuffing the box that running the ball was always going to be difficult and seemed to take exactly what was given to him and helped the Sooners keep moving the chain against an improved Baylor defense. It sounds simple but it was a big-step for Murray.Last Week: N/A

8. Manuel Johnson, Wide Receiver - Stats: Five catches for 92 yards and one touchdown.
Analysis: The talented wide receiver had one of the better games of his career but still looked lackluster compared to his amazing performance against TCU. Johnson looked primed to follow up his performance with another 150-yard-plus game with a 53-yard touchdown to open the Sooner scoring. However, what he didn't do in yardage he more than made up for in helping many of his Sooner wide receivers, in fact he picked up a penalty for his over exubrant attempt to aid Juaquin Iglesias.Last Week: No. 1

7. Travis Lewis, Linebacker - Stats: Eight tackles (three solo), a half sack (three yards).
Analysis: The talented linebacker, for the first time this season, took a backseat to his linebacker teammates but make no mistake Lewis has gotten to the point that if he is on the field he is having an impact on the outcome of the game. This week his speed will be a major factor as Colt McCoy figures to try and scramble to create some plays with his feet.Last Week: No. 6

6. Trent Williams, Offensive Tackle - Stats: N/A.
Analysis: Williams, just a week after an injury against TCU, re-affirmed himself as almost undoubtedly Oklahoma's best lineman. The big man from Longview, Texas blanketed each and every defensive end that the Bears tried to throw at him. The big offensive tackle opened up cavernous holes on the right side of the line and did his best to keep Sam Bradford's jersey a lighter sahde of cream.Last Week: N/A

5. Brian Jackson. Cornerback - Stats: Three tackles (two solo), one tackle for loss (six yards), two pass break-ups.
Analysis: During the game's broadcast the announcers repeatedly talked about Jackson potentially becoming one of the league's better cornerbacks, and while a few weeks ago that seemed far-fetched; I'm just about to the point of asking 'becoming?'. The talented cornerback always seemed one who could make plays against the run with his great frame but his plays in the vertical passing game have been a pleasant surprise and two pass break-ups continued the momentum that he had picked up over the past few weeks.Last Week: No. 7

4. Juaquin Iglesias, Wide Receiver - Stats: Six catches for 133-yards and one touchdown.
Analysis: Iglesias finally got to have the breakout game that many had expected would be a weekly thing for him. While Iglesias spent the first few games being the focal point of most defenses pass schemes the big plays of Johnson and Ryan Broyles enabled him to make play after play against the Bears secondary. Iglesias gives the Texas defense one more thing to think about with Oklahoma's smorgasbord of weapons.Last Week: No. 10

3. Keenan Clayton, Linebacker - Stats: 14 tackles (11 solo), two tackles for loss (11 yards), one forced fumble, and one sack for nine yards..
Analysis: Welcome to the game of your life Mr. Clayton. It's almost impossible for me to rank him this low considering his performance earned him the co-Big 12 defensive player of the week. However, Clayton and the two players ranked above him could be placed in just about any order and a sound argument could be made for them. If this is a sign of things to come this could be a real change of pace for Oklahoma's defense.Last Week: No. 9

2. Sam Bradford, Quarterback - Stats: 23-for-31 for 372-yards and two touchdowns. Two carries for four yards and one touchdown.
Analysis: Bradford had yet another big day and in spite of a few hiccups along the way he still had over 300-yards and a pair of scores. Bradford also added a score on the ground, a theme that is becoming a trend for the Sooners Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback. The thing that Bradford showed in the game on Saturday was an ability to make plays while on the run, including a beautiful touch pass to Iglesias for a long-score.Last Week: No. 3

1. Ryan Reynolds, Linebacker - Stats: 14 tackles (nine solo), two tackles for loss (three yards).
Analysis:It has taken a few weeks but in the estimation of Sooner defensive coordinator Brent Venables Reynolds played a perfect game on Saturday. The linebacker was perhaps the first in the Stoops coaching tree to grade out at a perfect 100, so how could it be justified that he be ranked anywhere else? Reynolds not only was playing well with his head but also made some big hits and was a constant problem for the Baylor ground game. He may not be as athletic as his two linebacker teammates after his knee problems but he still plays well with his head.Last Week: No. 8

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