September 1, 2008

Sooner Hot 11: Chattanooga

The wait is finally over, no not for football that happened days ago. It's time for the Sooner Hot 11! While the play of the Mocs offered little resistance to Oklahoma's immensely talented 2008 squad there was no doubt that the Sooners came out with business on their mind rather than taking to the reality that they were playing a championship subdivision team like so many of their other top-ranked contemporaries fell victim to. Take a look as another season means the start of ranking the Sooners best 11 players each Saturday!

11. Ryan Reynolds, Linebacker - Stats: 6 tackles (three solo).
Analysis: Compared to many of the other players on this list Reynolds had something of a quiet night, but in his first run as Oklahoma's latest MIKE linebacker he rarely was out of position and made the plays that were asked of him. Unfortunately for his stat line there wasn't much from Chattanooga that was getting through the Sooners front four. Next season Cincinnati should be a much better test of just how ready he is to lead the defense.Last Week: N/A

10. Keenan Clayton, Linebacker - Stats: Four tackles (two solo), 1.5 tackles for loss (two yards).
Analysis: It seems that so few have talked about Clayton's performance on Saturday night but it only seems like a furthering of his performance throughout the summer. Many got so comfortable with Clayton's talents at strongside linebacker it's already been taken for granted. Clayton is an aggressive linebacker and made a couple of plays behind the line of scrimmage on Saturday night. As more teams start trying to throw the ball against Oklahoma Clayton's role in the defense will become even more vital.Last Week: N/A

9. Joey Halzle, Quarterback - Stats: 14-for-16 for 122 yards and one touchdown.
Analysis: I almost had to add Halzle in something of a tribute to Bob Stoops who I said all week I didn't think would work his back-up quarterback into the equation, but he did all of that and more. He not only got Halzle valuable playing time but he didn't have Halzle simply handing off to whatever back-up running back had joined him in the backfield, he had him throwing the ball and it seems that Josh Heupel had his back-up quite ready to go. Last Week: N/A

8. Chris Brown, Running Back - Stats: 14 carries for 63 yards and three touchdowns.
Analysis: Brown never seems to have the incredible highlight reel runs of his former recruiting classmate, Demarco Murray, however one skill of his that is unsurpassed is his nose for the end zone. Brown again found the end zone three times. While it isn't always pretty from Oklahoma's No. 2 running back it's almost always effective.Last Week: N/A

7. Juaquin Iglesias, Wide Receiver - Stats: Four catches for 73 yards and one touchdown.
Analysis: Early in the game it looked like maybe Iglesias was going to suffer from Malcolm Kelly syndrome and suffer from the defense focusing their attention on him and watch his teammate, Manuel Johnson, flourish. However, as the game wore on Iglesias found his niche and had the game's longest catch on his 36-yard touchdown score from Joey Halzle. Iglesias is still a massive threat in the open field but looks like he'll be used more vertically this season.Last Week: N/A

6. Dominique Franks, Cornerback - Stats: Two solo tackles, three pass break-ups.
Analysis: With a bit of luck it's entirely possible that Franks could have been sitting at the top of this list with a couple of pick sixes to his name. Franks plays corner in an aggressive manner that hasn't been seen in Norman since the graduation of Derrick Strait. Perhaps that's a large mantle to lay at the feet of the sophomore defender but there is simply no better comparison at this point in time than the former Jim Thorpe award winner.Last Week: N/A

5. Sam Bradford. Quarterback - Stats: 17-for-22, 183 yards and two touchdowns.
Analysis: It's almost scary to think what kind of night Bradford could have had if he was running his offense at full capacity or was allowed to play 'real' football for more than a quarter and a half. Bradford may not have been facing top flight competition but he was on point with his passes to a degree that even high-quality division one defenses would have struggled to contain him. Simply put don't look for any sophomore slump out of Bradford he looked primed for another huge season.Last Week: N/A

4. Demarco Murray, Running Back - Stats: 15 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Analysis: There really just couldn't have been a more perfect situation for Murray to come into. Not only was he returning from injury but he had a great line blocking a unit that was severely overmatched and had time to pick and choose his holes. Murray showed a bit of rust on some of his runs, including missing a cut back lane that would have been a sure touchdown where he was instead pushed out at the one. However, that will fade away in time.Last Week: N/A

3. Manuel Johnson, Wide Receiver - Stats: Nine catches for 120 yards, one touchdown.
Analysis: After a quarter of play Johnson was the clear cut favorite to be the top player on this list but his drop down had little to do with any drop in his performance but moreso a jump in the two players ahead of him. Johnson made one catch after another but as always it was what he did after the catch that made him the most lethal. A lot of people have taken Johnson for granted but Saturday night proved defensive coordinators shouldn't do the same.Last Week: N/A

2. Gerald McCoy, Defensive Tackle - Stats: Five tackles (two solo), 1.5 tackles for loss (two yards), .5 sacks (one yard).
Analysis: The former five-star recruit officially introduced himself to college football on Saturday. Sure he had some quality games last season and showed flashes of brilliance but not since his days at Southeast high school has he so consistently dominated his blockers. He wasn't facing the best of competition from the first play of the game McCoy was in the backfield almost as quickly as the quarterback could receive the ball. So let me be the first to say 'hello, Gerald McCoy, welcome to the beginning of star status'. Last Week: N/A

1. Auston English, Defensive End - Stats: Six tackles (three solo), four tackles for loss (21 yards), 2.5 sacks (19 yards).
Analysis: Well if he defensive line mate was stating his intentions to the college football world English was simply reintroducing himself to the nightmares of quarterbacks around the country. English was simply unblockable against the Mocs. The thing that perhaps stood out the most was English's progression as a run defender after spending much of last year as a pass rush specialist. There is still a long way to go but English put himself in position to start thinking about the Sooners season sack record.Last Week: N/A

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