Oklahoma Football: Top 10 Plays of 2011
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Yet another season of college football is behind us. Oklahoma Sooner fans, along with the rest of the college football fanbase, will have to make do with the NFL playoffs as they look ahead to signing day, the spring game and the glorious advent of fall as their beloved program hits the gridiron under the bright lights once again.
OU, despite not fulfilling its lofty preseason expectations, turned in another solid season, earning 10 wins and adding more hardware to the Switzer Center with an Insight Bowl win over Iowa. It was a season worth celebrating with a memorable and satisfying win over Florida State and a stomping of Texas, something that never gets old.
Here are the top 10 plays of the Oklahoma Sooners' season.
No. 10: Ryan Broyles' 64-Yard Touchdown vs. Ball State
Note: Go to the 5:39 point of the video to watch Broyles fly.
It wasn't the most jaw-dropping play, but Broyles' 64-yard scamper against Ball State was his longest play in 2011 and is included to represent his accomplishments over the course of an amazing career in Norman.
Broyles' touchdown against the Cardinals, like so many others in his career, was made possible with incredible speed and an uncanny ability to create space and separation from defenders that made Broyles almost impossible to stop.
Broyles was one of the best Sooners of all time, and he will be missed.
No. 9: Dominique Whaley's 64-Yard Touchdown Against Texas
Note: Whaley's explosive run can be found at 8:20.
Suffocating defense wasn't the only storyline in the Red River Rivalry in Dallas; the Sooner offense sliced and diced the Longhorn D for 453 yards. Junior Dom Whaley had the longest touchdown for OU in a day that saw four Sooner offensive touchdowns.
Midway through the third quarter, showing the Pistol look, Jones handed off to Whaley to the right. Great blocking and pure speed took care of the rest as the walk-on phenom burst down the right sideline, making it look easy as he stormed into the end zone.
It was one of the best plays of Whaley's amazing year that was sadly cut short due to injury. Sooner fans should be excited about the speedster's return in 2012, provided he recovers from his ankle fracture.
No. 8: Jaz Reynolds' 31-Yard One-Handed Touchdown vs. Texas A&M
Reynolds made it look easy against Texas A&M with his one-handed grab, pushing a helpless defender into the end zone with him. The score, which came early in the third quarter, gave the Sooners breathing room, putting them up 20-10 after the extra point.
It was one of multiple one-handed touchdown grabs for Reynolds in 2011; he also snagged a touchdown against Kansas State in style.
No. 7: Tom Wort's Interception vs. Florida State
Wort's athleticism was on full display early in the second quarter against Florida State. The Seminoles were deep in OU territory, down 7-3, when Wort tipped an E.J. Manuel pass and hauled it in, denying FSU points in a relatively low-scoring affair.
The interception reflects the Sooner D's dominance of the Seminoles; FSU only generated 246 yards of offense, with a paltry 27 rushing yards, and turned the ball over three times.
No. 6: Javon Harris' Pick vs FSU
Note: Harris' pick can be found at 3:53.
Harris' nearly took his first of two interceptions against FSU back for six, but instead he had to settle for an impressive 69-yard return that set the Sooners up at the FSU 3-yard line.
OU converted the turnover into three points, which didn't do the play justice. But his interception, like Tom Wort's and his own late in the fourth quarter, was a crucial defensive play in a close game.
No. 5: Demontre Hurst's 55-Yard Pick Six vs. Texas
Note: Hurst's pick can be found at 5:19.
Hurst started the defensive scoring fest against the Longhorns with his satisfying 55-yard interception return of an errant David Ash pass forced by Sooner pressure.
After Ash evaded the blitzing Aaron Colvin, he flung one desperately toward the right sideline, and Hurst jumped it beautifully, bolting down the sideline and picking up key blocks from his teammates as he flew into the end zone.
It was a beautiful example of a team effort. As the pressure forced the poor throw, Hurst made a great read and catch, and the rest of the Sooner D paved the way for his journey to the glorious Crimson and Cream end-zone. The play was a good indicator of what was to come for Texas: an old-fashioned whipping.
No. 4: Trey Millard's 61-Yard Touchdown vs. Kansas State
Note: Go to 8:35 to see Millard's run.
Trey Millard showed why he's so highly regarded in the Sooner offense with his jaw-dropping 61-yard touchdown run to cap off a huge win over Kansas State.
His run evokes memories of Adrian Peterson weaving across the field and outrunning the defense down the sideline, and it's very hard to believe a fullback pulled this off considering the speed and agility demonstrated in the run.
Millard, who earned First Team All-Big 12 honors this season, will shine as long as he dons a Sooner uniform, and the run serves as a celebration of his skills and contributions to the OU offense.
No. 3: Tony Jefferson's Second Interception Against Ball State
Note: Jefferson's second interception can be found at 2:54.
Jefferson had arguably the most astonishing individual feat of the season with interceptions on three consecutive drives against Ball State. He also had a legitimate chance at snaring a fourth.
His incredible one-handed grab on the second drive was the most impressive, but all three were great plays and reflect the sheer athleticism of one of OU's best defenders.
No. 2: Jamell Fleming's 56-Yard Fumble Return Touchdown vs. the Longhorns
Note: Fleming's score can be found at the 9:44 mark.
The 2011 Red River Shootout was a bloodbath thanks largely to the OU defense, which forced five turnovers and outscored the Longhorn offense, 21-10.
Defensive back Jamell Fleming put the exclamation point on the blowout by stealing the ball from receiver Mike Davis and racing 56 yards to put the Sooners up 55-10 with Michael Hunnicutt's extra point.
OU's trouncing of the Longhorns is another highlight of the season, and Sooner fans can savor the victory and the knowledge that the Golden Hat will be in Norman until at least October.
No. 1: Kenny Stills' Go-Ahead Touchdown vs. Florida State
Note: Go to 8:32 to see Stills' heroics.
One of the most memorable wins of the year was OU's triumph over Florida State in Tallahassee, and Kenny Stills made the play of the game.
After a remarkable 56-yard touchdown pass by FSU backup quarterback Clint Trickett to Rashad Greene on 3rd-and 28 tied the game at 13 in the fourth quarter, the Sooners answered beautifully, as Landry Jones hooked up with Stills for a 37-yard touchdown that put OU up for good.
After pumping once, Jones lofted one down to the corner of the end zone, and Stills adjusted beautifully to the under-thrown pass and snagged it over the Seminole defender, falling backwards dramatically.
Despite the disappointing losses down the stretch, this play still shines brightly and evokes the great memories of the clutch victory in prime-time for OU. It will live on in Sooner lore.