Kindle, Derry: Got Your 'back

Five-Star freshman SLB Sergio Kindle (finally!) shook off a season-long ankle injury by making his collegiate debut Saturday in Texas' 52-7 romp at Rice. But the linebacker that Texas coaches are really excited about is....

...WLB Scott Derry.

The junior was on the field for 40 of Rice's 49 snaps. He enjoyed his best day as a Longhorn with his seven-tackle performance, including three TFL. He was Texas' second-leading tackler on the day, trailing only SS Michael Griffin and DE Tim Crowder who each posted game-high honors with eight.

"Scott Derry is a name you have to get used to because you haven't heard it a bunch," Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik said Monday. "He was very productive Saturday. He had three tackles-for-losses and some third-down stops. He's a guy that's very smart and under the radar, but he's really, really done a great job for our defense. He's been a lifesaver for the linebacking corps."

Sergio Kindle and Derry add much-needed depth and athleticism to a Longhorn linebacking corps that was considered the team's weakest link during the national championship season; the middle-men have also taken some heat for their erratic performance against Ohio State. The group took a hit when WLB Drew Kelson -- the converted SS is Texas' best cover linebacker -- was injured just three days before the season-opener. But Derry is a utility player who can effectively play all three positions, coaches say.

"That's not easy to do every week," Chizik noted. "He's played really well at all three. He really has. He literally played more snaps than any linebacker I had Saturday. And it wasn't late in the game; it was all the way through. I rotate him in at SAM, then I give the MIKE a break, and then give the WILL a break. Then I bring him back and keep going through it."

Derry has 10 tackles on the year, including one sack, even though he saw little action against the Buckeyes.

"That was my fault, and I told him that," Chizik said. "I should have rotated him some more in that game. But, Saturday, he was our most productive linebacker, for sure."

Derry was a First-Team Texas 5A All-State selection during his senior year at Pearland (2003). He played in all 12 games as a RS-freshman in 2004 as the top backup at MLB. However, he missed the entire 2005 season when he broke his ankle during fall camp.

"He's just a really smart player who keeps getting better and better," Chizik told Inside Texas, on a day in which he tossed very few bouquets to his defense despite the fact the starters held Rice scoreless and limited the Owls to negative-12 yards rushing. "He's just getting better and better and better while flying under the radar, then his injuries came up. But he's got more reps, and more reps, and now you see him playing so well. Now, you see him playing all three positions. He's really come on and has been very productive for us. We're really happy with how well he's come on."

WLB Roddrick Muckelroy is a hard-charger, up-and-comer who has learned on the fly, but Chizik added, "I consider (Derry) a starter. He's earned that right."

Considered the jewel of the 2006 recruiting class, Kindle suffered a high ankle sprain during the second day of August camp. The consensus prep All-American was on the field for eight snaps against the Owls -- all at SAM -- and was credited with an assist.

"He didn't get to play a lot because it was late in the game," head coach Mack Brown said, "but we're going to need him before the year is over. We were going to play him regardless. He's really only had one week of practice."

Kindle, of course, enrolled early last January and participated in spring drills. He was also a fixture during voluntary summer workouts before injuring his ankle during a non-contact drill on August 8.

"We wanted to get him in there (Saturday) and turn him loose to let him start getting some experience," Brown said.

Texas opens Big 12 Conference play against Iowa State, 2:30 p.m. Saturday (CDT), in Austin. The game will be televised regionally on ABC-Sports.

Horns Digest Top Stories