D-Ends Critical in Containing Wallace

Two weeks ago, <I>Inside Texas</I> projected that LDE<B> Cory Redding </B>was due. In fact, over-due.

While his contribution this season has been solid, focused, intense and generally effective, we felt that the Lombardi Award candidate was due to have the kind of breakout game where he was clearly the difference-maker and would serve to establish him as among the NCAA greats at his position.

We conjured that the game would come against Oklahoma, but our "due" date was wrong. The game we were looking for came one week later against Kansas State. Cory Redding’s nine tackles, two sacks, five QB pressures, four tackles-for-losses and one forced fumble are incredible stats but yet fail to do justice to the frenetic, maniacal style of play that he demonstrated at Manhattan last Saturday.

If only you could bottle that tempest and unleash it every Saturday.

Until the Kansas State game, Redding has politely answered questions about why he had no sacks going into the OU game. And while head coach Mack Brown hasn’t been present to "answer for him," Brown has said teams have consistently (if not, primarily) accounted for Redding in their offensive schemes by double-teaming him or running away from him.

If so, it can be argued that the power behind Redding’s throne against the Wildcats was RDE Kalen Thornton, whose re-emergence means that opponents now have nowhere to run. Thornton is expected to start his first game of the season against Iowa State after slowly mending from off-season knee surgery, which means Redding is free to become the whirling dervish in shoulder pads that we saw last Saturday.

"(Thornton’s absence) enabled people to double team Cory or run from him a lot," Brown said, "so we’re glad to get Kalen back out there. I don’t know if he’s 100 percent, but he’s a lot better. We don’t practice him all the time."

Thornton’s sprained ankle during the early non-conference slate impeded his return to the starting lineup, but he returns just in the time to try help contain ISU QB Seneca Wallace.

What we should see with Thornton’s emergence is the kind of consistent pressure on the quarterback that has been missing for much of the season, but was evident against Kansas State.

"He’s a tremendous pass rusher," SLB Lee Jackson said Thursday. "He has some tools that I really haven’t seen since we’ve had Aaron Humphrey. With him and Cory coming off the edge giving the opposing offenses something to worry about on both of those, it helps our defense out a lot. Just Kalen being back out there pumps us up because we know the things he’s been through, with his rehab and how hard it was for him this summer seeing us work-out while he was inside rehab-ing. He’s an inspiration just based on the things he’s been through."

Thornton brings the kind of speed that is needed not only to chase done the likes of Seneca Wallace but also to blow past offensive lineman.

"Kalen is just so quick that he gives you a chance to make plays against a real fast quarterback," Brown said. "After watching him Saturday night, they had to hold him on pass protection (note: the most blatant hold you will ever see by an offensive lineman) where he ran by and the tackle had to grab him and nearly choke him to keep him from getting there."

Thornton also excels in the classroom and is likely to be an Academic All-American.

"His sense is good, and he’s real, real smart," Brown said. "He's a really bright young man."

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