Outside linebackers: Rising star Houston leads Grantham’s group

(Eighth in a summer series looking at Georgia’s football team by position.)

TODAY: OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

  • Returning starters: In last season’s 4-3 alignment, Justin Houston started 10 games at defensive end and Darryl Gamble 11 games at middle linebacker.
  • Depth chart: In the new 3-4 defense, there are two outside-linebacker positions — the “Will” and “Sam” linebackers. Houston, a junior, and Cornelius Washington, a redshirt sophomore, will enter preseason practice as the first-teamers.  Reuben Faloughi, a former walk-on who was put on scholarship this spring, is No. 2 behind Houston at “Will.”  Gamble, a senior who moved from inside linebacker to outside late in spring practice, is No. 2 and Chase Vasser No. 3 behind Washington at “Sam.”
  • Key facts: Houston has the credentials of an ascendant star –- second-team All-SEC last season; the SEC’s top returning player in tackles for loss (15 last season) and sacks (7.5); on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation’s best defensive player each season; Georgia’s defensive MVP in spring practice. You get the idea.
  • Key questions: Will Houston be the dominant player the Dogs expect him to be in new defensive coordinator (and OLB coach) Todd Grantham’s pressure-the-QB 3-4 scheme? Will Washington, who seems to be a good fit for the 3-4, thrive in his first shot as a starter?  And will lack of experienced depth at the position prove problematic?
  • Recent developments: The move of Gamble from ILB was a response to the OLB depth concerns, which were exacerbated when Montez Robinson was kicked off the team during the spring.  Three incoming freshmen who arrived this summer –- Brandon Burrows, Dexter Morant and T.J. Stripling –- eventually will help. “Those guys are the body types we think will fit into that role,” said Mark Richt, adding: “I hope we don’t have to rely on [them] as they’re trying to figure it out. Some of them have to grow a little bit physically.”
  • Outlook: Promising … provided Houston, Washington and Gamble stay healthy.
  • Your turn: What say you about the outside linebackers?

————

Links to previous entries in this series:

Inside linebackers.

Defensive line.

Quarterbacks.

Running backs.

Tight ends.

Wide receivers.

Offensive line.

Tomorrow: Defensive backs.

———-

Please follow @ajcuga on Twitter for the latest on the Bulldogs.

125 comments Add your comment

Frank Lane

June 23rd, 2010
6:08 am

The linebackers will be critical to this defense, but the meat is there and they can move. Totally up to coaching now and keeping them healthy. I feel pretty good about inside and outside. It’s the down line that concerns me.

Unfettered autonomy

June 23rd, 2010
6:25 am

If Paulie-Girl Johnson would let the backers trapped into playing at Tech transfer, plenty of help would be on the way. Those poor Tech kids all want to escape the violence and mendacity of The North Avenue Trade School.

What a sad waste of young lives.

destin dawg

June 23rd, 2010
6:36 am

We have the talent.. I’m excited with 3 new & improved coaching talents for a much more aggressive defense… Grantham,. Belin, and Lagatos… the goal as stated ” make UGA a team opponents hate to play” will cause turnovers and it will be nice to have good field position more often

Dawg4life

June 23rd, 2010
7:13 am

http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/amp-top-10-camp-performances-at-qb-81187

Here is the link for the info I posted on the QB review blog. UGA has top 2 spots, Stafford & Murray.

OLBs are going to be the key to this defense. They have to put pressure on the QB. If not, it could be a long year. I think they will be ok though. The one game that worries me at the beginning of the year is the Arkansas game. That is going to be the first true test.

JB

June 23rd, 2010
7:22 am

Key facts: Houston has the credentials of an ascendant star –- second-team All-SEC last season; the SEC’s top returning player in tackles for loss (15 last season) and sacks (7.5); on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation’s best defensive player each season; Georgia’s defensive MVP in spring practice. You get the idea.

One has to like that. Especially that he will now be an even better position to wreak havoc.

HBTD!!!

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

June 23rd, 2010
7:23 am

i think Houston is our key this year- we’ve seen his stuff in the past. Washington should be good- didn’t he do pretty good @ TX A&M?? Congrats to Reuben for getting a scholarship and #2 on the depth chart, the kid has earned it. Let’s hope for an injury free year!!!

south

June 23rd, 2010
7:26 am

Where will Jarvis Jones fit into the picture? or does he have to sit out a year?

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

June 23rd, 2010
7:30 am

Tim- what about Alec Ogletree?? He’s listed as a OLB but i know he can play DB as well. Any chance to on him seeing some playing time?

topdawg70

June 23rd, 2010
7:54 am

South Jarvis has said he is choosing to sit out a year, his neck injury seems to have scared him and rightly so. I think you may see Nick Williams in a Hybrid role a safety who can move up and rush the passer. He will be in the nickel or dime package but really be an OLB who reads keys like a backer and can cover, blitz and tackle. I also believe C Washington is a beast and will be causing teams fits. DB speed DE body playing linebacker!!!

Moosh

June 23rd, 2010
8:01 am

south – topdawg70 is correct. Jarvis could have applied for a waiver to be eligible this year. Not sure if it would have went through or not though. He chose to sit out a year, to let his body fully heal, learn the new 3-4 defense, and get acclimated to athens. He could be used this year, but I think it’s a smart move. He was a huge pickup.

Noisewater – I believe right now Alec is working with the secondary. Many believe he will grow into an LB though.

Moosh

June 23rd, 2010
8:05 am

Houston will be key . I think Washington will have a huge year. People will be focusing on Houston, and with the speed Washington brings, I think he’s primed for a breakout year. He had a few games where he looked great last year, and now that he’s got another year of experience under his belt should be able to be more consistent.

However, I believe the overall key is how quickly the players pickup the 3-4. I think with the new staff will do a much better job with this (and fundamentals) than the previous staff. Can’t wait…

Bremen Dawg

June 23rd, 2010
8:13 am

Enter your comments here

Bremen Dawg

June 23rd, 2010
8:15 am

OLB’s will be great this year. I just think the new staff will have them boys aggressive and tackling machines.

redeployed dawg

June 23rd, 2010
8:19 am

I think Washington will have a breakout year. He is crazy fast and put on a lot of muscle the past couple years.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

June 23rd, 2010
8:20 am

what about Samuel is he anywhere in the linebacker discussion ?

poopdawg

June 23rd, 2010
8:22 am

He was moved to inside LB in spring South GA DAWG.

jason

June 23rd, 2010
8:29 am

Alot of DEs at OLB, alot of speed there also. Is UGA running a 3-4 or

jason

June 23rd, 2010
8:32 am

a 5-3? From a talent stand point LB looks good, but they still have to learn the new defense. LA Tech will be all about winning from pure talent. We all know what USCe brings to the table. As someone mentioned earlier, I am nervous about Arkansas and Ryan Mallet. We will know early on what the defense had learned concerning the new 3-4 defense.

RxDawg

June 23rd, 2010
8:34 am

They should be fine, but injuries could quickly take it’s toll on this group. As people said yesterday, I’m surprised Samuel isn’t listed as an OLB (vs ILB). He’s got to be the fasted LB on the team. I wonder if they try to have taller LB’s in the outside slot. Richt said TJ Stripling was the “body type” for OLB. If I remember correctly, he is pretty tall (6′7ish or something).

Valley Forge mentality is needed

June 23rd, 2010
8:36 am

I have a gut feeling that UGA will need quickly, due to injuries,etc. to have to go with an “us against the world” mentality on Defense and play above and beyond the call of duty. They will be walking wounded all year, I suspect.
With coaching and a positive attitude and a general macho toughness however, they can get it done, until the baby pups can add some bulk and learn the system. All schools now are faced with low numbers at some or many positions.

At UGA, like most schools ………….. you have to go with what you have.

Coach em up ……….new D guys.

Go Dogs.

1eyedJack

June 23rd, 2010
8:38 am

Of course Houston will be very important in the overall success of this new defense, however I believe that Reuben Faloughi will come up big this year as his backup. That boy’s got “want to”.

JMLDawg

June 23rd, 2010
8:48 am

Tim:
Whatever happened to Charles White, a linebacker from Augusta who was recruited about 3 years ago? I know he had some injury problems in the past, but I never see his name mentioned anywhere. He seemed to be a pretty good kid coming out of high school. Any insight?

1eyedJack

June 23rd, 2010
8:51 am

Charles White, I think, is the 3rd or 4th Fullback.

Paddy

June 23rd, 2010
8:58 am

So Ga Dawg….Samuel moved to inside and at last report is not in the top 1-2 rotation. But he will be sooner than later.

Our LB group looks strong to me. Good year to go to the 3-4.

Von Van Halanger is a clown.

June 23rd, 2010
9:12 am

UGA players need to be more athletic to win championships , As Pat Dye once said ” Dawgs need to man up ! ” .

Tom

June 23rd, 2010
9:22 am

Demetre Baker was ranked top 25 OLB in country. Great Sr. year, 1000 yards rushing, 70 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions. 15 TD’s. He’s a great athlete, small at 6 0, but fast and great athlete.

ARdawg

June 23rd, 2010
9:29 am

I think it’s a hellva line-up and finally a defense we can look forward to watching. The new coaching blood (not to mention Grantham is a name all his own), the new scheme with the attack mentality, the added linebackers and solid guys guys in the positions. Yes injuries could be a problem but, they can be a problem to any team at any time.

I feel good about these Dawgs and I feel good about Murray at the helm. He’s got some learning to do and it’s going to come with mistakes. Hopefully, none to cost us a game but it is likely. He’s going to be a fine QB and I really look forward to watching this defense mature in the heat of battle.

GO DAWGS

Tom

June 23rd, 2010
9:31 am

Like the size/speed of the the guys coming in. Any of thes guys could play OLB. You got:

Jalen Fields, 6 5, 250, ranked #18 OLB in country
Dexter Morant, 6 5, 240, Fla & Tenn wanted him bad
TJ Stripling, 6 6, 215, #4 ranked DE in country

AltamahaDawg

June 23rd, 2010
9:34 am

Being more athletic is always a good ideas when participating in sports.

Tim Tucker

June 23rd, 2010
9:36 am

Answering some of the questions above: Alec Ogletree is working this summer at safety, although LB is considered a possibility down the road. Samuel moved from OLB to ILB early in spring practice. Baker is working at ILB. White is No. 4 on the depth chart at fullback. Jarvis Jones has said he’ll sit out this season.

Tom

June 23rd, 2010
9:41 am

Houston’s a lock at one OLB with his 15 TFL’s and 7.5 sacks in 10 games. Might be the best in the SEC this year.

I’d love to see Alec Ogletree get in there and mix it up on the other side of Houston. Alec was the #1 ranked defensive player in the nation last year. Although he likely wants to stay at safety, Georgia is pretty solid at safety right now, and needs another speed rusher and cover guy to compliment Houston. If Ogletree’s willing to play OLB this year, he’ll shoot up the depth chart and will get a chance to see what he can do on the field. We can’t red-shirt the #1 defensive player in the country–let’s use him NOW.

Tom

June 23rd, 2010
9:44 am

I guess Georgia could put Ogletree at safety, and move one of the safeties over to OLB. This guy needs to be on the field, immediately. He’s the best safety Georgia’s brought in, in a while, I’m sure Lakatos is eager to see him in his secondary and doesn’t want to lose him to OLB.

Tom

June 23rd, 2010
9:56 am

I don’t get the whole Cornelius Washington thing. He was in 13 games last ya,r had 4 sacks and a few QB hurries. He was one of the stars of Georgia Spring combine, fast, strong, could be why Georgia’s so high on him:
http://ugadogsblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/georgia-spring-combine-results.html

Demetre Baker had 100 yards rushing and 15 td’s on about 120 carries. Not many LB’s are that kind of athlete.

Tom

June 23rd, 2010
9:57 am

1000 yards on 120 carries, 15 TD’s (not 100 yards).

Tom

June 23rd, 2010
10:09 am

Phil Steele has Georgia LB as #11 LB unit and he’s big on Gamble, Steele has Gamble ranked as his top 30 LB. Gamble’s had 100 tackles in the last 2 years at Georgia. Gamble blocked 6 kicks his Sr. year in High School. You’d have to think Houston will have an All-American year, the question is who will be on the other side, and be just as feared. Georgia has experience at OLB, so should be a stellar year for this unit.

BG

June 23rd, 2010
10:14 am

Those guys are all beasts!!

destin dawg

June 23rd, 2010
10:20 am

Zander Ogletree is a football player… he’s small but… i think like Curran ??? he”ll surprise as LB and special teams.. where we need to improve.. Kick coverage this year please !!!!!

Dawg fan

June 23rd, 2010
10:20 am

PREDICTION….This edition of UGA football will catch the eye of every national sports reporter, coach, and team. The reporters will be amazed at their play and the coaches and teams will fear what they see.

Sid

June 23rd, 2010
10:23 am

Tim-

Do we know yet where Morant, Fields & Stripling will be practicing? DE or OLB?

My guess is Stripling’s too small to play this year, 215 lbs, I’d think Morant & Fields might get a shot.

Heard anything yet?

Sid

June 23rd, 2010
10:28 am

Faloughi’s 6′ 5”, and has a 35 inch vertical. You have to like that.

AltamahaDawg

June 23rd, 2010
10:31 am

From what I’ve seen of Grantham’s system, Safety (Ogletree) will be no stranger to the grass stains normally associated with an OLB anyway.

BigCaliDawg

June 23rd, 2010
10:31 am

Faloughi is huge.

We might have to play a couple of those Freshman OLB’s and just shirt ‘em next year. Depth won’t be bad, but we have parts that fit this year that didn’t last year. New names for sure

It’s a good time to be a 1st, or 2nd year player for the DAWGS, and Lord do we have talent.

GATA

Tim Tucker

June 23rd, 2010
10:33 am

Sid: Morant and Stripling are working at OLB. Fields didn’t qualify academically; he hopes to transfer to UGA after two seasons at Georgia Military College.

BigCaliDawg

June 23rd, 2010
10:34 am

Oh yeah…..there are 2 Ogletree’s. One is a DB and one is an LB, but are they the same year, or a year apart?

Are we gettin’ em mixed up?

BigCaliDawg

June 23rd, 2010
10:36 am

HBTD!!!

HAHA! Yessir!

gdawginkalamazoo

June 23rd, 2010
10:43 am

BigCali, not one is Alec and the other is Zander. Both great athletes bit Zander is about 5′9″ or 5′10″ tall. People knock his height but not his heart.

Sid

June 23rd, 2010
10:44 am

Thanks Tim. Too bad about Fields.

Great news that Morant & Stripling are both working at OLB. Stripling has 21 sacks–at his weight, kind of light right now, probably going to be red-shirted. Like to see Morant get in there and give it a go.

Morant & Stripling probably means Georgia’s feeling solid about DE, also probably means Ogletree will be staying at Safety.

Sid

June 23rd, 2010
10:49 am

Dexter Morant is impressive.

6′ 7”, 240 pounds.

180 tackles in last 2 years, 45 for loss, 19 sacks.

The guy had 80 tackles as a Soph in High school, 17 for loss.

Sid

June 23rd, 2010
10:54 am

TJ Stripling, how did we get this guy?

6′ 6”, 215.

In last 2 years, 200 tackles, 40 tackles for loss, 36 sacks.

Ranked #3 pass rusher in country.

How2fish

June 23rd, 2010
10:56 am

Von Van Halanger is a clown when Dye uttered those words we went out and blew up Bama that week..wish we could get him to talk all the time.