June 27, 2010

Position Breakdown: Outside linebacker

One thing Georgia defensive players learned in a hurry about defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is that he expects results.

This is particularly true of those who work directly under the coach at outside linebacker.

If Grantham thinks there's a problem - due to depth or production - he's not afraid to move players around to find the correct fit, much like he did with senior Darryl Gamble who switched to outside linebacker from inside midway through the spring.

"Our whole deal is about production. The guy that produces and makes plays and gives us the best chance to win are the guys we are going to put on the field," Grantham said recently. "To do that, sometimes you've got to move guys around to see what they can do and see where play best. Either way we're going to play the best players come September."

Here's how it shakes down.

As UGASports continues its summertime series breaking down each position for the Bulldogs, we take a look at outside linebacker where Justin Houston and Cornelius Washington could both be in for huge years.

Despite missing two games due to suspension, Houston still led the Bulldogs with 7.5 sacks. With Grantham promising a more aggressive attack, don't be surprised if Houston approaches double-digits this fall.

Washington could post some equally impressive numbers as well.

According to the figures released from Georgia's post-spring combine, Washington ran the 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds. While some have questioned the validity of the time, there's no question that at a sculpted 260 pounds, Washington has the potential to give Georgia one of the better OLB duos in the entire league.

Gamble and Reuben Faloughi will figure into the mix as well.

Midway through spring, Grantham decided to move Gamble from the inside to outside, largely because of depth following the dismissal of Montez Robinson.

A former walk-on, Faloughi was awarded a scholarship back in late March and Grantham said he anticipates the former Evans standout making an impact in a backup role.

"Reuben's got a linebacker's body. He's got some strength in his hands and he's very conscientious. He improves every day on the things we ask him to improve upon," Grantham said. "He does a good job of setting the edge on the running game on the tight end and he's shown some pass rush skills in individual drills."

Redshirt freshman Chase Vasser is over his hamstring issue and is slated to back up Gamble and Washington at Sam, while the Bulldogs will take a long look at incoming freshmen Brandon Burrows, T.J. Stripling and Dexter Morant to provide additional depth.

Redshirt sophomore Jeremy Longo has battled injuries for most of the past two years and will need to get healthy before he can start figuring into the mix.

Will Linebacker
42 Justin Houston 6-3 255 Junior
95 Reuben Faloughi 6-5 240 Redshirt Freshman
41 Brandon Burrows 6-3 245 Freshman
44 TJ Stripling 6-6 220 Freshman
Dexter Morant/db] 6-7 240 Freshman
53 [db]Jeremy Longo 6-3 253 Redshirt Sophomore

Sam Linebacker
83 Cornelius Washington 6-4 260 Redshirt Sophomore
50 Darryl Gamble 6-2 255 Senior
33 Chase Vasser 6-3 225 Redshirt Freshman

Will Gamble stay at outside linebacker or might be move back inside?

According to Grantham, Gamble will stay at outside unless injuries dictate otherwise. The senior is Georgia's most versatile linebacker and is equally effective playing the run and pass.

How many sacks will Houston and Washington combine for?

Houston said recently that he's not setting any goals, but indicated if Georgia needed him to get 15 to win, then 15 is what he'll get. We'll see about that, but don't be surprised if Houston collects 10 or so. Washington could approach similar numbers as well.

Of the freshmen, who will make the biggest impact?

Although it may be a bit early to predict this for sure, we'll go with Burrows who has battled all the way back from a torn ACL, and from early reports, is making a quick impression with upperclassmen during summertime drills.

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