June 21, 2010

Whatever it takes

Justin Houston hasn't set any individual goals for the upcoming football campaign - just whatever it takes.

Then again, if "whatever it takes" means putting up some impressive sack totals this fall, that's just what he's going to try to do.

"I haven't set any individual goals, really. All my goals are team goals. I just want to win, that's what I want to do," said the 255-pound junior from Statesboro. "But if it takes me to get 15 sacks for us to win, then I'm going to get 15 sacks."

Such numbers might not as outlandish as one might believe.

Last year, Houston led the Bulldogs with 7.5 sacks and 18 quarterback pressures in just 10 games as a defensive end in the 4-3. Now, as a Will linebacker in the 3-4 where his primary duty will be to bring down as many quarterbacks as possible, 15 sacks might well be in the realm of possibility.

"In this defense there's definitely going to be more pressure put on the quarterback," Houston said. "Plus, I'm a stand-up guy so I should be able to rush more."

It's no a coincidence that Houston picked out the No. 15.

In 2002, former Bulldog All-American David Pollack said the Georgia single-season record with 15 sacks and is one of 11 former Georgia players to reach double-digits in that statistical category.

Whatever happens, Houston is more concerned about being the best that he can be.

It didn't take him long to find great favor with new defensive coordinator and position coach Todd Grantham.

The feeling is mutual.

Although he - like the rest of Georgia's defenders - have only worked with Grantham in the spring, Houston said he's already picked up little tricks in regards to technique that will help make him a better player than he was a season ago.

But as far as remembering all plays that Grantham force-fed the defense during spring, well, Houston admitted remembering them all hasn't been that easy to do.

"I've probably forgot a couple of them," he laughed. "But everything is still running smooth for the most part."

Although many expect Houston to benefit greatly from the Bulldogs' new scheme, Sam linebacker Cornelius Washington is another player he expects to take a huge jump this fall.

The 6-4, 260-pounder definitely opened some eyes when Georgia's summer combine times had him running the 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds.

"I knew he was fast but I didn't know he was that fast. It definitely caught me off guard," Houston said. "I wasn't there when he ran it and I didn't believe it was true. But I asked the coaches, and they said it was true, so yeah, I can see him being a break-out guy. I see him helping us in many ways. I hope he does."

Summer workouts are going according to plan.

According to Houston, most of the sessions focus primarily on technique and set-up as opposed to actually attempting to run specific plays.

Houston has plenty of company.

Along with Washington, Reuben Faloughi, Chase Vasser and Darryl Gamble, freshmen Brandon Burrows, Dexter Morant and T.J. Stripling help make up the group currently working out at inside linebacker.

Freshman Demetre Baker is working with the inside linebackers.

"It's still too early to tell how they might do but all of them are working hard," Houston said of the freshmen.

"I just tell them to keep working hard. It's going to be as smooth as it was in high school," Houston said. "I've told them whatever they do, don't quit."

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