ILBs Have a lot to Learn

ATHENS – It's safe to say Justin Houston is excited about his new role on Georgia's defense.

His job – mainly crushing a few quarterbacks – won't change much, but he's loving the new setting of the 3-4 defense, where he moves to outside linebacker from defensive end.

"It was a good experience to be out there learning what we've got to work on," Houston said of the Bulldogs' first taste of the new scheme last week. "I just have to drop back (into coverage) every now and then. I like to drop back. I get tired of just banging all the time."

Houston admitted he wasn't always fully aware of where he was supposed to be or what he was supposed to do during Day 1 of practice, but he thinks he'll pick up the basics pretty quickly. His teammates playing inside linebacker, however, won't have it quite so easy.

"The inside guy has a lot to learn," Houston said. "The outside guys, to me it's simple. I'm picking it up pretty fast. But the inside guys, Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble, we were talking about it coming off the field that the things they have to learn, they've got a long ways to go."

New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will be coaching the outside linebackers and said their primary role is still to rush the quarterback. The inside linebackers, however, will have an increased presence in the running game, will be required to work in coverage and the Mike linebacker position will essentially be the quarterback of the defense.

"It'll mean more communication, especially from my part," said Gamble, a senior who played middle linebacker for much of the past two seasons. "You've got to be able to see more, get the line and even the DBs adjusted to what's going on in front of us."

It's no surprise then that the two top contenders for the job are Georgia's most veteran linebackers – Gamble and Dent.

"Me and him, we've got a lot of reps under our belt, more than a lot of other guys on the defense," Gamble said. "So it'll be better off hearing it from us than hearing from somebody else that doesn't know a lot about what's going on on Saturdays."

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