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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Q & A: Justin Houston

A lot of people were predicting a big season from Justin Houston, after what he showed as a sophomore, and expecting him to flourish in Georgia's new 3-4 scheme. The junior outside linebacker has done just that, and enters this weekend leading the SEC with nine sacks.

Houston was sporting an Atlanta Falcons jacket after Wednesday’s practice, so of course we started with that.

SE: You a Falcons fan?
JH: No, I just like the jacket.

SE: But you must’ve grorwn up a Falcons fan in Statesboro.
JH: Yeah I did, I liked the Falcons. Especially the year they went to the Super Bowl. It cut me deep, though.

SE: In ’99.

JH: Yeah. They didn’t win.

SE: But that game against the Vikings, who had Randy Moss. That was the upset.
JH: That was a long time, I don’t remember that. (Laughs).

SE: Who do maybe pattern yourself after, an NFL defensive player you looked at and said, I’d like to play like him?
JH: Ray Lewis. I was always a Ray Lewis fan. I just love the way he plays. He plays hard. I think he plays the game the way it should be played. I wish I could play like that sometimes.

SE: If you had a chance to meet him, what would you ask him?
JH: I don’t know. I’d just love to be on the sideline with him on gamedays. I’d just love to see how the team gathers around him and listens to him. They show that man so much respect. I wouldn’t mind being in the huddle with that guy.

SE: Is there anybody else that comes to mind as guys that you’ve looked at as a model?
JH: Not really. As of right now Ijust look at all the great guys, like Demarcus Ware, Dwight Freeney, Jared Allen. All the great D-ends in the league, outside linebacker-type guys.

SE: Do you think you are an outside linebacker whenever you end up in the league?
JH: I think I can play outside. I can play there, and if they want me to put my hand down I can play there too.

SE: There’s a lot of 3-4 defenses springing up around the NFL, do you like the idea of ending up in one of those and replicating what you’re doing here?
JH: To be honest, just to have the opportunity to be in the NFL I’d be happy. So I don’t really care where they put me, I’ll be happy to be there.

SE: How many days a week do you get asked by people whether you’re going to go this year or next year.
JH: Well, lately that question has been popping up quite often. But I tell them I don’t know. I really don’t know. That’s something I really haven’t thought about yet. I don’t plan on thinking about it anytime soon.

SE: A lot of people were projecting this kind of season for you. But has the way it’s turned out still surprised you?
JH: No. I’m still disappointed in myself because I feel like the games we lost, I feel like I could’ve done a lot better. I feel like if I had done a lot better maybe we would’ve won those games. So I’m still disappointed in myself.

SE: What could you have done better?
JH: I could’ve had a sack that changed the game. I could’ve caused a fumble. It’s just the little things I could’ve done, that made a difference, and made a play. I could’ve changed the game around.

SE: How much more, as the season has gone on, have you gotten more attention from offenses, like double teams, maybe even a third guy?
JH: Yeah I’ve been getting it quite often. The chip block, I’ve been getting that in there. They start to motion the tight end to my side, chip block me before he leaves out for a pass. I’ve been getting that quite often lately as the season goes on.

SE: Is that something you think you’re dealing with better?
JH: Yeah I’ve got to learn to deal with it, and do my job. My job is to put pressure on the quarterback, and I can’t let them stop me. So keep going.

SE: How hard is it to go from that to a run play, and adjust your thinking?
JH: Well you’ve gotta read the stances and formation before the play. That pretty much gives me the idea before the snap whether it’s gonna be a run or pass. That’s where studying film comes in.

SE: You talk about Ray Lewis being a fiery guy. But what about coach Grantham. Obviously he got a lot of attention for the choke thing. But you guys have known for awhile he’s a pretty fiery guy.
JH: Yeah he gets the defense going. That’s the thing I like about the guy. He doesn’t let his defense stay down long. We may give up a touchdown but when we get to the sideline we’re gonna talk and discuss what went wrong, and we’re gonna get this defense back up and get up and get going.

SE: Last thing. You’ve got nine sacks. Idaho State has given up about 36. Do you look at a game like this and say, OK this is a chance to pad the total?
JH: (Laughs). No, to be honest with you I just hope we go out and play hard and just play ball. I just wanna go out there and have fun and make plays. I’ve never really looked at a game like that. You can’t take no team like that for granted, you gotta come play every team like it’s your last team to play. You can’t slack off, you gotta play hard.


Anonymous said...


Falcons Super Bowl loss to Broncos was 1998 season, not '99.

Chuck Whittey said...

@Anon, he didn't say the ’98 season, he said "in ’99" ... which is correct.

Even still, why does that really matter? They both knew what they were talking about.