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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday in review: Hoops romps, Houston departs

I’m going to try to make something of my Saturday evening in Athens, now that it’s safe to venture out. But before I do, a few thoughts about the events of the day:

- For the Georgia men’s basketball team, last week’s win over Kentucky made more headlines, but the romp at Mississippi may have been more important. Not only was it a road win, the first for the Bulldogs in two years, but it was over the highest-ranked team in the West, according to the RPI.

Before Thursday, you would’ve said Ole Miss was the best team in the West, then it lost at home to Mississippi State. We’ll see how it turns out. But given the toughness of the East – where it looks like even South Carolina might be a factor – it’s imperative for Georgia to rack up as many wins against the West as it can. And to beat one of the division’s top teams on the road, that’s huge.

- The 98 points is the most Georgia has scored in an SEC game since the days of Hugh Durham. (Georgia beat Florida 101-85 on Feb. 22, 1995).

- Colorado is (for now) in the category of quality win for Georgia. The Buffaloes followed up Wednesday’s road upset of Kansas State with a home win against Oklahoma State. It’s only a snapshot, but as of this moment Georgia is 4-3 against top 100 RPI teams, which is an important indicator for the NCAA selection committee.

- Now, as for Justin Houston: After a few weeks of uncertainty, it ended up that Georgia lost the two underclassmen most expected to leave (Houston and A.J. Green) while everyone else came back.

It took until the final day for Houston to announce, but who knows how conflicted he really was. (We haven’t had a chance to speak with the young man yet.) His decision wasn’t cut-and-dry, since Mark Richt was probably right that Houston might have been able to improve his stock during a senior year – but the key word there is “might.”

After racking up 10 sacks as a junior, and being a fourth-year guy, Houston probably figured he was ready as he’ll ever be.

- While Houston’s departure was expected, his loss will still be felt. The Bulldogs are now losing Houston, Akeem Dent, Darryl Gamble and Marcus Dowtin. Those four linebackers started a total of 36 games this year, accumulating 289 tackles, 14 sacks and 32.5 tackles-for-loss.

Luckily for the Bulldogs, they do still have Christian Robinson and Cornelius Washington, while Jarvis Jones and Richard Samuel will both be eligible. Those four guys are the most likely to be the starters as of this moment – Samuel and Robinson on the inside.

Among returning players, there’s also Rueben Faloughi (an outside guy) and Mike Gilliard (inside). T.J. Stripling and Dexter Morant – like Houston a couple DE/OLB flex types, will be factors on the outside if they’re sufficiently recovered from injuries. Stripling, who had a nasty knee injury, could really make a push.

Then there’s the incoming talent: If Ray Drew signs, the Thomas County Central product could see some time at OLB. The team has commitments from Ramik Wilson and Sterling Bailey, who could fit the same DE-OLB role. In the 3-4, it doesn’t matter too much: Houston spent a good deal of his time with a hand on the ground. Amarlo Herrera, the recruit from College Park, is a candidate to play right away on the inside, especially with the diminished depth at that position.

Basically, I expect Todd Grantham and Warren Belin (the ILB coach) to put the best four linebackers out there. So if a freshman or Stripling, Morant or Foulaghi impress enough, that could shift Jones to the inside. We shall see.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, the rich get richer? Houston jolts the dawgs and will turn pro. Jenoris Jenkins, another likely 1st round draft pick, elects to come back to FU. This of course, is after the Savior, Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes spurn the NFL to go after another championship in college. Sarcasm and Cam/Cecil Newton jokes aside, what is it going to take to get our guys to stay four years, when schools like Flordia seem to get their fare share of stars to return?