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Houston gets shot at his hometown team.


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Houston gets shot at his hometown team

UGA notebook

The first time Justin Houston steps onto the field at Sanford Stadium for an official game should come against the team he grew up watching.

Houston, a redshirt freshman defensive end, is from Statesboro - home of Georgia Southern.

No. 1-ranked Georgia opens the season against Georgia Southern on Saturday. Houston did not play last season.

"It's very special. It's going to be like a homecoming," Houston said. "Everybody's been calling and trying to get tickets. My family's going to pull for me, definitely. I really didn't think about playing Georgia Southern in the first game at first. But the closer it gets, the more I start to think about it. It's my hometown."

Houston's friends and relatives have been rattling his phone with ticket requests for the Bulldogs' first game.

Houston has seven tickets for his family. Teammates tend to trade tickets among themselves to accommodate family.

"Everybody knows I'm from Statesboro so they're looking out for me," Houston said.

Defensive tackles looking for depth

Georgia might have two starters at defensive tackle. But they don't take every meaningful snap. The Bulldogs use a rotation of at least four but preferably six so playing time is not an issue.

"We don't have to worry about playing time," Corvey Irvin said. "The first two really just start the game. But we rotate every three or four plays so we all get to play."

This season's first four looks a lot like the first four from last season.

Jeff Owens and Geno Atkins start. But Kade Weston and Irvin will check in during the second defensive series at the latest. Irvin had 12 total tackles and seven quarterback hurries in 12 games as a backup last season. Weston had 19 total tackles, two sacks and 16 hurries in 13 games last season as a backup.

Although Georgia seems set on its first four, the next two spots remain open. Ricardo Crawford and Brandon Wood look like they're the top candidates to fill those spots.

"We'd try to go with five but six is really what we'd really like to have," Irvin said. "It helps keep you fresh. If you've got one set of guys that's just dog tired, they can't do anything. But if you've got six guys going strong, then you can win."

Defensive ends get some relief

The hard-pressed defensive ends received some help Saturday as three regulars turned in their non-contact jerseys.

Roderick Battle, Jeremy Lomax and Demarcus Dobbs returned to normal practice jerseys after spending about a week in green non-contact jerseys.

Battle (hamstring), Dobbs (ankle) and Lomax (turf toe) had been restricted to non-contact workouts and were among a string of injuries that defensive ends coach Jon Fabris called the worst he'd seen in his coaching career.

Last season Battle was a starter and Lomax was tied with Dannell Ellerbe for third on the team in sacks with 41/2.

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