Caldwell's Monday Morning QB Column: Groves Gone Too Soon, Auburn Football At The Halfway Point

Remembering Quentin Groves, areas of improvement for the Auburn Tigers, underclassmen production and softball thoughts.

Remembering Quentin Groves

When the news came out early on Saturday morning that former Auburn pass rush specialist Quentin Groves had passed away it hit me like a ton of bricks. Guys that looked like Groves and had that energy and enjoyed life as much as he did aren’t supposed to be gone at the age of 32.

It also got me thinking back to when he signed with Auburn out of Mississippi. One of the country’s top pass rushers and a terrific athlete, Groves’ decision came down to Auburn and Mississippi State. Choosing the Tigers and saying it was the best decision he ever made, Groves put a lot of faith in Chette Williams and the FCA program at Auburn and that was always important for him. Even before he signed with the Tigers he knew what he was looking for and he found that on the Plains.

"The main thing I'm looking for is a spiritual coordinator," Groves told Inside The AuburnTigers. "If they don't have a spiritual coordinator then I might as well get back on the plane and go home. The second thing I'm looking at is the coaches, the players and the fan base. If I feel comfortable at the school when I get off the plane then the school has a real good chance of getting me."

From the time he arrived until the day he passed away, Groves always had a special place in his heart for Auburn and he will be missed.


Second Half Improvements

Coming off a bye week the Auburn Tigers get back to work this week as Gus Malzahn’s team prepares for the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday evening at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

While there are plenty of areas where the Tigers have improved greatly since last season, there are still phases of the game that need improvement starting with ball security. Tied for 96th in the country with six fumbles lost already, Auburn has to do a better job of protecting the football down the stretch.

The only positive that comes from that is that more fumbles usually mean more running plays, which usually equates to success on the ground. Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson and Louisville are just some of the teams below the Tigers in lost fumbles so it shows not all is lost when you are putting the ball on the turf.

Auburn’s defense has shown the ability to make more plays this season, but continuing to create negative plays is still a concern. Despite Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams and Marlon Davidson doing their part, the Tigers have just 35 total tackles for losses in six games. That is just 5.8 per game, which puts Auburn tied for 71st in the country.

While it isn’t always a sign of winning football games, tackles for losses definitely is a stat to watch for when you consider Michigan, Texas A&M, Clemson, Baylor, Washington and Alabama are all in the Top 20 in that category this season.

Rounding out a needed area for improvement is the need to create more turnovers defensively. Currently tied for 84th in the nation with eight turnovers created, the Tigers can look at the last two weeks to see what a difference it makes in games. Creating five turnovers in wins over ULM and Mississippi State, including the first defensive touchdown of the season, helps the offense get untracked and the overall morale of the team.


Youth Is Served

Something that is interesting to look at is just how many young players are producing for this Auburn offense through the first six games of the season. In terms of rushing stats, freshmen and sophomores have accounted 1,337 of the 1,577 yards on the ground this season (85 percent). When you throw in John Franklin’s 217 yards and Daniel Carlson’s 20-yard touchdown that’s all but three total rushing yards this season by non-seniors.

Obviously at quarterback Sean White’s total of 1,187 yards is a huge percentage of the total this season (91.4 percent). At wide receiver Tony Stevens big year has slanted that more towards the upperclassmen, but freshmen and sophomores have still made 65 of Auburn’s 102 catches this season (63.7 percent) with four of the seven touchdowns.

While the Auburn defense has gotten a ton of credit for the season so far, and rightfully so, the future’s pretty bright on offense for this group of Tigers based on what we have seen so far this season.


Softball Thoughts

Coach Clint Myers has brought a different feeling to the Auburn softball program in his three seasons and the winning has created an environment that has fans not only coming to games in the fall but also to watch practices. If you want to understand why the Tigers have won and won big under Myers then I would suggest going out and watching the team on the practice field sometime.

To say it’s non-stop would be an understatement, but the focus on defense and situational play was rapid fire with ground balls on the infield going in all directions and players jumping in to take their reps. Watching Corey Myers coaching up the infield defense in between reps and teaching showed me how much they want every player to improve because it wasn’t just focused on the starters or older players.

In batting practice they have two pitchers pitching to two different hitters at the same time with a screen in between the batters and running to the circle to divide the diamond. That allows the players to get in twice and many swings under the watchful eyes of the coaches while others are rotating in the cages, working on defense, or other fundamentals.

With a brutally tough schedule coming up next spring this Auburn team may suffer a few losses along the way, but based on how they’re working on the field the Tigers will once again be a team to be reckoned with on the national stage.

Subscribe To

Get Inside The Auburn Tigers Magazine and Newsletters

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories