Groves Working To Get Into the Groove

Quentin Groves discusses his development after moving to linebacker and the 2004 Auburn football team's defense as well as the task of trying to replace Karlos Dansby and Dontarrious Thomas.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn held its first major football scrimmage of the spring on Saturday and many players got their first chance of the 2004 season to impress the coaching staff with their abilities. One of those players is linebacker Quentin Groves.

A tremendous athlete who was a standout on the scout team last fall, the 6-3, 239-pounder says that he enjoyed his first game-like situation at linebacker for Auburn.

"It was a great experience," Groves says. "It was more of an exam like Coach (Tommy) Tuberville said rather than a scrimmage. We had to see where we were as a defense, as a first-team and a second-team. Hopefully, we will watch the film and get better. Overall I think we did okay, but we messed up on some things. It was a real good experience for me. Lots of contact and things of that nature.

"Towards the beginning I played a little like I was scared, not really scared but uncomfortable being that it's my first big scrimmage at mike," Groves adds. "When I got in the flow of things everything started to settle down for me. I got real comfortable in there and tried to hit the ball whenever I saw it."

A physical player, Groves doesn't shy away from contact, a trait important for a linebacker in the Southeastern Conference. Despite being new to the position last fall, moving from defensive end, he says that he'll always have the mentality of hitting on his mind no matter where he plays.

Quentin Groves chases the ball along with noseguard Josh Thompson.

"There is nothing like it," Groves says. "You hit a man and just take all his pride away from him. You hit him so hard that you take his pride away from him and he doesn't want any more."

Working with the second-team defense on Saturday behind first-teamer Mayo Sowell, Groves is competing for playing time vs fellow middle linebackers Lemarcus Rowell and Kevis Burnam. Groves says the defense as a whole didn't have the concentration during the scrimmage that it needs to be dominant.

"I would say it was more of a lack of focus," Groves says of the offense coming on stronger at the scrimmage after a slow first half. "We thought since we had stopped them so many times that they couldn't throw anything else at us," Groves says. "When they threw something else at us we had to react to it."

Groves and his counterpart have perhaps the toughest job on the team this season in trying to replace Karlos Dansby and Dontarrious Thomas. While the talent is available, coaches Joe Whitt and Gene Chizik have the challenge of finding the right combination of players to put on the field with starter Travis Williams. Groves says they're not trying to replace someone this year as much as find a niche of their own.

"You can never replace Karlos and Dontarrious," Groves says. "They were two one-of-a-kind guys. All you can do is just work to make another player just as good or better than Karlos or Dontarrious. All we can do this spring is sit back and learn from Coach Whitt and Coach Chizik and just get better."

An imposing figure at the middle linebacker position, Groves is the biggest of Auburn's linebackers and was recruited to play defensive end out of high school last year. Despite the position change, Groves says he's happy to be where he's at because that has always been his dream. Now his dream is becoming a reality.

"I've always wanted to play linebacker," Groves notes. "In high school my coach just didn't put me there. I'm real comfortable there now because I like to be in charge and be a leader on the field. This is just like second nature to me."

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