Groves Looking To Step Up As Big Play Man

Quentin Groves is making strides as a backup defensive end for the Auburn defense.

Auburn, Ala.--After spending last season redshirting as both a defensive end and linebacker, Quentin Groves has spent most of his time in 2004 in the opposing teams' backfields in 2004 as a defensive end.

In reserve action Groves has 2.5 sacks on the year, good for second on the team behind Stanley McClover, which he contributes to his speed coming off the corner.

"There's only one person on the front seven who's faster than me and that's Montavian Collier," Groves says. "I pride myself on being faster than them. Me and Stanley have yet to race though, but as far as A.T. (Williams) and Travis (Williams), the clock doesn't lie."

Groves says that strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall hand-timed him at 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash this summer.

"He's talking too much now," Antarrious Williams says. "Somebody's blown his head up just because he got a little sack Saturday. For real, Quentin ran a faster time than me this summer. He was one of the fastest linebackers we had when he played linebacker."

Groves played middle linebacker in the spring, but moved back to defensive end during preseason.

Groves likes to compare himself to current Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jevon Kearse. "It's a little something me and Ronnie Brown have going," Groves says. "He calls himself Deion. I call myself The Freak."

Kearse got his nickname of The Freak because of his athletic ability while playing linebacker and defensive end for the Florida Gators from 1996 to 1998. While Groves is certainly a gifted athlete, he has a long way to go before the nickname will stay with him.

"I was talking to Quentin yesterday during the game and I told him that he had something special," Williams says. "He has to get better and better every day and every week. He's only a freshman right now and I told him he's got to keep working. He's an all right player right now, but the sky is the limit for him.

"We're really counting on him to give us some good quality reps and he's done well so far," he adds. "He could be even better than he is right now, and I told him just needs to keep on working. He could become The Freak off the edge because he has 4.4 speed. I don't know any other D-ends with 4.4 speed."

Despite Groves' obvious show of confidence, the redshirt freshman says that he is happy with his role on the 2004 Auburn defense as a backup behind other talented players.

"I'm just looking to help the defense anyway I can," he says. "I'm just looking to make this defense better. We still have a large stepping-stone to get over to get to where we want to be. Wherever coach needs me, I'll be there. If it's playing three-technique or noseguard to get more speed on the field, I'll be there.

"Everybody on our defense has had to change positions at some point," he adds. "Travis Williams had to go from will to middle, Junior Rosegreen had to go from safety to corner to safety and Kevin Hobbs switching between safety and corner. With me, it's just wherever I can fit in."

Groves and the rest of the defensive ends will have a tough task Saturday against Arkansas of keeping containment on quarterback Matt Jones and stopping the running of tailbacks DeCori Birmingham and De'Arrius Howard.

"Matt Jones is a great quarterback," Groves says. "He makes so many things happen outside of the pocket as well as inside the pocket. You have to respect him as a rusher as well as a passer.

"We just have to read our keys," he adds. "That just goes along with film watching. If you notice a tackle is sitting light, or if a tackle is thinking a 1000-1 count then release--you've just got to use your eyes."

Against Louisiana Tech, Groves had three tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. But Groves wasn't the only Auburn defender in the backfield against the Bulldogs, as the defense tallied nine sacks on the afternoon.

"It's always a lot of fun when you're getting to the quarterback," he says. "Saturday was extremely fun since we were doing it as a team defense. It wasn't just one person being dominant. It was the team. Travis was putting on pressure, Andrew Letts had a sack, it's just a lot of fun when the whole team is involved."

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