Exciting Defensive End Making Progress

Defensive end Stanley McClover is expected to provide big-play capability to the 2005 Auburn football team's defense.

Auburn, Ala.--Based on spring training, the ability to rush the passer should be a strength of the 2005 Auburn football team.

For head coach Tommy Tuberville, having players like Stanley McClover who can make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks is one of the keys to defensive success in the Southeastern Conference.

Tuberville says he likes what he witnessed from McClover in spring drills and says he expects the defensive end to continue to improve.

"Last year in spring training he was still trying to learn what to do, but this year he was obviously more comfortable out there and more effective," the coach says. "We are expecting him to step up in the fall and be an important part of our defense."

Last season as a backup, McClover won Freshman All-SEC honors with 35 tackles, 7.5 quarterback sacks and four forced fumbles. Based on his performance in spring training, when the offensive linemen had more difficulty blocking him than they did last year, McClover's numbers should improve.

"Stanley has tremendous quickness and can cause a lot of problems for an offense," says offensive coordinator Al Borges, who notes that McClover is one of the quickest defensive ends he has seen throughout his lengthy college coaching career.

"Both Stanley and Quentin (defensive end Quentin Groves) are exceptionally fast and that is good training for our guys to have to face them in practice," Borges says. "That will make us better offensively being challenged by those guys day after day."

McClover says his approach to practice has helped him make major strides as a football player. He is a full speed guy every time he puts on the pads whether it is a game or a spring training workout.

"You have got to have fun when you are at practice," he says with a smile. "You have to be enthusiastic out there if you want to get better as a football player. If you go out there wanting to get better and plan on having fun, everything will be smooth after that."

McClover has excellent acceleration when the ball is snapped and has worked hard on using his hands to deal with big offensive tackles, tight ends or anybody else trying to block him. In the spring, he worked at becoming more physical defending against the run and make progress in that area.

Stanley McClover (75) and Quentin Groves (54) were outstanding backups for the Tigers last year. Both could be in the starting lineup together in 2005.

He is particularly good at rushing the passer, something he did with success on a daily basis during Auburn's 2005 spring practice. "I have been doing a lot of work by myself to get better at it," McClover notes. "I am trying to improve my all-around game. Last season was my first one to play so I am doing everything I can to become a better all-around player."

Auburn's defense definitely did its share in producing a 13-0 record in 2004. McClover says he expects the Tigers to be good on that side of the ball. In spring drills, the signs were there that the defense could be strong in 2005.

"Anytime we are out there flying around and having fun, we generally make a lot of plays and do well on defense," McClover says. "When somebody makes a good play, that pumps up everybody else on our defense."

Even without the three starting linebackers on the field as well as the top two interior defensive linemen for the last half of spring practice, the defense still played well in spring training. McClover says that is a positive sign. "By losing a lot of veterans and still doing good in the practices and scrimmages, that says a lot of good things about our defense," McClover points out. ‘We were still playing well with a lot of young guys out on field."

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