A Welcome Change For Groves And AU Defense

Auburn's Quentin Groves talks about the spring to this point and his new job under coordinator Will Muschamp.

Auburn, Ala.--When Quentin Groves first arrived on the Auburn campus he was a speedy defensive end that was quickly given a look at middle linebacker because of his size. Now three seasons later that training may just come in handy as Groves is moving all around in Coach Will Mushchamp's defense.

Playing end as well as some linebacker as the Tigers shift from 4-3 to 3-4 alignments and everything in between, Groves said that he's enjoying the spring to this point even with his new responsibilities within the framework of the defense.

"We're putting in our base 3-4 stuff," Groves said. "On a lot of stuff I drop and on a lot of stuff I rush. You never know depending on the play call. It still feels kind of awkward because I haven't had to really bend my hips or move that much. I'm getting kind of used to it. I played middle linebacker when I first got here so it's kind of my old stomping grounds without any of the responsibilities you could say."

Quentin Groves has taken over as one of the leaders on Auburn's defense this spring.

When Gene Chizik left just over one year ago to coach at Texas, Coach Tommy Tuberville hired David Gibbs with the intention of keeping the defense intact for the 2005 season. While it worked good enough for the Tigers to reach nine wins, it wasn't the fit that Tuberville wanted. This time around with Muschamp Tuberville talked about keeping things the same, but already it has been obvious that this defense will take on a lot of the personality that the fiery 34-year old brings to the game.

Cutting his teeth on the blitzing and aggressive defenses of Bill Oliver and Nick Saban, Muschamp has Auburn's defense attacking and Groves said that's very different from what they did last season.

"I think today we added six new blitzes on top of the blitzes we added last week," Groves said. "It has changed a lot. The terminology is different. The only thing that hasn't changed is the alignments of the fronts. That's about it. Other than that all the terminology has changed. Everything has changed as far as how we blitz, how we come off the ball, how we strike people, all that has changed.

"It's fun and difficult," Groves added on the new style of play this spring. "It's fun because the offense doesn't know where you're coming from, who's coming, which way to slide the protection, whether to big protect or keep a tight end in, that's the fun part. The difficult part is getting it all down and knowing your job and doing your job. It's kind of hard because you get three or four or five blitzes thrown at you every day and you have to go out and execute them. It's just more of the mental part that we have to take on as players."

Almost to the halfway point of the spring the Auburn defense has shown the ability to create turnovers, something they didn't do in 2005 under Gibbs. Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite continued to impress with another interception while Groves got into the act as well on Tuesday with an interception on a screen pass that he took for a score. He said that he was tipped off by the offensive personnel and just reacted to his keys to make the play.

"It was kind of a dead giveaway," Groves said. "Any time you have Courtney and Tre Smith and Brad Lester in the backfield at the same time that's a dead giveaway. They hit us with a screen Sunday for a touchdown. I knew they were going to come back to it. Once I saw Antwoin Daniels set and Brandon Cox re-set I knew it was a screen and I had to get out of there. I just had to locate the ball."

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