Groves Says Tigers Need Big Heat on Big QB

Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves talks about the challenge of playing against LSU's star quarterback.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves says his Tigers will have to put the heat on LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell on Saturday if AU is going to have success against the high-powered LSU offense.

However, that isn't going to be easy, Groves points out. "I think he throws it as far on the run as he does from the pocket. That is a bad thing for us.

"We have to even up our rush lanes and know which way he is going to roll out and we have to disguise coverages and things that we have to do like that to confuse him and get him rattled early."

With Russell standing at six-foot-six and at listed weight of 260, which is probably short of his real size, Groves realizes that just because you catch the big QB doesn't mean you have sacked him. "I am going after his legs," Groves says. "You have to tackle him low or gang tackle him."

Last year against Auburn, Russell threw 33 passes, completing 16 for 190 yards. The last time LSU lost a game was a 34-14 setback to Georgia in the 2005 SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs put strong pressure on the big QB, sacking him three times, intercepting him once and eventually knocking him out of the game in the second half.

Groves says it will be "real important" to prevent the big QB from sitting back in the pocket with lots of time to find a receiver. "I think if you get Russell rattled then he doesn't perform as well," Groves says. "We have to get to him and knock him down, bat down balls at the line and not give him the big play because that is what he wants, the big play. If we do that we will be okay."

Russell has been very impressive in his first two games this year. He completed 13-17 passes with no interceptions and three touchdowns vs. Louisiana-LaFayette and finished with 253 passing yards. In week two he was 13-20 vs. Arizona for 196 yards with two TDs and one interception.

After watching video of LSU in their twin 45-3 routes of Louisiana-LaFayette and Arizona, Groves says he is impressed. "They haven't missed a beat to me," he says, noting the Bayou Bengals compare very favorably to the team that nipped Auburn 20-17 in overtime. "I think they are faster though."

Quentin Groves (54) will be counted on to put the pressure on the LSU quarterback. Groves has 15 1/2 career sacks.

In addition to Russell, other players stand out to Groves. "Dwayne Bowe is a great receiver," he says. "(Tailback) Justin Vincent is back. You know he is really fast. (Tailback) Alley Broussard is a little bit heavier than what he was. JaMarcus is a bit heavier. The offensive line is a bit quicker from last year."

Even though this is just Auburn's second SEC game and the league opener for LSU, Groves says it is a huge game for Auburn's chances to win the SEC title as well as be a national championship contender.

"I think for the past five or six years this game has shown who has gone to the SEC Championship," he says. "Not to look to the future, but this is a big game. LSU at Auburn is a big game that the whole country watches at 2:30 in the afternoon."

After Auburn won in a rout in 2002 and LSU won in a route in 2003, the last two matchups have been extremely close with AU winning by a single point in 2004 and losing by three in 2005, Groves says he expects that to be the case in 2006.

"We have to pay attention to the little things," he says. "We both have great teams. The thing that separates is one penalty, or one play, or one offsides, or one false step, or one mis-fit, or one missed tackle."

Groves adds that Saturday's SEC battle will be show whether his team is ready to challenge for a championship this year. "This is going to be a big test to see if we are ready."


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