Groves: It's Mano a Mano Vs. Razorbacks

Auburn junior defensive end Quentin Groves talks about playing the Razorbacks this Saturday morning.

Auburn, Ala.--Since 1998 when Houston Nutt became head coach at Arkansas through four games of the 2006 season, the Razorbacks are leading the SEC in rushing during that time span with an average of 184.3 yards per game.

This year is no exception as Arkansas averages an SEC-best 187.8 yards, which is 15 more than second in the conference, Auburn.

"You know what you're going to get when it comes to Arkansas," says Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves. "Everybody in the country knows it's smash-mouth, down hill, let's run and let's get physical.

"It's their man against our man and that's all it is. It's really a statement game of who wants it more. They're undefeated in the SEC right now, we're undefeated in the SEC."

The Tigers come into the contest with a 5-0 record, 3-0 in the SEC and holding steady in the major polls at second in the AP ranking and third in the coaches and Harris polls. Arkansas, at 3-1 overall with a season-opening loss to Southern Cal, is the only other Western Division team without a conference loss.

While Arkansas and Auburn are one and two in the league rushing as a team, they also boast the top two individual runners in the league in Darren McFadden and Kenny Irons.

Is McFadden the best back the Tigers will face this season?

"Probably, for the simple fact of his size and speed," Groves says. "To be that big and to run that fast is kind of unheard of. He has great speed. Exceptional speed. Even on film he looks fast. It's something that he has. Any time you win the 100 and 200 in your state before you even get to college you're fast at 225 pounds."

Also a big part of the offense is backup Felix Jones, who is averaging 8.4 yards a carry and 110.5 all-purpose yards per game.

"Felix Jones, number 25, and the little freshman from Florida, #21 (Michael Smith), they're all fast," Groves notes. "You can never take a break with either one of them in the game."

Groves and the Auburn defense faced a finesse offensive attack against South Carolina. Saturday's game will be different.

Facing an Auburn defense on an annual basis that has more speed than the average unit, Nutt has used a running attack against the Tigers that includes a healthy dose of counters as well as reads to open up cutback lanes against over-pursuit. That strategy has worked for the most part as the Razorbacks have run for an average of 194.9 yards in the last seven meetings against Auburn.

It'll be Groves' responsibility to not take himself out of plays by getting too wide and deep into the backfield and contain McFadden and Jones from getting outside.

In the passing game, Groves' role has been different this season than in the past and dropping into coverage at times has been a work in progress for the junior defensive end.

"It's something to get used to because you really have to know what's going on behind you," he says. "When I drop I tend to look at the quarterback (too much) and that's a habit coach is trying to get me out of that I'm slowly working on. It's different playing on two feet, of course (as opposed to two feet and a hand), and knowing where you have your help is at.

"Knowing that if you've got cover three the safety is out of there and you've got to be first in the flat and if you've got cover two the corner is going to sit there and you can just work back."

Groves and the Tigers will hit the field shortly after 11 a.m. for the game that will be televised nationally as part of a doubleheader on CBS with LSU at Florida in the second game.

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