Groves Responds To Criticism

Defensive end Quentin Groves talks about Auburn's win over Florida and his second half explosion.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville had seen enough. Through the first 30 minutes of Saturday night's game Florida's offense had the ball 18 plays and had 17 points to show for their night.

That didn't sit well at all with Tuberville and one of the players he chose to take his wrath out on at halftime was junior defensive end Quentin Groves.

Solid this season but not the dominant defensive end Auburn had hoped he would be, Groves was the invisible man against the Gators in half number one as he ran by play after play and constantly fought to get off blocks. Tired of seeing that play out of his more talented players, Tuberville told the defensive line to forget their style of play and get up the field as much as possible.

That was music to the ears of Groves. Auburn's best pass rusher and a player who is among the best in school history in sacks, the Greenville, Miss., native came out firing in the second half and accounted for three sacks. Groves says it wasn't hard to get up to play with the tongue lashing the defense got at halftime.

"Coach Tuberville challenged us and we came out and played with more emotion," Groves says. "It was a great atmosphere and we didn't take advantage of it like we should have in the first half. Chris Leak was hearing the snap count and he was comfortable in the pocket. They were breaking long runs on us. They were doing things that they're accustomed to doing. We came out in the second half striking and controlling the line of scrimmage and giving them problems.

"He challenged us actually and asked if we were man enough to beat this team," he adds. "We had been talking all week that we could beat them, but we hadn't shown it. We acted like we were scared. We came out striking and doing the things we were taught not to do, not reading keys, just come off striking."

Quentin Groves sacks Chris Leak during the second half on Saturday.

Striking is something that Groves is very good at on defense. A speed rusher who can also be physical, Groves turned it loose against Leak and the Gator offense and was the force the Tigers needed to turn the game around. Groves says there is no other way to put it, he was called out and had to respond.

"It was just the coaches calling me out," Groves says. "It was a big stage, a grand stage. ESPN Full Circle, the number two team in the country with supposedly one of the best offenses in America, for us to come out and play the way we did it just speaks volumes for the things we have not overlooked. I challenged myself to step up and make plays. That's my philosophy from now on. If you have one sack you have to get four, if you have four sacks you have to get six. That's something I'm trying to get better at each week."

If it wasn't enough to be called out by his coaches at halftime in front of his teammates, Groves heard it before the game from someone he considers one of his best friends. Also an authority on playing the defensive end position, Stanley McClover had some words to tell Groves before the game.

"I talked to Stanley before the game," Groves says. "He was feeling down. He was like ‘Q you need to go out and play a good game because you haven't shown up yet.' When your brother tells you something is wrong you know something is wrong. I just went out there and let the emotion carry me. It was hard not to be emotional in that stadium."

Another reason for the calling out of Groves is because of his role on this year's team. One of the veterans of the Auburn defense, he has taken on a more vocal role for the Tigers this season and is being counted on as a team leader. Because of that there have been some growing pains for Groves, but in the end he's thankful for the opportunity he's been presented.

"My coaches said. ‘Q even though you are a junior you are going to have to be one of the leaders on this team,'" Groves says. "People look up to you whether you realize it or not. They follow your lead for example. It's just something I think I was born with. I think every man is. I just thank God for the opportunity the coaches have allowed me to speak as freely as they let me speak."

To help him with his new role Groves has spent hours talking with some of the greats in Auburn history that have juggled the role of player and team leader on the defense. Those conversations have been huge in his development and Groves says they've helped him take on the role and hopefully begin to excel in the situation.

"It's very much a learning process," Groves says. "That's why I consult people like Takeo Spikes, Dontarrious Thomas, Karlos Dansby, Reggie Torbor. I go to those guys and ask them ‘what and I supposed to do here?. What and I supposed to do here and what am I supposed to say?' It's a role I thank them for giving me because I'm willing to take the task. It's hard but at the same time it's kind of easy because it's a role I was born to do."

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