First Start No Worry For AU Defensive End

Tommy Tuberville says that Quentin Groves is "doubtful" for Auburn's game against Vanderbilt, so Antonio Coleman could be making his first collegiate start against the Commodores.

Ala.--Quentin Groves dislocated three toes near the end of the third quarter in Auburn's victory over Florida, which means that sophomore Antonio Coleman will likely be getting his first career start when Auburn returns to Jordan-Hare Stadium for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff versus Vanderbilt.

But for Coleman, it's just another game on the schedule.

"I'm filling into the starting lineup," he explains, "but really it's the same old thing. Just go out and make plays. I've been taking a whole lot of snaps. There's no big deal to the starting situation. I've been playing like I've been starting anyway so it really doesn't matter."

He's been in on roughly have of the defensive snaps so far this season, and despite playing behind Groves technically speaking, he's been one of the most productive Auburn defenders.

Coleman leads the team with three sacks for 18 yards and is fourth on the team in tackles for loss.


Coleman wasn't credited with a tackle in the opener against Kansas State, but he broke up a pass (above), later scored a touchdown and was Auburn's defensive player of the week.

With Groves getting bit by injury bug that has plagued the Auburn defense through the first five games, Coleman played almost the entire fourth quarter against the Gators, but says it's now time to move on and keep things going in the right direction.

"It was a big win for us," he says. "We needed something to get our confidence back and get back into the hunt like the coaches have said. But that was last week. Now we're looking forward to Vanderbilt.

"They have a good quarterback," Coleman says of Commodore QB Chris Nickson. "That's all the coaches have stressed. We watched film and he is probably one of the best running quarterbacks we're going to play this year. He's a great athlete. He's like a running back, but he's playing quarterback and he can throw. We've got to get a hat on him."

The Tigers played and beat a running quarterback last Saturday, but when asked if Nickson was similar to Tim Tebow, Coleman replied, "He moves like a running back. Tebow is a big, physical back. Nickson, he's not physical but he'll make you miss. That's the difference I see."

With so many different looks up front that Will Muschamp's defense brings to the table, classifying Groves, Coleman and freshman Antoine Carter at a certain position is nearly impossible because they all play on both the strong and weakside and also see time in a two-point stance as linebacker. Then there is Sen'Derrick Marks, who is listed as the strongside end but plays anywhere and everywhere on the line.

Groves' injury likely means that Carter may see the field more after averaging about 10-15 snaps in recent weeks. Michael Goggans also figures into the rotation more.

"When Quentin went down in the Florida game I pulled (Carter) to the side and told him we've got to go," Colemans says. "Q's out, but I'm going to step up. Basically, he'll probably be playing the buck a lot more than I do. I'll probably be down (three-point stance) because I know all of the positions. He's just coming on. He's a great player and I'm ready to see him make some plays."

Saturday's game will be televised regionally on Lincoln Financial Sports.


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