"I've taken on a new role--I'm a linebacker now," Groves says. "I'm in a different meeting room and it's a different set of film study. I like it. It shows my versatility.
"You've got to read runs," he adds. "You've got to key the fullback and things like that--use your eyes more. At end you just look at the offensive tackle. At linebacker you look at fullback, tight end, formation and all that stuff."
Playing against a Tennessee Tech team that shows a lot of formations, throws the ball and runs the options, Groves says it's a good week to make the move "before the bullets really start flying against Georgia and Alabama," he explains. "You've got to know your assignments on every play. It's a great week to go to sam linebacker, I'll tell you that."
However, Groves is still a part of the "rabbits" package, which is used in pass situations along with Coleman at the other end and Sen'Derrick Marks and Pat Sims inside.
Defensive ends coach Terry Price approached Groves about the move on Monday, and the senior says he welcomed the idea, especially since he started his career at Auburn as a redshirting middle linebacker in 2003.
"I didn't mind it because I had done it before against Arkansas, but I just didn't play because of my (dislocated) toes," he notes. Groves dislocated three toes in the victory at Florida, which opened the door for more playing time for Coleman. "It's something that's good for the team. I think they're easing me in now rather than just jumping into the fire. Middle is way harder than sam. Sam, all you've got to do is run first to the flat and man-to-man. At mike you have to know everybody's position.
"I had to get ready for it now or in the future. Better now than in the future."
Groves, similar to former Tiger D-end Reggie Torbor, has the size to play end or linebacker in college, but may project higher as a linebacker at the next level. Torbor made the move following his senior season at Auburn and is a reserve linebacker for the New York Giants.
When Will Muschamp came to Auburn after the 2005 season, Groves was converted from his rush end spot to a hybrid end/linebacker that was sometimes in a three-point stance and sometimes standing up, and rushing or dropping depending on the call. Since he is still a part of the pass-rush package and because he's used to playing in space, even though he's practicing with James Willis and the linebackers now, the move isn't that drastic for the senior.
"I think I'm more comfortable now (in space) than I was last year for the simple fact that I know the defense a little better," he says. "I know the safeties, the corners, I know things like that. I know what other people behind me have. We've dropped a little bit, but kind of slacked off a little bit in the middle of the season. I'm used to it now and I've played on my feet for two years now. It's pretty easy."