|Auburn's Groves remains in pursuit of record, QBs|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 20 August 2007 12:08|
But the Auburn defensive end does have one group of guys he just doesn't care for: quarterbacks.
``I just really don't have a liking for them,'' Groves said. ``You can't hit them in practice. You have to stay off them. They don't do too much running.
``I don't like quarterbacks, period. I don't know why.''
Luckily for him, his primary job for the Tigers the past three seasons has been to harass and hit opposing quarterbacks. And that's something he has done well enough to earn All-Southeastern Conference honors and move within three sacks of Auburn's 22-year-old career record of 26, held by Gerald Robinson.
``It's on my mind because people bring it up and it's an achievement that's within reach,'' Groves said. ``At the same time it's not on my mind because I can't go into the season thinking, 'I've got to break the record.'''
Then again, ``Doing that would be great.''
Groves, who is married and has already graduated, opted to return for his senior season after being projected as a likely middle-round pick in the NFL draft. The chance to move up in the draft and land a big contract had plenty to do with the decision. There were other motivations, too.
``It was a money thing, and I wanted to win a championship with my teammates,'' Groves said. ``I felt like if I came back here, we had a good chance to go to Atlanta and compete for an SEC title.''
It was certainly a big boost for the 18th-ranked Tigers, both for plays he makes and to help free up teammates to make them while offenses pay extra attention to Groves. He had 9.5 sacks last season.
``Offenses are going to have to play specifically toward him,'' defensive tackle Josh Thompson said. ``It's just going to help us out tremendously. He's a big playmaker, and teams are just going to have to watch him.''
Groves had a huge impact in two of the Tigers' biggest games last season. He had three sacks and a forced fumble in Auburn's upset of eventual national champion Florida.
In a win over Alabama, he surged into the backfield to force a pair of fumbles by quarterback John Parker Wilson. Both turnovers set up Auburn touchdowns.
Despite the attention devoted to the sack record, the 6-foot-3, 254-pound Groves is hoping to show he's not a one-dimensional player. He started only three games his first two seasons, mostly used as a pass rushing specialist.
Groves also has a modest 82 tackles in 40 career games.
``Sacks don't define me so much any more,'' he said. ``I'm trying to get out of the mode of being a pass rusher as much as people say any more.''
Groves has sought out advice from NFL stars. Last season, he spoke to Miami Dolphins' end Jason Taylor before games. This season, he said his NFL mentor will be the Indianapolis Colts' Dwight Freeney.
He still seems awed by that prospect.
``It's kind of strange,'' Groves said. ``I'm like, 'Thank you, Jesus.'''
He said he has a similar feeling about the chance for one more year of college ball. Coaches have warned him not to take the mind-set that, ``Man, I should have been in the NFL.''
``When you do that, that's when you stop being as productive as you were,'' he said. ``If I have a great season or I have a bad season, I thank God that I had another season, had another year to spend with my teammates.''