|Auburn's Groves shifting from defensive end to linebacker part-time to make way for Coleman|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 30 October 2007 22:57|
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -Auburn appears to have found a way to keep Quentin Groves and Antonio Coleman on the field together.|
The 19th-ranked Tigers are moving Groves from defensive end to linebacker at least part-time entering the final three regular-season games of his college career, making way for the fast-rising Coleman.
``I've taken on a new role,'' Groves said Tuesday. ``I'm a linebacker now. Different meeting room. Different set of film study.''
Well, not entirely. Groves and Coleman will still team up at end on pass rushing downs for the Tigers (6-3), who face Tennessee Tech on Saturday. It should be a nice tuneup for Groves in his new role before they face their two biggest rivals.
``Before the bullets really start flying against Alabama and Georgia,'' said Groves, who expects NFL teams to project him as a linebacker. ``I'm thanking them for easing me in now rather than just jumping into the fire.''
With Coleman's emergence, the move allows the Tigers to keep two of their better defensive players on the field more frequently while run-stopper Sen'Derrick Marks remains at the other end spot. The sophomore Coleman leads the team and ranks fifth in the Southeastern Conference with 12 1/2 tackles for losses and six sacks - most of those coming since he has been the starter the past four games. Groves was sidelined for two games with a toe injury and has remained limited.
``We're looking for ways to get them all on the field,'' coach Tommy Tuberville said. ``Starting next week, you want to have your best players on the field when you're playing conference games. Going into those last two games, we're going to need everybody out there at the same time.''
Groves will help fill in for linebacker Craig Stevens, who will miss Saturday's game with a sprained ankle, Tuberville said. Coleman's play is another big factor in the move.
He had two sacks against Mississippi last weekend and also changed direction fast enough to make a tackle behind the line on a reverse. Coleman also pressured Brent Schaeffer into a bad pass late that was intercepted in the end zone to help Auburn pull away for a 17-3 win.
``I just feel I'm playing good ball and I think they want to keep me out there because I'm playing so good,'' Coleman said.
It certainly would have been hard to lift him from the starting lineup after that performance.
``Antonio probably played the best game he played all year,'' Tuberville said. ``That play he made on the reverse was unbelievable, and of course he forced the interception with pressure.
``He was just all over the place making plays and fighting to get off blocks and holding and all that kind of stuff.''
Coleman played in every game last season but didn't have a sack and managed only one tackle for loss. His emergence this season has caught some by surprise, but not his teammates.
``A lot of people weren't talking about him in the beginning of the season,'' Marks said. ``Everybody was talking about Quentin, and now he came in and he's leading the team in sacks.
``Now, a lot of people are keying on him. They'll do the things they were doing to Quentin, and that opens up a lot for other guys on the defensive line.''
Groves, meanwhile, remains stuck at three sacks this season, leaving him tied for the school record of 26. At this point, he just wants to get that record-setting sack out of the way.
``I pray to God every night I get the sack out of the way,'' Groves said. ``It's the hardest thing ever to get. It's something I work for, wish I had, but I don't.''
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