News of the day, 10/31
I also have a little illustration to help show what Auburn wants to do with Groves.
Wise, you are, for visiting the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.
Here's the deal on Groves. There are three reasons why this move happened:
a.) The emergence of Antonio Coleman and Antoine Carter at weak-side DE.
b.) The loss of strong-side LB Craig Stevens to injury.
c.) Quentin's complete intellectual command of Auburn's defense
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is big on changing fronts. This is a reasonably new trend in college ball. Years ago, coordinators picked a front (3-4, 4-3, 4-4 or 5-2) and stuck with it. Muschamp learned to change fronts while working under Nick Saban at LSU, then honed the concept during his time with the Miami Dolphins. The benefit of changing fronts means the defense can better "fit" what Muschamp believes the offense is trying to do.
He uses two fronts: a 3-4 and a 4-3.
The 3-4 is used most often against run-oriented fronts:
**the nickel usually is the top-tier cornerback who isn't already at cornerback. That can be Jerraud Powers (8), Jae Wilhite (24) or Pat Lee (20).
The trick here is that SLB (Groves' new position) has to be big enough to handle tackles and tight ends. It's a demanding assignment. Auburn tried to play S Eric Brock at that spot in September and it didn't work. Brock isn't big enough. Stevens has been inconsistent. Freshman Bo Harris was a thought, too, but he's had a lingering shoulder issue. Groves is the best option.
When Auburn goes with a 4-3 front, used most often in passing situations, it looks like this:
Notice that Groves is back to his usual spot at weak-side end. He's still a ferocious pass rusher. Sen'Derrick Marks (94) usually slides inside. This set-up allows Auburn to maximize its sack threats.
So the last question is: Why now? Well, Blackmon's injury is the main part of this. Blackmon (10) missed half the season with an ankle problem. He's been full speed for two weeks or so. He needed time to get back into the flow, and Chris Evans (59) needed some time to adjust at weak-side LB. Recall that Groves missed two games with dislocated toes. He's just now getting back to normal. Also, Muschamp now has seen enough from Antonio Coleman (52) to trust him at weak-side DE.
One thing I have learned from this is that Auburn doesn't have enough productive linebackers. Blackmon and Evans have been worthwhile, no doubt, but Stevens wasn't having a great season. Harris has been hurt or ineffective. Same for Merrill Johnson. I can't get a feel for Josh Bynes, who should be redshirting. Adam Herring is redshirting.
I think Auburn might benefit from signing Jerrell Harris, the hard-hitting linebacker from Gadsden City High. Just throwing that out there.