AUBURN, ALABAMA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
AUBURN — Defensive end Quentin Groves never thought it would be this difficult. He never thought it would get into his head this much.
Groves entered this season four sacks shy of tying Gerald Robinson’s career Auburn record of 26 career sacks. Groves got two in the opener against South Florida, but the senior has not had a sack in the last three games.
“As you inch closer and closer, you’re like: Oh my God, let me get it,” Groves said. “I’m trying to get this record out from over my head.”
Groves has been close. He has 17 quarterback hurries this season — eight more than anyone else. Groves thought he got the record-tying sack against South Florida, but a face-mask penalty nullified the play.
Groves said the record is affecting his play. He said that when defensive coaches call for him to drop back in coverage, he ignores them and rushes the quarterback.
“Half the time (against New Mexico State), I didn’t even know what the play call was,” Groves said. “I was thinking: I know I can beat this guy.”
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said teams have been double-teaming Groves with either a running back and lineman or a tight end and a lineman. Tuberville said defensive coaches have been trying to move Groves around but that has failed. “Sometimes they tend to find him,” he said.
Auburn used the “whisper drill” in practice this week in preparation for its game at Florida on Saturday.
When quarterback Brandon Cox or true freshman Kodi Burns call audibles at the line of scrimmage among a raucous Ben Hill Griffin Stadium crowd, their voices will sound like mere whispers to offensive linemen.
To mimic that setting, the Tigers made play calls during practice this week by whispering. It is a tradition used during road game weeks.
And apparently it’s worked. Auburn has won six straight SEC road games and 12 out of the last 13 dating back to 2004.
“We do the whisper drill because basically when you get in the stadium that’s what it sounds like, a whisper,” Cox said. “We whisper throughout practice and also work on silent counts.”
Auburn will be playing a game outside of Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time this season. The Tigers will don white uniforms. Auburn has won its last 12 games in white.
Daily sports writer
TUSCALOOSA — After struggling on third down in last week’s loss to Georgia, Alabama head coach Nick Saban put his team through no special drills as the Tide prepared for Saturday’s game against Florida State.
The Bulldogs converted 9 of 19 third downs, while Alabama made only 3 of 15. According to Tide safety Rashad Johnson, it’s more about an attitude adjustment.
“You have to have that mentality that you are going to do whatever you have to do to get off the field on third down and get your offense the chance to make plays,” Johnson said.
This past week, almost every Alabama player The Decatur Daily interviewed said he rooted for Florida State growing up. Linebacker Darren Mustin did the tomahawk chop, and wide receiver DJ Hall wanted to go there before the school’s lack of interest. The one player who said he did not root for the Seminoles as a youngster was Simeon Castille.
Castille’s father, Jeremiah played defensive back at Alabama from 1979-82 and was an All-American in 1982.
When asked whether he was a Florida State fan, without hesitation, Simeon gave the simple one-word answer of “no.”
Saturday’s game will have political overtones. According to Saban, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin will attend. Manchin played for Bowden at West Virginia when Bowden was an assistant coach. Saban and Manchin are friends, and Manchin is the godfather of Saban’s son, Nicholas.
“There are a lot of people in West Virginia that I know that know (Bowden),” Saban said. “It’s just a lot of mutual relationships.”
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