July 26, 2007

SEC Notebook: Groves gunning for record

Senior defensive end Quentin Groves, who had 9 1/2 sacks last season, needs just four to break the Gerald Robinson's school career record of 26.

He's taking aim at the mark as if he's taking aim at Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson, whom Groves sacked twice last season.

"It would mean the world to me to break that record," Groves said. "When I came to Auburn my goal was to become the best player at my position. I wanted to be the best defensive end on the field, and lead the team in sacks.

"If I break Gerald Robinson's record, I would be honored to have him there to see it. To know that I became the best defensive end in the history of Auburn, to know that I was as good as him, that would be the greatest feeling in the world."

Is Lester an Iron(s) man?

Kenny Irons, who led Auburn in rushing the last two seasons, has moved on. That leaves the Tigers searching for someone who can replace his production in their run-oriented offense.

Coach Tommy Tuberville believes 5-foot-11, 194-pound junior Brad Lester, who rushed for 510 yards last season, can put up big yardage if he can get big enough.

"Brad Lester, last year, was probably a little underweight," Tuberville said. "We've tried to put a little more weight on him where he can be a guy that can carry the ball 20-22 times a game.

"If he can do that, I think he can fit into the mold of Kenny Irons or Ronnie Brown or Carnell Williams or Rudi Johnson. Right now, that's still out there to be seen."

Don't bet on it

Spurrier said the scandal involving former NBA referee Tim Donaghy allegedly fixing games could have an effect on SEC football.

If nothing else he said it would make coaches alter their vocabulary when complaining about officiating.

"We'll all have to be careful now of not saying, 'It appeared that guy had money on the game,' " Spurrier said. "You can't say that anymore. I don't know if I ever said that before. There's been a few lousily called games that deserved an investigation."

After the laughter subsided, Spurrier added a more serious comment.

"Referees really need to be scrutinized probably more so than us coaches are scrutinized," he said. "Hopefully, it will be a good scare that will help every sport."

Nutt's brother improving

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt offered a word of thanks for all the concern shown for his brother Danny, who last week resigned as the Razorbacks running backs coach for health reasons.

Danny Nutt, who underwent brain surgery in 1998, resigned after it was found he had bleeding from his brain stem.

"I want to talk about my brother a little bit," Houston Nutt said. "I think No. 1, when you have your health, you're rich. He had a scan and an MRI about two weeks ago. He's done very well. No fresh bleeding there."

Houston said he knew the condition eventually would require Danny to stop coaching, but they were disappointed it happened so soon.

"We knew this day was coming, but boy, you didn't expect it this quick," Houston said. "He really wanted to get through this year because of the backfield he basically recruited, maybe the best backfield Arkansas has ever had."

Darren McFadden, last year's Heisman Trophy runner-up, and Felix Jones both rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.

McFadden said he missed his former position coach.

"I was recruited by him, so I've had a relationship with Danny Nutt since the 10th grade," McFadden said. "I'm going to check up on him and see how he's doing."

He won't strike a pose

Obviously, McFadden wants to win the Heisman, but he won't do anything special to draw attention to himself.

Michigan's Desmond Howard struck the Heisman pose in a game during the 1991 season when he won the trophy. The low-key McFadden said that wasn't his style.

"It's just not me," he said. "I don't feel like I need to put myself out there. I think you should let your performance on the field do the talking for you."

McFadden's performance spoke volumes last season when he rushed for 1,647 yards and 14 touchdowns.

He's baaaack

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks opened his news conference by announcing "I'm baaaaaack."

At the SEC meetings a year ago Brooks' future at Kentucky was in doubt after he'd managed just nine victories in three seasons. However, the Wildcats went 8-5 last season and defeated Clemson in the Music City Bowl, and Brooks' return was secured.

"If you remember my opening statement the last two years, my goal for the upcoming season would be that I was able to be here at this function the next year," Brooks said. "Well, we finally got it on a little bit more solid footing and hopefully I won't have to answer too many questions about job security this year."

He didn't.

However, Brooks did admit quarterback Andre' Woodson was a major reason he's still the coach in Lexington.

Woodson passed for just 1,644 yards and six touchdowns in 2005, but made dramatic improvement in 2006 with 3,515 passing yards and 31 touchdowns.

"(Coach) Curtis Pulley made Andre' focus on the positive things, not the negative," Brooks said. "He was able to get him to focus and channel his ability, which he always had, in the right direction.

"It's maybe one of the biggest transitions from production, leadership, accountability that I've seen a young man make from one year to the next in my coaching career. And thank God he did it because I'm back here talking to you."

Brooks closed his news conference by saying: "Hope to see you next year."

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

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