College players can only do so much physically in the summer because their coaches are not allowed to work with them on football skills. They can work on their strength and conditioning, and even get together for informal workouts with their teammates, but there is no limit on the amount time they can spend on the mental part of the game. There is also no limit on the amount of mental improvement they can make.
You can be sure that Auburn's coaches have video cut-ups from spring practice the quarterbacks can study to figure out what they did well and didn't do well. The coaches also have cut-ups on the offensive plays run last year when Gus Malzahn was head coach at Arkansas State and Rhett Lashlee was the offensive coordinator there.
The coaches also have cut-ups from Auburn when Cam Newton was playing quarterback for the Tigers with Coach Malzahn the offensive coordinator. What the Tigers do this year with the quarterback probably won't be identical to what they did in 2010 with Cam because you build the offense around what the quarterback can do best, but there will likely be a lot of similarities regardless of who wins the starting job this season.
Every time a quarterback gets in the film room and studies a play that is a mental rep. The more repetitions you get the quicker the quarterback's mind reacts and the quicker he will be able to make good decisions on the field in practice and game situations. I can't overemphasize how important that is for quarterbacks.
A great example of that can be found by taking a look at a couple of the best quarterbacks who ever played the game, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Both are still doing their thing in the National Football League and performing at a very high level.
I don't think anybody would call Peyton Manning quick afoot or say the same thing about Tom Brady, but they are lightning quick with their mental abilities on the field. The decision-making process of those two is off the chart, which is one of the reasons they hardly ever get sacked. That comes from experience and studying, and then studying some more.
In Auburn's situation it is critical for the returning quarterbacks and the newcomers to spend as much time as they possibly can in the film room this summer studying the offense they want to be running this fall. Being a successful quarterback is as much mental as it is physical and without a doubt one of the guys can separate himself from the others with how hard and how smart he works this time of year.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.