Dye-Gest: Toughness A Key Attribute for QBs

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about Auburn and quarterback play in this edition of his Dye-Gest column.

In college football today most of the time when you watch a national championship game there are good or great quarterbacks who have led their teams to that position. Auburn's great quarterback, Cam Newton, was better than Oregon's good quarterback (Darron Thomas) in the championship game won by the Tigers.

The recently played BCS title game was unusual because neither team got outstanding quarterback play throughout the season, but LSU and Alabama were so dominant on defense they were able to overcome that issue. Both teams won with their defenses, which explains why there was only one touchdown scored in the more than eight quarters of football between the two teams.

In fact, I don't remember seeing a championship game with two more average quarterbacks, but the QB play did factor into the decision.

Alabama won the rematch because it did a great job of protecting its quarterback, A.J. McCarron, while LSU didn't do the same thing for Jordan Jefferson, who didn't handle the pressure and struggled from start to finish in the title game.

When the Auburn football team begins spring practice there should be a good competition for the starting quarterback with new offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Scot Loeffler putting in his system and looking for the right player to direct it.

Whatever offense a team is using, the quarterback is going to be high profile and highly scrutinized. It is glamorous to be the quarterback, but it isn't easy to deliver a football 40 or 50 yards downfield when there is a 300 hundred pound lineman or a big linebacker running full speed trying to bury you. It takes a tough person to be able to do that, take a pounding and come back for more time after time.

The guys who can do that come in different sizes with different personalities. I have been around some who were devout Christians, some who were hell-raisers and street fighters and others who were somewhere in between those extremes. The most important trait for those guys is to be able to step in a huddle and command the confidence of the other guys on the field with him. Quarterbacks who can do that make their teams better.

Finding the guy who best does that will be very important for the 2012 Tigers. My guess is it will be one of the two players who saw action last season who will emerge as the starter instead of the freshman Zeke Pike, who probably has all kind of talent and ability, but in my opinion the physical part of the equation is the least important as far as being a success in college assuming the player involved has college-level ability.

Even if you bring in a great talent at quarterback, as a coach you don't know for sure how he will develop. It is one thing to be able to handle the pressure of the position in high school, where he is a local hero and so forth, but once he gets off to college and is away from home and his comfort zone, it is an entirely different world for him.

I have no idea who is going to emerge number one for the Tigers, but I am looking forward to see how the competition plays out.

(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 participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.

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