By Jeff Shearer
ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. - Before a football team can win in the fall, says Gus Malzahn, it must win in the summer.
“Being able to win the summer, you have to be very organized, and your players have to do work on their own,” Malzahn said. “I feel good about our leadership, and that’s our goal.”
Speaking to reporters Thursday before addressing a packed clubhouse of Tiger fans at Willow Point on the final stop of the Auburn Alumni Association’s AMBUSH tour, Malzahn outlined his team’s summer priorities.
“You get two hours with your players this summer, that’s very important,” he said. “Of course, last year, same way. Being strategic with that. With Coach Russell, working out with him is very critical, too. Our guys are working on their own. Those three things are very important.”
Auburn’s quarterbacks are key to summer success, organizing passing sessions with receivers to perfect timing on routes.
“Summer is always a time, it’s really good for quarterbacks,” Malzahn said. “And they can get the receivers out there, without a coach. And a lot of times that’s good. Where they can communicate some things that can help you in the fall. With the new quarterbacks and doing some new things in the passing game, this summer is really critical.”
After a question-and-answer session with Auburn announcer Rod Bramblett, Malzahn fielded questions from fans.
“If you haven’t named a quarterback, that’s really the main question you get,” Malzahn said. “I’m sure it will be no different tonight. A lot of times, they just like hearing about the players. The offense is going to be a little bit different this year. And there’s a lot of questions about that. We have most of our guys back on defense. Kevin Steele’s back a second year and we have the best kicker in college football, too. A little bit of all of the above.”
Auburn’s quarterback contenders include Sean White, Jarrett Stidham and Malik Willis.
“I feel like we have quality depth,” Malzahn said. “That’s probably one of the best things we have going into the fall that has been a little bit different the last couple years. That’s a positive that I like to brag about.”
Fresh off Auburn’s ninth annual Big Cat weekend, Malzahn said the recruiting event was a hit with prospects.
“Big Cat was awesome,” he said. “After we got done, there were three or four of the coaches who have been through all of them since I’ve been back as head coach. Feel like this may have been the best one overall. Very successful.”
Malzahn said he will measure Big Cat’s full impact on National Signing Day, rather expecting an influx of commitments from recruits this summer.
“It’s not really set up for that,” Malzahn said. “It’s more of relationship building, getting to know each other. The way we left it, we feel great with where we are with the staff. It will really pay dividends moving forward.”
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) June 9, 2017
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) June 8, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer