CU Season Preview – Quarterbacks

 

 

Quarterbacks

Roster:

— Seniors Sefo Liufau; Jordan Gehrke; Jaleel Awini

— Junior: T.J. Patterson

— Sophomores: none

— Red-shirt freshman: Steven Montez; Tyler McGarry

— True freshman: Sam Noyer; Chris Helbig; Casey Marksberry

bold (returning starter) … italicized (walk-on)

Reasons to be excited:

Sefo Liufau is healthy … Liufau is recovering from a Lisfranc foot injury, suffered last November in a home game against USC. For the last six months, opinions as to Liufau’s status for 2016 has changed as many times as the weather.

And now?

“I plan on being there,” Liufau said recently. “I fully believe I’ll be ready to go for camp. I believe I’ll be ready way before that. That’s been my goal from Day One and I think I’m well on my way to accomplishing that.”

When healthy, Liufau can be more than effective, he can be a record-setter.

Liufau currently has his name on 74 school records, including the most pass completions in a career (688), most passing yards in a season (3,200), and most touchdowns in a season (28). With a decent fall, Liufau will leave Colorado with school records for most passing yards in career, the most passing touchdowns in a career, and best career completion percentage.

And head coach Mike MacIntyre expects more from Liufau in 2016 than just a decent fall.

“I’m expecting him to have a phenomenal year,” MacIntyre said. “I think he should have one of those years where everybody talks about Sefo in a positive stretch. I’m excited about seeing it.”

Liufau’s absence this spring helped Gehrke, Montez .. and perhaps even Liufau … With Liufau out, the only scholarship quarterbacks participating in spring drills were senior Jordan Gehrke and red-shirt freshman Steven Montez.

According to Neill Woelk at cubuffs.com, “Gehrke had a solid spring and seemed to grasp the changes in the offense quickly. He also had a good spring game, completing 10-of-12 attempts for 126 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

“Montez, the big-armed, athletic youngster no doubt turned heads in the spring. While he’s still green — he’s never taken a snap in a college game — he made big strides in CU’s 15 practices. He can make plays with his legs, throws a nice deep ball and has excellent velocity with his short game. After a slow start in the spring game, he came back to finish 12-for-21 for 75 yards with one interception”.

Meanwhile, Sefo Liufau, despite not taking any snaps, was able to learn the new offense.

“Sefo was at every single practice, he was at every single meeting”, coach Mike MacIntyre told the Daily Camera. The terminology hasn’t changed; just a tad bit. The terminology (changes) would be tweaks. There’s no learning curve whatsoever. There’s maybe just memorizing a few different terms.”

Liufau said at the end of spring that he feels sitting out has been good for his development as a quarterback, and MacIntyre agrees.

“Sefo is just a phenomenal person, so he always is looking at everything from the positive side of it,” MacIntyre said. “He took it as a learning experience. That was really the first time when his whole world stopped abruptly. I think he had time to kind of reflect, look at everything and … kind of re-evaluate a few things to make him better overall. That’s the way he approached it. His work ethic has been second to none.”

 

Reasons for concern:

Lack of depth could kill CU’s chances for a bowl game … With Liufau’s status an uncertainty (and potential substitute Cade Apsay dismissed from the team), Colorado spent much of the off-season looking for help at the quarterback position. First, there was the flirtation with Tennessee transfer Sheriron Jones, who was in Boulder for two weeks in January before returning to Knoxville.

Then there was the much publicized – and discussed – commitment from Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb. The senior transfer “committed” to Colorado on Signing Day in February, acted like a Buff for several months, then changed his mind and signed with Cal after graduating in May.

MacIntyre has no interest in talking about the ones who got away, saying, “I’m happy with the quarterbacks we’ve got and we’ll just move on from there.”

If only it were that easy.

Liufau may come back stronger than ever, but his history suggests he might not make it through the season in tact. The loss of Liufau would mean that the Buffs would try and bring home a bowl bid on the shoulders of Jordan Gehrke, Steven Montez, Sam Noyer and/or Jaleel Awini.

All four bring something to the table in terms of talent – and either Montez or Noyer will likely be the face of the program in 2017 –  but no one is expecting great things from this quartet this fall.

Sefo Liufau’s records are great … but not his record … As noted, Sefo Liufau already has 74 school records (for those scoring at home, there are 50 passing records, 16 for total offense, and eight “other”, including most first downs earned in a career).

But there is also his record as a starting quarterback.

Liufau has a record of 8-21, with the majority of the victories coming in non-conference play. Take away wins over the likes of UMass (twice), Nicholls State, and Charleston Southern … and, well, you get the idea.

Again, Mike MacIntyre isn’t concerned.

MacIntyre said Liufau “was basically hurt the entire season” last year, which is why he believes the potential for major improvement is there.

“I think you’ll see a more accurate guy this year, because he’s had time to settle, get well and work on his mechanics on his own,” MacIntyre said, adding that Liufau has lost 13-14 pounds and is in great shape. “I’m looking for a guy that when he steps out there is ready to have a phenomenal year.”

If Liufau can stay healthy and have a “phenomenal year”, the Buffs might break their ten-year drought without a winning season.

If Liufau continues to set records, but can’t find a way to improve his winning percentage …

 

Bottom Line:

Mike MacIntyre is saying all the right things when it comes to Sefo Liufau, not only as to Liufau’s recovery, but the potential for his senior quarterback to have a great season.

Realistically, there isn’t anything else he can say.

The reality is, however, that Mike MacIntyre’s career as a head football coach may hinge upon Liufau’s performance this fall. Darrin Chiaverini has been brought in to help mold the offense, but, for much of Chiaverini’s brief time in Boulder, it was assumed that that offense would be spear-headed by his Texas Tech protege, Davis Webb.

And now the new offense will be geared towards assisting what is assumed will be a healthy Sefo Liufau.

Make no mistake – I have nothing against Sefo Liufau.

Quite the contrary.

Liufau is a warrior, a fine young man, and a great leader. Selected as a team captain as both a sophomore and a junior, Liufau has played through pain, and his desire to win cannot be questioned. He handled the entire Webb saga with grace and dignity, and is doing all he can to prepare himself to be the starter come September 2nd against Colorado State.

The questions remains, however: Can he translate all of that energy and desire into victories against Pac-12 competition this fall?

To be determined …

 

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7 Replies to “CU Preview – Quarterbacks”

  1. Stuart, it’s nice having an outlet to let the steam off and see what others have to say about our Beloved Buffs and to balance all that with your views. Thanks.

    I’m really wondering how much Jaleel Awini will factor into the overall scheme of how the offense will be designed. I’m sure he will be given a look, but I also wonder if that will aid in designing a “newer” version of the offensive potential.

    Having several mobile QB’s (yes, all of them) who can complement a basic “option” look on the roster, I have been wondering if that is in the “newer” portion of the offensive scheme….. and certainly hope it will be.

    As we observed in the last game, Awini really impressed many with what FEW attempts he had to employ the option and it (all of the sudden) gave our offense a new dimension which had the defense on their heels.

    I’m just hoping it will be something we can look forward to and wonder what your take might be.

  2. Stuart, I always enjoy your content and the balanced commentary by posters. In answer to your question, yes, I feel that Sefo can lead the Buffs to a bowl game. In past seasons, I have been (overly- I will admit, see forthcoming comments) frustrated by his inability to find a way to make the play in repeated key offensive situations. But, this is clearly not just on him. The red zone play calling has been sub par to say the least. Per a couple of my recent posts over the last couple of months and reflecting on things, I feel that with improvement in play calling, offensive line play, continued maturation on defense, a few more catches than drops by existing WR in key situations, new WR talent, improvement in special teams, all combined will add up to what we want to see: a bowl game this season. In the past, I would not have been optimistic or enthusiastic about a 6-6 season but will be “all in” this year for this type of record. I want to see Sefo and all of the Buffs succeed in this key year. Go Buffs!!! PS- I will be going to Michigan, this has always been a venue I wanted to check out since “The Catch” in 1994.

  3. while we are talking QB’s lets give Tate Martell some love and hope he doesnt go to one of those glamour socal schools……or any other PAC 12 school if he doesnt become a Buff.

    1. When we start getting attention from athletes with this level of talent, it’s just a good thing….whether he eventually signs a LOI with the Buffs or not. If not, many recruits will be taking notice and it will be creating curiosity on their part.

      That aside he certainly appears impressive from watching the video and looks more like a college player than a HS recruit.

      Go Buffs.

  4. Yo Stuart,

    Lots of folks want to blame Sefo for the won-loss record in games he started. It comes with the position… more glory than deserved and a lot more blame than deserved.

    Sefo was not the one giving up so many points. He was also not the one calling the plays. That was Brian Lindgren.

    I’ve written too many posts already about how predictable the Buffs have been with Lindgren calling the plays. The lone OC since Mac got here also did not seem to understand how to call plays designed to lessen the chance that his quarterback got beat to a pulp every game.

    Now that Chiaverini is here to see if two heads are better than one, I’m hoping (like all the other Buff fans) that the Buffs are much less predictable and use many more quick hitting plays so Sefo (or whoever is playing QB) does not spend the whole game picking himself up off the ground.

    Lots of folks also blame the offensive line… but that blame also goes to play calling. If your OL is a weak link, you don’t call so many slowly developing plays which require your QB to hold the ball for more than 4 seconds (and you don’t make it so easy for opposing defensive coordinators by being so repetitive and predictable).

    We’ll know by the end of the first half of the first game if the addition of Chiaverini has altered the game planning and play calling. If it looks the same as last year, it will be a long year for the offense.

    The defense will continue to improve under Tumpkin and Leavitt, so if the Buffs fail to bring home enough wins for a bowl game, rest assured that the offense will be to blame.

    Now that Mac will be able to focus squarely on football instead of more serious family issues, I can’t imagine that he will let the season get away from him. He knows that it’s time to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

  5. You are spot on Stuart. The offense really needs to come together this year with Sefo, and while this is no secret it really does hinge on the OL. If they can run block better, and protect Sefo just maybe he will have the time to show what his true ability is as a passing QB. Competent line play will also help Sefo play smarter and make it possible for him to protect himself better, as that will be the key.

    We have not seen what Sefo and the offense can truly do as the OL play has been so inconsistent over the last 3 years.

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