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bsn BSN: Colorado Buffaloes face looming question heading into USC

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    BOULDER – The Colorado Buffaloes are 4-1, they are ranked for the first time since 2005 and they currently sit alone atop the Pac-12 South. Things are going great in Boulder, but every story needs some conflict.

    As the Buffs head to Southern California on Saturday to take on the USC Trojans, the team’s starting quarterback position remains a mystery for the third straight week. Both senior Sefo Liufau and redshirt freshman Steven Montez have been remarkable in their time, which begs the question of who will start at the Coliseum this weekend.

    You know things have come quite a long way when the biggest question hanging over your team is which really good player should play.

    “I don’t call it a problem. I call it a great thing,” head coach Mike MacIntyre stated early in the week. “You’ve got two quarterbacks you know you can win with, that’s really good. There are a lot of schools that don’t know that, or wish they did.”

    Liufau, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound, three-year captain, is the program’s all-time leading passer. When healthy, he has managed to be a consistent weapon for the Buffs.

    Throughout the years, Liufau has proven time and time again that he is a fighter and will do anything to stay on the field to compete with his team. On the play after Liufau suffered the injury that has sidelined him the last two weeks, he threw a 70-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Shay Fields.

    Before that injury, the Buffaloes’ leader was en route to the best season of his career. Thus far, he’s completed 54-of-76 passes for 268 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Liufau’s healthiest year was in 2014 when he completed 325-of-498 for 3,200 yards.

    As of Tuesday, the senior signal-caller has been practicing and is starting to feel confident about his ankle. Going as far as to say he feels 100-percent.

    MacIntyre had other thoughts.

    “He’s the toughest sucker in the building,” laughed MacIntyre. “He is going to say that no matter what, he said that two weeks ago. The trainers will evaluate it, we’ll evaluate it, he’ll evaluate it. I don’t want to put him out there if he is not fully ready to go.”

    As it would be for any competitor of his caliber, sitting on the sideline for two weeks has been tough on the senior. He’s is eager to get back out on the field and lead the ranked Buffs. If you remember, it was against USC last season when Liufau had the Buffs in the lead before suffering a broken foot. Colorado went on to lose by three.

    “He’s a really competitive guy,” expressed co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks Coach Brian Lindgren. “It’s his senior year and he’s put in a lot of work to get himself back. I think the last two weeks were really hard. He was a big part of those wins and I think the whole team understands that. He did a nice job accepting his role, but I think it was difficult for him. I know that he would have loved to be out there, but at the same time I think he knew, ‘Hey, I’m not healthy enough to give us what we need.’ We wanted to make sure we got him back to 100-percent.”

    When Montez was thrown into the Michigan game following Liufau’s injury it seemed as though the freshman couldn’t keep up. He missed on all seven of his pass attempts and struggled to find opportunities for the Buffs to succeed. This gave fans a sense of urgency for Liufau to recover quickly.

    Surprisingly, following the Michigan game, Montez had no real trouble stepping in for Liufau. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound freshman had a record-setting starting debut against the Oregon Ducks where he completed 23-of-32 passes, for 333 yards as well as rushing f0r a game-high 135 yards. Montez scored a total of four touchdowns but let two interceptions keep the Ducks in the game until the last minute. Even after coming up hot the last two games Montez understands he hasn’t solidified the starting position just yet.

    “I just go in every week, playing my game, doing my thing, and preparing like I’m the starter,” said Montez. “Whoever ‘Coach Mac’ plays at the end of the week is going to go and lead us to USC.”

    Montez’s ability to execute plays as well as run the ball has made fans excited for the future and interested in whether Montez can keep his momentum going. The main question that continues to circulate around is how well would Montez be able to handle a tough USC defense, if given the chance.

    Although the young gun does have the past two weeks fueling his game, Liufau has shown a sense of calmness and maturity that he brings to the team. This leadership could come in handy on the field if the Buffs start falling under pressure.

    “Athletically they are very similar, but right now I think the biggest difference is that Sefo’s got more game experience and is a little bit more consistent as a decision maker,” said Lindgren. “I like what Steven has done, he’s progressed each week and he’s done a lot of good things…. He hasn’t been as consistent with his reads but he is improving.”

    Players on the team have also noticed the similarities and key differences between the quarterbacks thus far.

    “I’m pretty sure I just have to go out and run my routes as fast as I can just like I do with Sefo. Pretty much the same timing to me just a different guy, different name,” explained Fields. “When Montez is down we pick him up a little bit more than we do Sefo because he is a more experienced guy, as you can tell, but we still pretty much handle it like he is our leader on the field when Sefo isn’t playing.”

    The Colorado Buffaloes coaching staff will continue to toy this week with the question of who should start on Saturday. MacIntyre did announce that it will once again be a game-time decision but that Liufau’s health will be a determining factor.

    Allie Monroy
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