Colorado coaches want their quarterback to be a pass-first guy, and that's what they think they have in Sefo Liufau.
It doesn't mean they would be upset to see Liufau tuck the ball and run from time to time.
In fact, one area head coach Mike MacIntyre and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren believe Liufau could blossom this year is knowing when to opt to try to make a play with his feet.
"Definitely, no question," Lindgren said. "We've done some things to incorporate him a little bit more in the run game, and he's done some stuff with the strength staff in the offseason to kind of make himself a little more flexible and a little quicker to where he can be a little bit more of a running threat."
Make no mistake, CU coaches aren't trying to turn Liufau into former CU quarterbacks Darian Hagan or Kordell Stewart. They know he doesn't have that athleticism to consistently burn defenses with his feet. But they do believe the sophomore captain can be more productive this season on the ground and more of a threat to defenses by wisely picking his spots and making smart decisions when he is given the option to run on certain play calls.
Liufau ran for more than 600 yards and 18 touchdowns during his prep career in Tacoma, Washington. But that element of his game didn't show up much during his freshman season when he ran 40 times for 113 yards. Once sack totals were deducted, he finished the season with 43 yards rushing in eight games.
He's still looking for the first rushing touchdown of his college career.
"I don't think he's going to be Marcus Mariota out there, but there are opportunities when the pass isn't there where he can tuck it and go get yards for us, particularly on third down," Lindgren said. "Go create and make some plays for us when it's not there. And there will be some things we ask him to do in the run game reading some defenders and being a little bit of a run threat."
While Liufau prefers to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball despite the threat of getting hit, his backup, Jordan Gehrke, is much more likely to run either when a play breaks down or when he doesn't like what he sees in coverage.
When Gehrke gets into games this season, CU fans should expect to see more running from their quarterback.
Lindgren said CU coaches deliberately stayed away from running Liufau during his freshman season for several reasons. The biggest reason was their desire to keep him healthy. Late in the season he was fighting several nagging injuries that made the thought of using him in the run game even less desirable.
Coaches also lacked confidence last season that either backup Connor Wood or Gehrke could go in the game and lead the Buffs to wins. Lindgren said now that coaches do have confidence in Gehrke, they're more comfortable with the idea of Liufau running with the ball at times.
"Definitely, yeah, I think it allows you to be a little bit more aggressive," Lindgren said. "Knowing that if he went down that we have another guy that is capable, that's always kind of in the back of my mind."