Analysis

As a backup quarterback, Cade Apsay isn't used to getting hit, because Colorado defenders aren't allowed to hit their quarterbacks in practice.

Apsay got used to it in a hurry on Friday night, though. Subbing for injured starter Sefo Liufau, Apsay was sacked five times in CU's 27-24 loss to Southern California.

"I was expecting it to hurt a lot more," he said. "I was a little scared to get hit from behind, and when I finally did the first time, it wasn't as bad as I thought it to be."

Overall, Apsay's performance wasn't too bad. He completed 18 of 23 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns in helping the Buffs (4-7, 1-6 Pac-12) have a chance to pull an upset against the Trojans (7-3, 5-2).

"I think it was OK. If I would give myself a grade, it would be average, like a C or something," Apsay said of his first extensive action as a collegian. "There's a lot of things I could do better, execute better. It was OK. I can do better, for sure."

The Buffs are going to need him to be better during the next two weeks, because it's going to be a while before Liufau plays again.

Liufau, CU's ultra durable starter for the past three years, suffered a Lisfranc injury to his left foot when he was sacked on the final play of the first quarter Friday night. He's expected to be sidelined for six to eight months.

Now, the Buffs find themselves needing to replace a quarterback who is just 13 yards shy of becoming CU's all-time leading passer.


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Head coach Mike MacIntyre didn't fully commit to Apsay, a redshirt freshman, on Friday night, leaving the door open for redshirt junior Jordan Gehrke.

"We'll talk about that tomorrow and hash that out a little bit," MacIntyre said. "If I set it today, it would probably be Cade. But, we'll see how a week of practice goes. We have to have them both ready, because Jordan is one snap away from being out there."

More than likely, it'll be Apsay taking snaps when the Buffs visit Washington State on Saturday.

"It'll definitely intensify," Apsay said of his preparation for this week. "I was always studying film, watching film, asking questions in meetings. Now, it'll definitely be more film, more questions, just much more focused."

Focus is something Apsay was missing early in the year. He was suspended for the first two games for a violation of team rules.

MacIntyre said, "It's the 18-year old growing up. We all have those times in our lives."

After the suspension, Apsay went to work and eventually passed Gehrke on the depth chart.

"At the start of the season, I had to get my priorities straight," he said. "Ever since things have fallen in place. Hard work pays off."

More hard work is ahead for Apsay to get better.

He has shown off his good arm, but has taken a lot of sacks in his limited experience. He's played four quarters the last two weeks and has taken eight sacks, or once every 3.5 throws. By comparison, Liufau was sacked once every 15 throws this year.

"(Apsay) should have got the ball out of his hands a couple of times a little bit quicker on some quick-gain things," MacIntyre said. "He'll learn that on film. You have to learn that by playing. It's sad, but you do.

"He'll see it on film and go, 'I understand that now and I get it.'"

The Buffs are hoping he gets it, because in order to finish the season strong, they're going to need Apsay to play well.

Senior receiver Nelson Spruce, who caught Apsay's first career touchdown pass on Friday, has no worries.

"I'm excited to see what he can do the next two weeks," Spruce said.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.