It's way too early to predict who will start at quarterback for Colorado in 2013, but Nick Hirschman feels a lot more confident about chances today than he did a few months ago.
"Definitely," he said. "I started two games here, one on the road and one at home and I played fairly well in both of them."
In Friday's 42-35 loss to Utah in the season finale, Hirschman had mixed results. He completed 30 of 51 throws for 306 yards -- just the second 300-yard game by a CU quarterback this season -- and a touchdown. He also ran for a score.
He also threw four interceptions.
"He threw some picks, but the thing I'm proud of about Nick, he found a way to overcome adversity," CU offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. "He played well enough to put us in position to have a chance to win that game at the end."
In CU's ongoing quest to find stability at quarterback, that's a good thing. CU wasn't in position to win many games this year, but Hirschman looked good at times in both of his starts.
On Nov. 10 at Arizona, he completed 12-of-13 passes for 123 yards and an interception.
Friday, Hirschman staked the Buffs to a 28-20 lead going into the fourth quarter. But, in the final quarter, his first pass was intercepted, setting up a Utah touchdown. His final pass, with CU desperately trying to rally, was picked off, too. Utah, which had just four interceptions all year, doubled that in less than 60 minutes.
"Obviously I turned the ball over a lot and I put our defense in a real rough spot on three separate occasions," he said. "That's unacceptable and you can't win football games likes that."
Still, Hirschman believes that he grew as a quarterback this season.
He was locked in a three-way battle for the starting job in August camp. Junior Jordan Webb won the job, while Connor Wood went into the year second string.
Webb lost his starting job after nine games. He completed just 54.3 percent of his passes this year for 1,434 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Wood, who got one start, was 21-of-42 for 365, one touchdown and four interceptions.
Hirschman finished the year 55-for-93 (59.1 percent) for 589 yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions. He believes he developed quite a bit mentally and physically this season.
"I matured as a person more, too, and I think that's a big part of being able to play college football," he said.
Redshirt freshman Shane Dillon will get into the mix for the starting job, too, and that will add more intrigue to the competition. Hirschman said he's heard nothing but good things about Dillon, who has run the scout team all year, and he welcomes the competition.
"We're all very positive, we're a cohesive group and whoever is the guy who gets the job is going to be supported," Hirschman said.
Hirschman said he will graduate in June, so he could transfer to another school and play two years (like Webb did this year after transferring from Kansas), but said, "The thought hasn't even crossed my mind."
Bieniemy said that's good for CU, because Hirschman has developed into a solid option for the future.
"Nick has a lot of character and he just has a lot of competitive spirit about him," Bieniemy said. "Those are the attributes that you want. He kind of reminds me of Bobby Pesavento (who played at CU from 2000-01). He never was really pretty, but he found a way to get the job done."
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