Eventually the Colorado football team is going to call upon Sefo Liufau to lead the Buffaloes with his arm.
On Saturday, however, the Buffs took it easy on their true freshman quarterback.
Against an overmatched opponent in Charleston Southern, Liufau wasn't asked to do too much, and he didn't do too much. But, he was impressive in how he guided the Buffaloes to a much-needed 43-10 victory.
"I thought he did a nice job of managing the game for us," CU offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said. "Overall with a first start, I don't think you can ask for much more."
CU fans got their first look at Liufau a week earlier when he came off the bench in a 54-13 loss at Arizona State. Head coach Mike MacIntyre anointed Liufau the starter after that game, and the freshman showed signs all week that's got the tools to lead this team.
Liufau spoke with poise and confidence at his first press conference on Tuesday. Then he spent the week working as hard as ever in preparing himself for the game.
It wasn't until Saturday morning, in the locker room, that Liufau actually felt some of the weight being put on his shoulders.
"I was maybe a little more hyped up, a little more jittery (before the game)," he said. "I think it finally hit me that I was starting."
During the game, Liufau never looked out of place, but the jitters were evident early on. His first pass of the game went into the dirt.
"I was like, 'Oh crud,' " MacIntyre said. "But he didn't let it affect him. He made a lot of good throws."
For the most part, Liufau showed poise in the pocket, made throws when he needed to and protected the ball.
"(The coaches) try to keep everything pretty simple for him to build his confidence," receiver Paul Richardson said, "and then we threw some things in there to challenge his IQ and he responded well."
Liufau also showed maturity in how he executed a conservative game plan.
Facing an overmatched opponent, CU could have used the game as an opportunity for Liufau to post some big numbers and gain some confidence with his arm. Instead, the Buffs chose what was best for them -- and Liufau.
"That's what you want to do," Lindgren said of allowing Liufau to throw the ball all afternoon, "but I think it was just the smart move, given the opponent and what they do on offense."
Unlike many of CU's opponents in the Pac-12, Charleston Southern's offense is based on running the ball and eating up clock. Considering that, plus Liufau's inexperience, the Buffs drew up a game plan that kept Liufau out of danger. He spent much of his day handing off to running backs Michael Adkins II and Christian Powell, who combined for 189 yards on the ground.
Liufau's final numbers were solid, but not spectacular: 14-for-20, 198 yards, one touchdown. But, he also had no interceptions, no fumbles and walked off the field with a win. He's the first CU quarterback to win his starting debut since Cody Hawkins in 2007 against Colorado State.
That, ultimately, was the most important fact of the day for Liufau.
"I'm just excited to play, to be honest," he said. "My main goal is to help this team win, and if that's running the ball 50 times then we're going to do it. If it's passing the ball 50 times we're going to have to do that, too.
"I'm very excited. Guys before the game, after game, just telling me to be yourself, go out there and play. It felt good going out there and being a leader and leading the guys to a victory."
If Liufau's actions to this point are an indication of things to come, he might lead the Buffs to a lot of victories during his career.