After taking over the starting quarterback job midway through the 2013 season, Sefo Liufau would appear to have a firm grip on the job going into this season.

Liufau is, after all, the only quarterback on the roster to have played in a game for the Buffs, and he played fairly well as a true freshman last season.

Liufau also has the public endorsement of his head coach, Mike MacIntyre, who has always said emphatically that Liufau is the starter.

Meanwhile Jordan Gehrke is doing his job by making sure Liufau doesn't get too comfortable.

"He's a competitor and he's always fighting and he's pushing me right now," Liufau said of Gehrke. "He's no slouch as a quarterback."

As the Buffs (4-8 in 2013) have gone through fall camp this month, one of the bright spots has been the emergence of Gehrke, a redshirt sophomore who is light years ahead of where he was a year ago.

"Last year, I was honest with Jordan and said, 'I don't know if I would have been very comfortable putting you out there,'" CU offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said. "Now, there's no question. I think the way he's done, I'd be excited to watch him play."

Chances are pretty good that Lindgren will get a chance to see Gehrke at some point this season. MacIntyre has said he's never gone through a season with just one quarterback. Cody Hawkins, in 2007, was the last CU quarterback to take nearly every snap (backup Nick Nelson threw just six passes).


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"I'm so excited," said Gehrke, who transferred to CU in 2013 after one season at Scottsdale Community College. "I can't wait for my first play, even if it's mop-up time, handing the ball off."

The way Gehrke has progressed, his playing time might be a little more significant than that. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder is trying to prove he can help the Buffs win games.

Lindgren made it clear that Liufau is the starter, but couldn't be more pleased with what Gehrke has done this fall.

"I think Jordan is pushing (Liufau) every day," Lindgren said. "We've been running him with the (first-team offense) a little bit and there has been some days where Jordan has gone in there and we've operated really smooth on offense.

"There have been some days where Jordan may have played better than Sefo, and he's capable of doing that."

A year ago, that wasn't the case. While Gehrke was technically in competition for the starting job, he was clearly behind Connor Wood and Liufau.

"He had just got here and was kind of still learning the system," Lindgren said. "You could see he was just thinking a lot out there. I don't think you were able to see his full range of abilities.

"He'd make a really good play last fall camp and then he'd make three bad ones."

Gehrke was frustrated with those ups and downs last year, and wound up redshirting. Since the end of the 2013 season, however, he has taken giant leaps forward.

"My comfort level is great," said Gehrke, who turned some heads during spring ball. "That whole redshirt year definitely paid off. Every day I w as making sure I was studying the offense, and the chemistry with the guys is perfect."

Gehrke is more mobile than Liufau, but that got him in trouble at times last year. Now, Gehrke said he's learning when to use his feet.

"I think I've really dialed it down to where I'm making smart decisions if I do decide to improvise," he said. "

As for the decision to come to CU, Gehrke said he has no regrets. While there is a chance that Liufau does hold the job for the next three years, Gehrke said he believes CU is where he belongs.

"God put me here for a reason and honestly every day I battle and I know this is the right place for me," he said. "I'm just going to take any opportunity I get and I'm just going to run with it.

"There's a lot of feelings towards (sitting behind Liufau), but one is that I'm definitely motivated. As a backup any day could be your day. When you go in, you have your opportunity."

That opportunity could come in mop-up time, in the middle of a close game, or in a starting role. Either way, he said he'll be ready.

"I'm prepared and I know the offense," he said. "I guess we're just going to have to wait and see."

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.