Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Snapshot: CU offense
Brian Lindgren (4th season), co-offensive coordinator/QBs
Darrin Chiaverini (1st season), co-offensive coordinator/WRs
Klayton Adams (4th season), offensive line
Gary Bernardi (4th season), tight ends/fullbacks
Darian Hagan (1st season), running backs
5 key players
WR Shay Fields, Jr.
LT Jeromy Irwin, Jr.
RB Donovan Lee, Jr.
RB Phillip Lindsay, Jr.
QB Sefo Liufau, Sr.
Scoring: 24.6 ppg (Pac-12: 11; National: 97)
Total offense: 396.8 ypg (Pac-12: 10; National; 67)
Rushing: 156.2 ypg (Pac-12: 10; National: 86)
Passing: 240.6 ypg (Pac-12: 8; National: 49)
Sacks allowed: 41 (Pac-12: 11; National: 116)
3rd-down conversions: 36.1% (Pac-12: 11; National: 97)
Red zone scoring: 70.4% (Pac-12: 12; National: 120)
Numbers to know
2 – Current CU running backs with over 1,000 career rushing yards (Michael Adkins II, Lindsay)
6 – Number of Pac-12 games (out of nine) in which the Buffs were held below 90 yards rushing last season
75 – CU records set or tied by Liufau during his career
77 – Combined career starts for the Buffs’ returning offensive linemen
92 – Career catches, in two seasons, for Fields, ranking 18th on CU’s all-time list.
Throughout the offseason, the left foot of Sefo Liufau received quite a bit of attention.
While the Colorado quarterback spent countless hours rehabilitating an injury to that foot to get himself ready for his senior season, he also spent a boatload of hours on another key part of his body: his right arm.
Entering his fourth year as a starter, Liufau is on the verge of becoming CU’s all-time leading passer and he’s the most accurate thrower in program history. Yet, he knew he needed to be better.
“When I looked at all the film and the big mistakes I had, you break it down to why that happened, in terms of fundamentals,” said Liufau, who has thrown for 7,397 yards. “I went and got some extra help in terms of trying to fix those, and throwing to the left. It was mainly about focusing on the minor details because the minor details either win you games or get you beat.”
After injuring his foot on Nov. 13 against USC, Liufau missed all of spring ball. But, in addition to working on his throwing mechanics, he spent the time studying film and reshaping his body, going from 240 pounds to a trimmer, stronger 230.
Healthy this August, Liufau had his best camp as a Buff. Head coach Mike MacIntyre said Liufau had more accuracy and velocity on his throws than ever before.
“(During camp), I wanted to see him move on (the foot),” MacIntyre said. “He hasn’t had one single day where he’s been sore or worried about it. Then, I wanted to see how he was throwing, coming through and pushing off that foot. Everything has been good.”
Liufau said he’s more confident now, especially when it comes to throwing to his left side.
Two years ago, Liufau set dozens of passing records. Last year, he became much more of a running threat than he had been before. This year, the Buffs are hoping he can combine the two and become a bigger weapon overall.
“He’s able to be a dual threat and he’s able to keep the play going longer now,” MacIntyre said. “And he’s able to make some of those throws on the run better than he was before.”
After an offseason of uncertainty surrounding Liufau’s foot, the Buffs are eager to see how good he can be in his final season in Boulder.
“I’m very in confident in Sefo and looking for him to have an excellent year because I think the team has caught up to him,” MacIntyre said.
A quick look at each position on the CU offense:
Quarterbacks: Behind Liufau, redshirt freshman Steven Montez is likely to be the top backup, with senior Jordan Gehrke (68 career passes) also in the mix. True freshman Sam Noyer is talented, but the hope is that he’ll redshirt this year.
Running backs: Juniors Michael Adkins II, Donovan Lee and Phillip Lindsay have 2,514 career rushing yards between them and, if healthy, will battle for carries all year. Sophomore Kyle Evans and true freshman Beau Bisharat could also get opportunities to carry the ball. Redshirt freshman Dino Gordon will be suspended for at least three games (possibly more), but adds depth later in the year.
Tight ends/fullbacks: CU hasn’t used the tight ends much, but when given a chance, senior Sean Irwin, junior George Frazier and sophomore Dylan Keeney have come through. This group could become a bigger part of the offense this season.
Receivers: Despite a season-ending knee injury to junior Juwann Winfree, this should be an area of strength for CU. Juniors Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo and Devin Ross are expected to start and big things are expected. Sophomore Jay MacIntyre will be a weapon in the slot. Senior Jaleel Awini has moved to receiver and hopes to get involved, too. Transfer Kabion Ento is super athletic and could be an asset on the outside, while true freshman Tony Julmisse turned heads throughout camp. True freshmen Johnny Huntley III and Derrion Rakestraw hope to get on the field, too.
It was a tough 2015 for this group, but there are seven healthy returnees who played at least 119 snaps last year. Adding to that experience, the group had a great offseason and gained a lot of strength. Left tackle Jeromy Irwin returns from a knee injury. The Buffs also figure to start Gerrad Kough at left guard, Alex Kelley at center and Tim Lynott at right guard. Sam Kronshage could be the right tackle, but Shane Callahan and Aaron Haigler are also battling there. Jonathan Huckins and Sully Wiefels give the Buffs experienced backups.
QB – Sefo Liufau, Sr., 6-4, 230
RB – Phillip Lindsay, Jr., 5-8, 190
TE/HB – Sean Irwin, Sr., 6-3, 245
WR – Shay Fields, Jr., 5-11, 180
WR – Bryce Bobo, Jr., 6-2, 195
SL – Devin Ross, Jr., 5-9, 180
LT – Jeromy Irwin, Jr., 6-5, 300
LG – Gerrad Kough, Jr., 6-4, 295
C – Alex Kelley, Sr., 6-2, 310
RG – Tim Lynott, Fr., 6-2, 305
RT – Sam Kronshage, Jr., 6-6, 295
QB – Steven Montez, Fr., 6-5, 230
RB – Donovan Lee, Jr., 5-9, 180
TE/HB – George Frazier, Jr., 6-2, 260
WR – Kabion Ento, Jr., 6-3, 175
WR – Tony Julmisse, Fr., 6-1, 190
SL – Jay MacIntyre, So., 5-10, 185
LT – Shane Callahan, Sr., 6-6, 300
LG – Josh Kaiser, So., 6-5, 295
C – Jonathan Huckins, Jr., 6-4, 295
RG – Sully Wiefels, Sr., 6-3, 295
RT – Aaron Haigler, Fr., 6-7, 270
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.