Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau throws a pass during warmups before Saturday's game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Liufau injured his right ankle during the second half.
Tony Ding / Associated Press
Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau throws a pass during warmups before Saturday’s game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Liufau injured his right ankle during the second half.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Sefo Liufau sat on the sidelines with ice on his right foot Saturday.

With its leader unable to play, the Colorado offense crumbled during a 45-28 loss to Michigan.

Now, the Buffaloes wonder if they’ll have Liufau on the field anytime soon, and if not, is Steven Montez ready to direct the offense?

CU reported Saturday that Liufau sprained his right ankle and that X-rays done at Michigan Stadium were negative. He was to be re-evaluated on Sunday, and CU said it would provide an update on Liufau’s condition on Monday.

If Liufau is unable to play when the Buffs (2-1) visit Oregon (2-1) on Saturday, they’ll give the keys of the offense to Montez, a redshirt freshman.

Should he get his first career start at Autzen Stadium, Montez said he’ll be ready.

“Most definitely,” he said. “I have confidence in the coaches that they’re going to get me ready and I think they’re confident in me that we’re going to go out there and do good things and go ahead and beat Oregon.

“I’m always ready to play. Whenever they put me in, whenever my name is called. I’m ready to play. I’m ready to go.”

Montez, however, knows he has to be much better than he was against the Wolverines.

Liufau’s injury deflated the Buffs, and Montez was unable to re-establish the confidence the offense had early in the game.

“When I went in there, that’s on me,” Montez said. “I have to get our guys going. I have to get our offense going to go do something and go score.

“I need to reassure the team that even if Sefo goes down, or even if he’s not healthy for next week, that they can have confidence in me to get the win and to go play well. I need to build on that.”

Montez entered the game with 10 minutes, 7 seconds to play in the third quarter and went 0-for-7 on his passes and lost four years on four rushes. He was sacked twice.

During the six possessions that Montez directed, the Buffs gained a total of 18 yards on 21 plays. Running back Kyle Evans gained 17 of those yards on four consecutive carries to end the game.

When Montez took over for Liufau, the Buffs were very much in the game, trailing 31-28.

To be fair, the game might have been different without a couple of drops.

On Montez’s first pass, the Buffs ran a flea flicker and Montez threw deep to George Frazier in the end zone. It was a high pass, but it hit Frazier in the hands before falling to the ground.

On Montez’s second pass, the Buffs faced a third-and-21 at the Michigan 40, and Montez flashed his arm strength by throwing across his body, on the run to Shay Fields. Michigan’s Dymonte Thomas had good coverage, but Fields was unable to haul it in. That one might have resulted in a first down.

Ultimately, however, the momentum was lost when Liufau left the game.

“We were rolling,” Montez said. “Everybody saw the Colorado team that we are in the first quarter and into the second quarter. That’s who we are, that’s who we work to be every week. We kind of just fell off a little bit, didn’t stay with the stuff we were doing and just got away from what we wanted to do.”

If Liufau can’t play this week, it’ll be up to Montez to make sure they don’t do that again.


In addition to Liufau, the Buffs on Sunday evaluated kicker Diego Gonzalez and linebacker Derek McCartney, who both left Saturday’s game with injuries. CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said after the game that Gonzalez tore his left Achilles tendon and would miss the rest of the season. McCartney left the stadium with ice wrapped on his right knee.

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.