Back from foot injury, Liufau has Colorado off to 2-0 start
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Sefo Liufau has Colorado off on the right foot. That's particularly good, considering the senior quarterback's left one almost ended his career.
Ten months removed from Lisfranc surgery, Liufau is playing better than ever as the Buffaloes start the season 2-0 heading into their game at Michigan on Saturday. He's more patient. He's more focused. He's more determined.
There were times last spring, when he wondered if he'd taken his last snap for the black and gold. But his foot healed much faster than anticipated and he's back to setting more school marks.
To date, he owns or shares 78 Colorado records. He's also been voted team captain three straight seasons. But the number that truly drives him is this: zero bowl appearances over his career.
''I'll give up every record I have – all of them, just to win,'' Liufau said. ''All the pieces are here to turn this program around. We're doing that for the most part this year. It's still being written, but we have a great chance to be special and be a special team.''
Liufau injured his left foot in the first quarter against USC on Nov. 13 with the team driving for a score. He had surgery a week later for an injury that usually involves a separation of ligaments and joints in the foot and requires an arduous rehab.
The general timeline was out for around eight months.
The Buffaloes appeared to have a contingency plan, just in case Liufau couldn't heal in time. They announced in February that gunslinger Davis Webb would be joining the Buffaloes soon after graduating from Texas Tech.
It would give Liufau options – possibly even take a redshirt season to heal. Only, Webb spurned the Buffaloes and went to Pac-12 rival California.
There went that plan.
Liufau was thrust into the starting role again. No pressure, though.
''When all that happened, I was so far ahead of schedule, that I just kept doing the same thing I was doing before (Webb) got there,'' said Liufau, who went to high school in Tacoma, Washington. ''Nothing really changed with his decision.''
Coach Mike MacIntyre has a simple explanation for Liufau appearing more poised than ever: Love of the game.
''You cherish every moment,'' MacIntyre said. ''You cherish coming in every morning and having to get in the cold tub, because you couldn't do it before. You cherish putting on your cleats and your feet are sore because you've been running so much. You enjoy those moments where before you complained about them. That's what you see.''
Another explanation: Liufau took it up another level.
He worked out with his teammates during the week in the spring and then on weekends headed to Portland, Oregon – paying his own way – to hone his technique under the guidance of former Washington State and Canadian Football League QB Alex Brink.
Together, they improved little things to get him in a better throwing position.
''For him, it was really opening his eyes to the little nuances that help you be accurate, that unlock the power in your body outside of your arm,'' explained Brink, who's regarded as a QB mentor. ''He figured it out pretty quick.
''He's already a talented player. We're just adding that little extra piece to help him take that next jump.''
The results have been showing up on the field. He's thrown for 522 yards and three TDs in two games, with a 74.5 percent completion rate. He also earned the Pac-12's player of the week honors after leading Colorado to a 44-7 win over Colorado State.
''I'm definitely happy with the progress I've made this season,'' said Liufau, whose uncle, Jack Thompson, played QB at Washington State and was the third overall pick by Cincinnati in the 1979 draft. ''It's been a great first two weeks.''
Liufau's lists of records go on and on and include a little bit of everything:
– Most yards passing for a career (7,919) and completions (726)
– Most passing attempts without a TD pass in a game (57 at UCLA last October)
– Most 300-yard games in a career (8) and quickest score to start a contest (11 second at Arizona on Nov. 8, 2014).
– Lowest interception percentage career (.026)
– Highest pass efficiency rating for a game (157.2, at Cal on Sept. 27, 2014)
He's within reach of seven more school records, including most TD passes (nine away from surpassing Cody Hawkins' mark of 60).
''I'm on top of the world right now,'' Liufau said. ''I'm just thankful to be back.''
AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org