What have been your impressions of the offense during the first week-and-a-half of camp?
Brian Lindgren: “We started a little bit slow the first two or three practices and I think Sefo [Liufau] was a little rusty his first couple practice. I think he was really pressing and just wanted to come out and get back into it and make a bunch of plays. We sat down and talked and I think since then he has just enjoyed himself. Since then I think we've seen a steady progression and have been pretty excited with the momentum that we've had.”
It sounds like Liufau was given a green light from the medical staff in June and you haven't had to do anything to limit him during camp?
“Yeah, he has been going. In the off-season he worked with a private quarterback coach since we couldn't really work with him with a football. He did some good things with that and we haven't seen any limitations since camp started. If you didn't know he got hurt last year, you wouldn't know. He is moving great, hasn't really complained of any soreness so that has been a tribute to the work he put in between last November and now.”
Liufau started to establish himself as a real running threat last season. Is it is dilemma for you as a play-caller this year, in terms of whether you will limit his runs in order to limit his risk of injury?
“That is always in the back of your mind a little bit with any quarterback but that is a strength of his and we want to go attack and have him be aggressive and play ball. As far as we're concerned, he is 100 percent and we're going to roll him and do what we need to do to move the ball and score points. He got hurt on a passing play last year. That stuff happens. Obviously you want to limit the amount of hits he is going to get, and we have to be selective in where we are going to choose to run him, but again, that is a strength of his and he looks like he is running faster than he has in his career right now. Whether it be a scramble or a called run, I think that is something we are going to take advantage of.”
How close is the back-up quarterback battle between Steven Montez and Jordan Gehrke?
“Close. Shoot, Jordan had a great scrimmage the other day and Steven had a really good spring and has done some good things early on in camp. Jordan has a little bit of game experience, which helps him in that regard. That is something we're trying to figure out right now. We have kind of been splitting their reps with the twos and getting them in with the first group now and then. We'll see in the next week or so who we feel most comfortable with and then we'll coach them to be the back-up. We can go a little bit further in camp but I think when we really get into the game week of Colorado State, I think you want to know what guy is your back-up so he is able to get the reps to prepare himself. The third guy for us just doesn't take as many reps.”
When Darrin Chiaverini came in as co-offensive coordinator this winter, how did you guys collaborate and figure out exactly what your offense will look like in 2016?
“It was a give and take on both ends. He came in with a lot of good ideas. We had some stuff that has worked for us in the past that we really like. I think the biggest thing for us was to look at the personnel we have in our program right now and figure out what fits them best. What can we have for those guys that is going to take advantage of our talent? If you had a concept you really liked and it maybe didn't fit our personnel, we were able to kind of throw it away and focus on the stuff we felt like Sefo and the guys that have been here, Shay Fields and Sean Irwin and those guys, what they do well. That is how we shaped it.”
You will be calling the plays from up in the booth during games this season with Coach Chiaverini down on the sidelines. How do you anticipate your interaction with him working on game days?
“During the week will be huge. We'll game plan it and we'll develop the call, our ready list of plays, during the week. And then on game day, a lot of it will be in-between series. I'll ask, 'Hey, what do you like? What do you want to get to?' And then we'll go from there. But when you are calling it, in the midst of it, with the speed we're going, there is not a lot of time to do it while the series is going.”
Coach Chiaverini has mentioned that his personality is different than your personality, but he feels that is beneficial rather than a detriment...
“Yeah, I think it is great because we will have his energetic presence on the field. [Former Buffs receivers coach] Troy Walters and I, I felt, were very similar personality wise whereas 'Chev' is more of an outgoing, emotional guy. It has been good for our offense. I think having him on the sideline is going to be an energy that we haven't had.”
When you sat down and really evaluated last season, was red zone offense the biggest area you saw in terms of a negative?
“There were three things. The first one was red zone, and the second thing was taking care of the ball. I think we gave it away 21 times. I think Stanford gave it away 12 or 13 times, so we gave it away too many times. We have to do a better job of taking care of the football. And then third down percentage was the last one. We felt like our third down percentage had fallen from the previous year and we weren't able to sustain drives. We need to get ourselves in better third down situations, too. And so those have been kind of the three focus points in this camp.”
It sounds like you have tried to correct your red zone issues last season by practicing it more?
“Yeah, I think the best way to do it is just to go down there to the red zone. We went down there day one and we've done it every day. Looking back on last year, we got in the red zone and our touchdown percentage was really low. That is something we have to improve and we have talked a ton about that as an offense. We found some things schematically that I think fits our personnel that we can do to move the ball down there. We want to find a way to not put it in the field-goal kicker's hands and score touchdowns instead.”