“He has done a nice job of getting himself back,” Colorado co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren said of Liufau's recovery from his sprained ankle. “Last week we just didn't feel like he was quite where we needed him to be to do the things we wanted to do.
“We just didn't want to put him in a situation where he was out there and he wasn't 100 percent and he would re-aggravate it. So, yeah, he is doing a nice job and that is something we're kind of evaluating day-to-day.”
Throughout his college career, Liufau has always downplayed the significance of his injuries. His toughness has endeared him to the Colorado fan-base, and he is likely a shoo-in for the 2016 Buffalo Heart Award.
“He'll tell you he is fine but you watch him practice and you watch the film, and you can see he wasn't 100 percent,” Lindgren said. “We kind of had to sit him down last week and show him some of the clips from practice and say, 'This is where we feel you're at, and the trainers feel you're at.' And he understands, but he is such a tough guy it is hard for him.”
After Steven Montez took a hard hit late in the second half last Saturday, Liufau came into the game for seven plays, a possession that ended on a turnover on downs. Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre said Liufau did not have any setbacks in the brief action he saw against USC.
“When he ran that one time and got tackled from behind, I was a little nervous. But he got back up and it didn't irritate it any worse than it was,” MacIntyre added.
Montez was critical of his ability to push the tempo against the Trojans. The redshirt freshman completed 25 passes but only for 197 yards on 40 attempts.
With young quarterbacks, their development can often be a “two steps forward, one step back” situation. And certainly the USC defense was superior to the defenses Montez faced in his previous two starts against Oregon and Oregon State.
“He didn't play as well as he wanted to on Saturday, made some mistakes, but we made too many mistakes an an entire offense,” Lindgren said of Montez. “He did make some plays in the second half that kept us in the game and he continues to make some plays when things break down, which is good to see.
“For Steven sometimes right now, though, when he is getting pressured, he has to be able to hang in the pocket and keep his eyes downfield on the routes. Sometimes he is bailing a little bit too early. But as a young guy, I like the direction he is going. I think he is going to be a really good player.”
Additional notes -
*** Redshirt freshman right tackle Aaron Haigler was sidelined in the USC game and he will be out this week against Arizona State with an MCL sprain.
“We'll see how long that takes. Hopefully he'll be back the next week,” MacIntyre said.
*** Arizona State and Colorado were picked to finish fifth and sixth in the South in the Pac-12's preseason media poll, but the Buffs and Sun Devils enter this week tied for first place along with Utah in the division. Arizona is the only team in the South that currently has a sub-.500 record.
“I don't have a crystal ball but definitely everybody is capable, anybody can win it,” MacIntyre said. “Of course we want to win it, and every other team in the South wants to win it, so we're excited about what is in front of us.”
*** While Colorado dropped out of the AP and Coaches polls this week following its loss to the Trojans, the Buffaloes did receive votes in both polls. Arizona State did not crack the top 25 in the AP poll, but came in at No. 24 in the new Coaches poll.
“I looked at ASU all last night and early, early this morning. They are an aggressive, good football team,” MacIntyre said. “Todd Graham is an excellent coach. He does a great job with them. Defensively they are aggressive, they have good players offensively. Their two running backs (Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard) are big, powerful guys; really, really good. They are going to be hard to tackle.”
*** Graham announced Monday that quarterback Brady White is out for the rest of the year after suffering a foot injury in their last game against UCLA. The Sun Devils regular starter Manny Wilkins is still recovering from a high ankle sprain and his status for Saturday's game is up-in-the-air at this point. There is a chance Arizona State will be down to its fourth-string quarterback, true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole, when the Sun Devils battle the Buffs.
*** Colorado is going with its traditional look for Homecoming this week: