Jack Thompson began tutoring Liufau six years ago, when Liefau was a junior at Bellarmine Prep. Alex Brink began working closely with Liufau this past spring.
“I know Sefo very well -- his father, Joe, is my cousin and we still get together every year when Sefo comes home on break," said Thompson. "When Joe was looking for a more full-time QB tutor this past year, he was looking at guys all around the country. I told him he needed to hire Alex Brink. I believe Sefo's significant improvement in his fundamentals can be directly attributable to Alex's tutelage."
Brink said he and Liufau worked closely in the Portland area over a couple weekends in May and June, and then Brink went out to Boulder in July for another weekend's worth of training. They have since talked almost weekly.
“Jack connected us, and Sefo had a ton of physical ability but he was coming off the (Lisfranc foot injury) and was rusty from the layoff," said Brink. "So there was a ton of stuff to get done and in the course of the time we spent together.”
Back when they started, Liufau told Brink one of his main concerns was making "wow" plays, but he was missing routine throws that should be automatic, Brink said.
“That was a lot of my role: giving him a framework to find more accuracy, be more fundamentally sound,” said Brink. “But also it was about giving him his confidence back coming off the injury, some validation that he WAS doing so many things right.”
Liufau comes into Saturday's 12:30 pm Pacific time game on Fox leading the No. 10-ranked team in the nation. He is averaging 192 passing yards per game and completing 67.2 percent of his passes (third-best in the Pac-12 behind Luke Falk and USC's Sam Darnold). He is No. 4 in the conference in passing efficiency behind Jake Browning, Darnold and Falk.
Brink said another part of his work with Liefau concerned mental outlook. Last spring there was talk Texas Tech's Davis Webb -- who landed at Cal -- might transfer to Colorado and Liufau wanted to be sure he had done everything he could, physically and mentally, to prepare for his last college rodeo.
“From my experience in college, in having gone through the ups and downs, I wanted to impress on him he wasn’t alone in battling back through adversity. Because it can get lonely when you’re ‘the guy’ and things aren’t going like you want. And Sefo had battled a lot of adversity already over his first three years. Now he was coming off the injury headed into his senior year … the adversity he’s faced and overcome is incredibly impressive,” said Brink, who concluded his WSU career at No. 1 in passing yards and TDs.
Brink is headed out to Boulder this weekend for the big game and will meet with Liufau sometime over the weekend.
Since Brink is a Coug, any chance he'll meet with Sefo before the game and offer up some game-losing advice?
“I’m battling that,” Brink laughed. “I want the Cougs to win. But hopefully Sefo plays well. He’s an NFL prospect and physical talent. There’s no doubt about it. I think he’s got a pretty bright future after this season.”
- Brink also tutors a pair of former Oregon prepsters now in college: Liufau’s Colorado QB teammate, Sam Noyer, and Eric Dungey of Syracuse. Brink also tutors future Cougar QB Connor Neville, among others. Brink is the founder of Portland-based EForce, a sports performance business.
- Colorado was the only Pac-12 school that offered Liufau a scholarship coming out of high school. Mike Leach offered him a preferred walk on invitation. The Cougars landed two quarterback in that recruiting class: 4-star prospect Tyler Bruggman, who is now at Montana State, and invited walk on Luke Falk.
- Sefo’s father, Joe, is an Army veteran who is now a regional director for Wounded Warriors.
- Sefo's head coach at Bellarmine, Tom Larsen, is an old Coug. He was a starting guard at Washington State when Jack Thompson was breaking NCAA passing records.