Colorado needs Sefo Liufau to doff redshirt, return to starting job

While only four Pac-12 schools welcome back starting quarterbacks in 2016, seven of the remaining eight programs walked away from spring practices with a degree of clarity behind center -- as in, the starter will be either option A, B or, perhaps, C.

Colorado's QB situation, however, is more nuanced.

That's because the guy most folks believed in February would end up leading the Buffaloes offense -- Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb -- is now the frontrunner to win the job at California, courtesy of the flexibility of the graduate transfer rule.

Colorado needed Webb because three-year starter Sefo Liufau suffered a Lisfranc injury to his left foot on November 13, an unpredictable injury that can require an extended rehabilitation. The idea was Liufau would redshirt with Webb using one year in Boulder to catapult himself onto the NFL radar after leading the Buffs to their first bowl game since 2007.

Then, Liufau could return to the starting job in 2017. Or, perhaps, yield to a hotshot youngster.

Now Colorado's best hope in 2016 is Liufau's recuperative power, as it seems unlikely that redshirt freshman Steven Montez or senior Jordan Gehrke would be ready to lift the Buffaloes in the rugged Pac-12 South Division.

As can be expected, coach Mike McIntyre is choosing to see his QB glass as half-full.

"I'm expecting [Liufau] to have a phenomenal year," MacIntyre told the Buffzone.com. "I think he should have one of those years where everybody talks about Sefo in a positive stretch. I'm excited about seeing it."

Buffzone.com reported that Liufau "has been working out and throwing the ball with receivers," but how close to 100 percent he'll be by fall camp remains uncertain.

Liufau, even if healthy, is no sure thing, though his improvement has been steady, if in fits and starts. He's piled up big yardage totals and set school records but also has shown a propensity for not protecting the football, often at critical moments. Just like his team, he's been close to breaking through but ultimately has fallen short.

In fact, the now-thwarted enthusiasm for Webb almost feels like a person telling his buddy in the midst of a divorce how he didn't particularly like his spouse, only to be chagrined when his buddy and said spouse reconcile. Webb was celebrated as a guy who could provide playmaking consistency that Liufau perhaps couldn't.

Now Buffs fans need to fall in love with Liufau again and root hard for his quick recovery.