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Buffs Sift Through Collection Of QBs

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Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

When you’re the quarterback of 1-11 team, you don’t typically play in many high-pressured games.

This spring, however, a sextet of Colorado signal callers might just find themselves needing the game of their lives to ensure their future in Boulder. And that still might not be enough to guarantee a roster spot come the fall.

Quarterback controversy. Log jam. Call the Buffaloes’ quarterback scenario what you will. No matter what you call it, the Buffs can’t dig themselves out of obscurity until it’s remedied.

Colorado’s depth chart can, potentially, include up to eight quarterbacks in the fall when new head coach Mike MacIntyre rolls out his Pistol Offense.

You can’t blame quarterbacks for fighting to line up under center for MacIntyre and new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren.

Last year, MacIntyre and Lindgren’s Spartans finished third in the nation in passing efficiency (170.26), sixth in the nation in passing with 332 yards per game and set 27 new school records on offense. San Jose State quarterback David Fales threw for more touchdowns (33 passing TDs) than the entire Colorado team scored (28) last season.

The Buffs, conversely, saw seven different players throw a pass in 2012 for an aggregate 192.5 yards per game, making them 96th in the nation.

Four quarterbacks who saw action last season are in camp this spring and figure to fight for a spot this fall — including Jordan Webb, Nick Hirshman, Connor Wood and John Schrock

Webb, a rising senior, led the Buffaloes’ last season with 1,434 yards in the air and as many touchdown passes (8) as interceptions. In fact — including the 19 games he started at Kansas before transferring last year — Webb has thrown 28 career touchdowns and 28 career interceptions. His career 4,513 yards at both schools translates to about 155 yards per game.

Webb re-injured his surgically repaired thumb this spring.

Nick Hirschman flashed some brilliance toward the end of last season and contributed 589 yards under center. But the junior threw seven picks in two less games and 172 fewer passing attempts than Webb.

Junior Connor Wood completed half of the 42 passes he threw in 2012, racking up 265 yards and a touchdown in the seven games in which he saw action. Walk-on sophomore John Schrock attempted as many passes (1) as tailback Tony Jones and wide receivers Nelson Spruce and Gerald Thomas.

Joining Hirschman, Schrock, Webb and Wood in spring camp is Stevie Joe Dorman, whose quarterback lineage cannot be ignored. The sophomore is the career passing leader in the San Antonio area and is the nephew of Heisman winner Ty Detmer and former Colorado standout quarterback Koy Detmer.

All five received plenty of reps in the spring. There’s a strong possibility, however, that none of the four will be on top of the depth chart when the Buffs kick off their season on Aug. 31 against Colorado State in Denver. MacIntyre would like to trim his options to three before the summer break.

The role of starter is largely believed to be Shane Dillon’s to lose. But even the former three-star recruit isn’t a lock at quarterback.

Dillon ran a similar Pistol-type offense at Christian (El Cajon, Calif.) High School where he accrued more than 6,600 passing yards and 45 touchdowns in roughly two years. The prep All-American with the quick release is tall, tough and was considered among the top-10 quarterbacks of the 2012 recruiting class.

He impressed the Buffs staff last season on the scout team as a redshirt freshman.

It stands to reason that three of the six quarterbacks in spring camp will remain on the roster into the fall. That’s when Sefo Liufau clouds the picture.

Liufau is a four-star talent and among the prizes of the 2013 signing class. He chose Boulder over suitors such as Oregon, Nebraska, UCLA and Washington, his home state where he was the No. 3 rated high school quarterback.

Liufau has the speed and arm to make an impact with the Buffs, and best fits MacIntyre’s Pistol offense.

Working against Liufau is that a true freshman has never started at quarterback for the Buffaloes.

Just when you thought the Colorado quarterback situation couldn’t get any murkier, MacIntyre might add another name to the jumble: Nelson Fishback.

MacIntyre originally recruited the quarterback at San Jose State, but Fishback opted for a year at Butte College instead. Fishback took an official visit to Colorado on March 22.

Even if Fishback takes his arm elsewhere, and if MacIntyre slims his staff after spring practice, Colorado will still enter the fall with four options at quarterback.

Despite the amount of players to line up under center for the Buffs in the last two seasons, no one has seized the starting role. As a result, April 13’s Spring Game will be the last game for several in the shrinking fraternity that is the Colorado Buffaloes’ quarterback club.