Buffs' QB Situation Remains Unsolved
By Christopher Wuensch
Spring has sprung. The grass is riz … and we still don’t quite know who the Colorado Buffaloes’ starting quarterback is.
One thing is for certain. No one has the job yet. But at least the field has shrunk considerably — down to two from six candidates — after April 13’s Black and Gold Spring Game.
Nick Hirschman and Connor Wood, both juniors, appear to have emerged from the spring dust at the top of the depth chart.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre paired up Wood in the Black and Gold Game with the Buffs’ No. 1 wide receiver Paul Richardson, who returned to Buffs this spring after suffering a season-ending knee injury last April. The Gold-team duo accounted for 169 of Woods’ 205 passing yards (11 of 16 attempts), including an 85-yard touchdown.
And while Wood and Richardson flashed an immediate rapport, it was Hirschman who led two late drives to secure the Black Team’s last-second 17-16 win.
Hirschman finished 16 of 27 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Christian Powell helped him out by barreling 52 yards on a screen pass for the junior’s first scoring toss.
It was his 33-yard strike to Jeff Thomas, who sat out last season as a gray-shirted freshman, which pulled the Black team within two points at 16-14 with 1:38 remaining.
McIntyre then gave Hirschman the ball back on the 45-yard line and the opportunity to pull a rabbit from his hat. The junior completed 3 of 5 attempts, driving the Buffs to the 6-yard line, buoyed by a 33-yard catch by Josh Ford.
Seconds later, Justin Castor split the uprights from 26 yards for the Black team win.
In limited quarterbacking roles, Shane Dillon went 3 of 6 for 38 yards, John Schrock completed half of his four passes for 13 yards and the opposing Gold team claimed Stevie Joe Dorman’s only completion.
Dillon was a favorite by many to win the starting job, but Hirschman, Wood and Jordan Webb appeared to have eclipsed the redshirt freshman this spring.
Webb, unfortunately, helped to thin the QB herd after tearing his ACL on April 9 in practice. The senior will sit out the entire season. Webb threw for 1,434 yards and eight touchdowns last season as the Buffs’ starter. He was fighting valiantly to retain his job and looked to be among the frontrunner's. Now he’s forced to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.
Even with Webb out, the Colorado quarterback logjam will still spill over into the fall. Clouding the picture further will be the arrival of three-star recruit Sefo Liufau from Tacoma, Wash.
For now, it appears to be Hirschman and Wood’s job to win or lose. The rest of the field will likely be relegated to scout team duties or opt to transfer. Whoever wins the job should benefit from a vastly improved — and now somewhat deep — Buffaloes’ wide receiver corps, which features the return of the talented Richardson and Thomas as well as 2012 team receiving leaders Nelson Spruce and Tyler McCulloch.
But someone has to claim the job first. As of right now, that gig, like an errant pass, still is up in the air.