The Colorado football team reached the halfway point of spring football Friday after completing its second scrimmage.
Coach Mike MacIntyre said he is pleased with the continued development of starting quarterback Sefo Liufau, particularly how he has tweaked the mechanics of his throws. But the most significant development at the quarterback position, and probably for the team as a whole, is that MacIntyre believes sophomore Jordan Gehrke has improved enough to keep Liufau on his toes.
"I would say he's being pushed. Both of them, I feel like, have done well," MacIntyre said. "... Sefo hasn't done anything to lose the job by any stretch, but it's exciting to see that Jordan is right there on his heels, not that far of separation because at that position, you better have a couple guys that can play."
Gehrke redshirted last season after transferring to CU from Scottsdale Community College. MacIntyre said after spending last fall on the scout team, Gehrke is gaining a better grasp of the CU offense this spring.
The first scoring play of Friday's scrimmage was reminiscent of the Super Bowl with the ball being snapped high and going out of the back of the end zone.
Then Liufau got on a roll.
He finished the scrimmage passing for four touchdowns covering 51, 23, 8 and 10 yards to four different receivers — two wideouts, a tight end and a running back. Liufau completed nine of 17 passes for 145 yards and no interceptions.
"I think I've progressed quite well actually," Liufau said. "There is things that you're not going to be perfect at and you still need to work on, but I think compared to last year, I'm doing a lot better."
Gehrke finished the scrimmage with 11 completions in 16 attempts for 128 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
MacIntyre has started a new system for rewarding players who deliver exceptional or uncommon effort in practices. When players make those kinds of plays and the coaches notice them on film, they are nominated for a gold jersey.
MacIntyre said the jerseys are awarded to players who earn them in front of the entire team and the video of the plays that earned the jersey are also shown to the team. Players who earn the jersey twice get to keep the jersey.
"If we can get everybody doing that, we'll be exceptional," MacIntyre said.
Liufau wore a gold jersey during the scrimmage Friday with a big U on the front and the word uncommon on the back where a player's name is usually found.
"He has very good command of the offense now and knows where to go with the ball," MacIntyre said. "That helps you, too. You're not late on a throw. You can anticipate better, which is extremely important at quarterback."
MacIntyre and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren asked Liufau to work on bringing his hip through his throws, rotating his torso better and not locking out his front leg as much during the winter months. MacIntyre said the improvements Liufau has made have helped him get more zip on his passes and be more accurate.
"I thought he was good before, but he's gone out and done the things coach told him to do in the offseason on his own and he's improved in that area," MacIntyre said. "So I was pleased with that."
Liufau said coaches have added some new wrinkles to the offense this spring but he doesn't believe the playbook has been wildly expanded because he is more experienced. He said he believes the entire playbook was open last season, there are just new elements that have been added this spring.
MacIntyre said in talking to his team before spring break, he emphasized that players do the right things no matter where they go or how they choose to spend their time. He said he also asked them to workout while they're gone. "They can't just go and sit on the beach all day," MacIntyre said. "They've got to do some stuff to prepare to come back." ... MacIntyre said he expects to have running back Christian Powell back after the break and that will allow the team to work more on heavy sets on both sides of the ball. ... Defensive back Yuri Wright might have had his best day as a Buff in the scrimmage. He led the defense with eight total tackles, including two for losses. He also broke up two passes. ... Safety Tedric Thompson intercepted a pass thrown by third-string quarterback Trent Sessions. ... The offense scored only two touchdowns in six times in the red zone.