There are two competitions taking place this month at quarterback on the Colorado football team and the one consuming much of offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau’s attention is a bit of a surprise.
While Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen continue to fight for the starting job, Kiesau is trying to figure out which one of three true freshmen — Clark Evans, Gerry Slota and Seth Lobato — is most ready to serve as the backup to the backup.
After all, if either Hawkins or Hansen was to miss significant time with an injury this fall, one of those youngsters would be needed to run the second team in practice and might be called upon in a game.
Evans is the only scholarship player among the freshman quarterbacks. He was recruited to CU from Los Alamitos, Calif., and to this point in camp, he most often seems to be the first of the three freshmen to receive practice repetitions. Slota and Lobato joined the program as invited walk-ons from area high schools, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Evans has a built-in advantage.
Kiesau said the most consistent performer will earn the job.
“I will say that a lot of my focus is on the third guy rather than the first guy,” Kiesau said. “I think the first guy will handle itself on film. I do spend a fair amount of time with the threes because we do have to figure out who our third guy is.”
Game day for the team is less than three weeks away and game week preparation starts two weeks from today. Neither Kiesau nor coach Dan Hawkins is ready to set a timetable for naming starters and reserves.
“We’ll see. We’re going to let it play out,” Hawkins said when asked about a timetable for naming the starter. “We don’t really have one.”
The Buffs have two more scrimmages scheduled in fall camp. One comes Thursday and the final scrimmage is scheduled for Aug. 29. Kiesau said coaches could wait until after that to make either decision.
Hawkins and Hansen have been competing for the job since the start of spring football back in March. Hawkins emerged from spring with an advantage, according to former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, who took the same job at Oregon.
Kiesau is now the man doing the evaluations and if one player has taken any kind of lead in his eyes, he isn’t saying so.
“They’re both battling well,” Kiesau said. “I mean, every day is a new challenge. Cody will have a good day. Then Tyler has a good day. It’s kind of back and forth, but we’re not near a decision right now.”
It’s possible another quarterback could be added to the mix at some point this month. Josh Moten, a talented athlete from California, was promised a shot at the quarterback position during recruiting. He hasn’t reported to camp yet because he had to re-take his ACT to qualify academically. He is waiting at home for the score.
Kiesau said the three freshmen are somewhat overwhelmed at this point trying to learn the entire offense and lead it efficiently with few mistakes. It’s a challenge made even more difficult this year because of the change in coaches.
Kiesau said he demands more from the quarterback pre-snap than used to be asked from the position under Helfrich.
“For a freshman to come in and throw the ball all over the yard would take a special person,” Kiesau said. “I’m not saying it can’t be done, but there is just a lot on the quarterback.”
Kiesau said none of the freshmen played in an offense in high school that is similar to what the Buffs do, meaning none of the three has an advantage in familiarity.
Dan Hawkins said the team will elect captains later this month. … Wide receiver Will Jefferson and defensive linemen Nick Kasa, Nate Bonsu and Forrest West were true freshmen Hawkins named as having a good chance to play right away this season. … Hawkins said redshirt freshman Ray Polk has looked “awesome” so far in camp making the transition from tailback to safety after two offseason shoulder surgeries. … Hawkins said the defense “got a little swagger going” Sunday during what might have been the best overall practice to this point in camp on that side of the ball. … The Buffs have two practices scheduled for today.