August 12, 2016

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Davis Webb's change of heart might lead to a change of fortunes for the Colorado football team and coach Mike MacIntyre in 2016.

The Texas Tech quarterback spurned the Buffs at the last minute when the graduate transfer who had committed to the Buffaloes decided to play his final season at Cal instead.

Without Webb, there's added urgency for senior Sefo Liufau to come back strong from the season-ending foot injury he sustained Nov. 13.

''He's made all of his benchmarks and done everything he's been asked. He even trimmed down some more. He lost a little more body weight and gained a little more muscle,'' MacIntyre said. ''He's taken advantage of the situation. We've had no issues so far, but I need to knock on wood for sure.''

Had Webb come to Boulder, the Buffs might have been able to redshirt Liufau so that he could come back fully healthy in 2017.

MacIntyre is counting on Liufau coming back better than ever this year, however.

''I look for him to have an excellent year,'' MacIntyre said. ''In his sophomore year, he threw the ball well. Last year, he was running the ball well. ... I think that this year he'll put all of it together and have a phenomenal year and walk out of here the way he should with what he's earned and the victories he needs to get.''

MacIntyre's future could depend on it. Reaching a bowl game for the first time since the 2007 season could go a long way toward turning around the moribund program.

''I've heard that since the first year I got here. When you haven't gone to a bowl game in a while, that's always the first thing said. Our goal for our players is tomorrow's practice,'' MacIntyre said. ''We want to win every game we play, we really do. I definitely feel like we have the opportunity to do that.''

Here are some other things to watch for in 2016:

KEY GAMES: Colorado State, Sept. 2; at Michigan, Sept. 17; Utah, Nov. 26. The first is the big rivalry, the second a chance to kick-start the program against a perennial national power and the third a big game because it's a budding rivalry that the Buffs hope replaces the old showdowns they had with Nebraska.

DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE! Senior defensive back Chidobe Awuzie will lead a reinforced defense this season. ''I expect to be really good on defense,'' MacIntyre said. ''Chido is definitely a leader on defense, he's what you would call a true playmaker on defense. People come up to me all the time and say, `Golly, he's all over the field.' Well we put him all over the field and he also has the ability to make plays all over the field. He's a key ingredient in our defense and we definitely build things around him depending how we play certain teams.''

LIUFAU'S IMPACT: The Buffs named Liufau a captain for the third consecutive year. ''That's only been done twice in history and the last time was 1893,'' MacIntyre noted. ''That's huge. I think that answers the leadership side of it.''

PREDICTION: 4-8. Although, this team does have that we'll-show-you look. ''That's what I see,'' MacIntyre said. ''We need to see it on Saturdays when we show up, but it's in their mindset for sure.''

SEASON OPENER: Colorado State on Sept. 2 in Denver. ''The opening game is always a lot of fun; there's always a lot of hype for the opening game anywhere in the country,'' MacIntyre said. ''That's always exciting, but when you play a rival in the very first game at a neutral site, it's a unique experience and puts a little more hype and emotion on it. Playing that football game is a big deal. It's one that our players hear about for 365 days a year. You don't hear about every other game 365 days a year. That puts a little more of an emotional tie to the game than most games.''

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AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org

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