Sophomore Nick Hirschman won last week's practice competition to determine Colorado's starting quarterback at Arizona, but concussion symptoms could prevent him from making a second consecutive start.
Coach Jon Embree said on Monday that Hirschman will go through the prescribed battery of tests for players with concussion symptoms before a decision is made on Hirschman's availability for Saturday's game against Washington (11:30 a.m., Folsom Field, FX).
Outfitted in sweats, Hirschman watched Monday's short practice but did little else. "We'll see how many reps he can get (over the next three days) and how he's feeling," Embree said.
If Hirschman is not cleared to play or does not get enough practice work to sufficiently prepare him for the Huskies, Embree said sophomore Connor Wood would get Saturday's start. Embree added that junior Jordan Webb, who opened in the Buffs' first nine games, also "could be in the mix."
Hirschman and Wood, said Embree, "played well and managed the game well" in last weekend's 56-31 loss at Arizona. Hirschman left the game in the third quarter having completed 12 of 13 passes (one interception) for 123 yards. Wood replaced him and completed four of seven passes for 90 yards and his first collegiate touchdown pass.
"He made some good throws to give us a chance," Embree said of Wood. "It would have been nice to get that one at the end, when he had Gerald (Thomas) open in the end zone."
Webb did not play in Tucson, but walk-on redshirt freshman John Schrock got in for the final snap.
LOCKER ROOM NOT DIVIDED: Embree contended that the Buffs' string of six consecutive lopsided losses has not created turmoil within the team or causing individuals to quit.
"That's not an issue; guys are preparing and working hard," he said. "We just didn't play well on one side of the football (at Arizona). It's not a blame game or anything like that. The offense didn't play well against Stanford and the defense kept us around for a while there.
"So, both sides of the football have had their moments . . . like Fresno State, unfortunately it's not just this or that. Both sides have had their moments. The problem is when both sides play well, it's got to be at the same time - at least in the same game."
That hasn't happened during the last six losses as CU has dropped to 1-9 overall and 1-6 in the Pac-12 Conference.
Embree said he emphasized "moving forward" in Monday's team meeting: "That's the one thing about sports - you're almost forced to start thinking about the next opponent, good and bad. There's times when you win you want to enjoy the win. You can't because there's an obstacle in front of you the next week.
"I talked to them about that, talked to the defense about two games to redeem yourselves and put yourselves in a position you're proud of. Offensively, I talked about humility . . . we haven't arrived; there are a lot of things we can do better."
ABRON GETS AN 'A' FOR ARIZONA EFFORT: Freshman tailback Donta Abron showed up well on Saturday (13 carries, 83 yards, one TD) in his first extended action.
"He's just getting comfortable with the speed of the game," Embree said. "It took a while for him to get going." Embree was particularly pleased with Abron's TD run: "He stayed in bounds, he fought . . . he's a strong kid and has got a good lower center of gravity. He was impressive. We thought when we signed him we were getting a special player. He'll just continue to improve. Same with catching the ball."
Embree said Abron, Christian Powell and Tony Jones "give us a nice combination" at tailback. "We're able to bring different bodies in there and give defenses a different look - and keep guys fresh. You need more than one. It's good to have all three of them."
CU finished with its highest rushing output of the season - 225 yards. The 235-pound Powell carried 32 times for 137 yards and a pair of TDs.
BUFF BITS: With two games remaining, CU likely will finish the season without its practice bubble going up. Embree has admitted in the past that he's a fan of practicing/playing outdoors in the elements, but he said that's not the reason the practice bubble hasn't yet gone up. Word Monday was that some of the off-campus crew responsible for putting up the bubble in seasons past was called away to help with repairs on the East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The bubble usually goes up in mid-October. Said Embree: "It wasn't my doing." . . . . For a couple of days a week for the past two weeks, the younger Buffs have been getting extra work after practice. Freshmen who are redshirting who have caught Embree's eye include quarterback Shane Dillon, tight ends Sean Irwin and Austin Ray, fullback Clay Norgard and defensive back John Walker. He also mentioned sophomore transfer Jordan Murphy.