BOULDER, Colo. >>Tyler Hansen can’t wait to get hit Saturday at Hawaii.
"I’m looking forward to it. I really haven’t been hit since October, so it’s going to be interesting," the University of Colorado senior quarterback said. "I think I’m going to enjoy it. I think it’s going to feel good. So, let’s go."
Hansen hasn’t played in a game since Oct. 23, when he was tackled so hard by Texas Tech linebacker Tyrone Sonier just as he pitched the ball to his tailback on an option play that his spleen was ruptured.
Surgeons had to remove a portion of the organ and his season was over.
He said he’s eager for that first hit this season "so I can say OK, I’m fine. I can take a hit."
Hansen was really hoping the new coaching staff would let him get hit once in camp to ease his mind in August, but new head coach Jon Embree would have none of it.
Hansen never saw the defender coming on that fall afternoon but he’s seen the play countless times since, and every time it makes him cringe.
"Curiosity. I just wanted to see it," Hansen said. "During the play I had no idea that guy was there. I didn’t even see the hit. During replays on the screen and people watching it, people were saying, ‘Oh, you got hit hard,’ and I had no idea.
"It was actually a couple of weeks later I saw the film and saw the hit and I was like, ‘Ooh, wow!"’
All Hansen remembers about the play was watching the ball go into tailback Rodney Stewart’s hands.
"I was pitching the ball and watching to make sure that Speedy got it. He caught it and I got hit, bam," Hansen said. "Immediately I was on the ground. I thought at first I couldn’t catch my wind, I was like, ‘I’ll be all right.’ Then, all of a sudden I started feeling pain, I couldn’t breathe. So I thought it was a broken rib."
X-rays at the stadium showed no breaks in his ribs, however, "and so I told them I couldn’t breathe, that it was painful to breathe and my left shoulder was hurting," Hansen recalled. "They said that’s pain from internal (organs) and you have to get to the hospital and take a CT scan, and that’s how we found out."
Surgeons removed one-fourth of his spleen. He said he recovered by the time the season ended and would have been able to play in a bowl game had the Buffaloes reached one, but they didn’t.
So, he’s had to wait about 10 months for that next hit.
"Hopefully that first hit is going to say a lot about how I play throughout the season," Hansen said. "I’m looking forward to it. I kind of want to get hit once and just get it out of the way. I feel like I’ll be comfortable, I’ll be fine. I’m wearing more padding too."
Hansen isn’t expected to take off and run as much in the Buffs’ new pro-style offense that relies more on him getting the ball into the hands of his speedy receivers and tailbacks.
"I think with the type of offense, what they’re asking me to do, I’m going to be the game manager, kind of get the ball out, let the playmakers get outside and let Rodney get after it and let them make the plays," Hansen said.
Hansen said he’s learned from the last hit and will be especially careful with his body because there are no bye weeks in the Buffaloes’ 13-game schedule in their first season in the Pac-12.
"It’s an NFL schedule," marveled offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
To make it through healthy, "I have to be smart at quarterback taking hits and knowing when to get out of bounds, knowing when to throw the ball away, stuff like that," Hansen said. "I have to be smart the way I play."
Although getting that first hit over with will be nice, Hansen’s real goal is to get that first win in 2011, and he’d love to leave Hawaii happy for the long flight home.
The Buffaloes have lost 18 straight games outside the state of Colorado, a big reason Dan Hawkins was fired.
"I think anything that kind of lingers from the past couple of years, like our road losing streak, it’s best for us to get rid of it quickly," Hansen said.
To that end, Embree is making sure this trip is about business, not beaches.
"The only beach they’ll see is when they land and take off," Embree said. "I’m telling you, it’s a business trip. It is. It’s a business trip. So they either have to get married and have a honeymoon there or maybe we go back there for a bowl game."
And whereas other coaches might have considered it taboo, Embree has been talking with his team about snapping the long losing streak since the spring.
"It’s important for this program that we end that," Embree said. "It’s important to the kids in this program to know that it’s not OK to lose 18 in a row. They need to know that when we end this streak it will never happen again."