Spring Practices Analysis – Quarterbacks

Colorado has concluded its spring practices, with three of the 15 practices open to the public, including a “Spring Showcase” which featured a glorified scrimmage instead of a Spring game.

While information has been limited, there have been notes and quotes aplenty. Over the next few weeks, we will review each unit on the team, along with analysis as to whether Buff fans should be C+ … Confident; C … Cautiously optimistic; or C- … Concerned.

Quarterbacks

Notes … In the Spring Showcase, junior quarterback Steven Montez completed 8-of-15 passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns, but also two interceptions. He also led the team with 43 yards rushing on three carries and had the only run of more than nine yards. Red-shirt freshman quarterback Tyler Lytle had the most opportunities of the backups, completing nine-of-13 passes for 81 yards, with sophomore Sam Noyer going just one-for-four passing for four yards.

Quotes … “I think this is probably the most comfortable I’ve been in the offense since I’ve been here, just knowing what everybody’s doing,” Montez said. “Like helping players line up when they don’t know how to line up, telling them what route they’ve got, talking to the O-line, getting everything worked out. I think this is most comfortable I’ve been.”

New quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper said he has seen growth in that area just in the short time he has been here.

“Steven’s got command of the offense, he really does,” Roper said. “It doesn’t mean that we’ve arrived by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s got a lot of confidence and understanding on the football field and he tries to take direction of the team. He made some really good throws.”

Overall, Montez said, Roper is no doubt helping him improve his game.

“Him coaching me up, me learning and taking his feedback and applying it to the game, it’s making me a better player,” Montez said. “I’m really thankful of that.”

Analysis … While Tyler Lytle has made an impression on many Buff fans, and may well move past Sam Noyer on the depth chart heading into the 2018 season, there remains little doubt that Steven Montez is the starting quarterback for Colorado.

At the end of the day, Mike MacIntyre, entering his sixth season at Colorado (and, arguably, in need of a winning season to return for year seven) is not going to bench a starter with 17 games of Power-Five conference experience for a red-shirt freshman who hasn’t thrown a pass in a collegiate game.

But that doesn’t mean that there are not question marks about whether Montez has taken the steps necessary to become an elite Pac-12 quarterback.

The spring showcase is too small a sample of Montez to make any conclusions, but his back-to-back interceptions during the scrimmage were enough to make Buff fans wince. On the first, Montez threw into double-coverage, with the pass easily picked off by safety Kyle Trego. On his next opportunity, Montez was picked off by linebacker Carson Wells, who dropped back to step in front of a short pass to the flat.

Montez say he now recognizes the seriousness of studying film and embracing the full-time duty of being a starting quarterback at this level. For that, he credits Roper, who has said he preaches to his players that being a quarterback is not a position, it’s a lifestyle.

“He’s definitely changed my mind about a lot of those things,” Montez said of Roper. “A part of me getting comfortable inside the offense is knowing what the defense is doing. You can know what your side is doing all you want, but once dudes start moving around in coverage and you don’t know what’s going on, then you kind of get in trouble.”

An increase in film study has given Montez a greater understanding of defenses than he had last year.

“I break down every single clip that we have of my reps,” he said. “I have a notebook and I write: was it a plus or minus on the decision making; what was the coverage; what was the outcome; any corrections on the play; and what the actual play was.

“I do that for every play for every practice.”

Then there is the question of leadership.

Many questioned the athletic ability of Sefo Liufau, but no one questioned his leadership or heart.

Steven Montez, meanwhile, remains a work in progress.

“I think he’s a vocal leader,” Roper said. “They can’t be somebody they’re not, and he is a guy that has some emotion to his game. We have to control some of that at times, but you have to be who you are.”

Montez has always been the type of player who treats football for what it is: a game. He has fun with post-game interviews and flashes his fraternity hand signal when he scores touchdowns. To some, those are signs of immaturity, but even head coach Mike MacIntyre has said this winter that he sees Montez simply having fun.

“I’m not going to come in and treat it like it’s a 9-to-5 job and be miserable here and not talk to anybody and not laugh and mess around, because it’s a game,” Montez said. “It’s a business, but it’s also a game. It’s a game for us, and I enjoy doing it.”

It’s a game … but Montez needs to do enough to win those games.

Grade … C … Cautiously optimistic … 

One Reply to “Notes and Quotes – QB’s”

  1. Not worried about the 2 Montez picks in the spring game. The one into double coverage was concerning but:
    1. The O was vanilla and the D was able to take advantage of that.
    2. Montez knew there wasnt a lot of pressure and was probably looser and not as focused as he would have been in a PAC game. The dunk kinda showed that.
    I didnt mind the dunk either. I dont want him playing with paralysis through analysis in real games. Loose but focused.

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