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Random Thoughts – Spring Game Edition – April 21, 2019

Buff Trivia Question of the Week … The announced crowd for the 2019 Spring Game was 7,550. What year saw the largest crowd for a CU Spring Game?

Bonus question … What was the last year – before this year – that Nebraska failed to have a single player taken in the NFL draft?

Random Thoughts – Spring Game Edition … 

Quarterbacks – both more and less concerned

Steven Montez was Steven Montez in the Spring game. The senior quarterback went 23-for-44 for 287 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Not bad, but not great.

As it stands, Buff fans can expect from Steven Montez in 2019 what they have seen for the past three years …

Not bad, but not great.

Montez continues to make some good throws, but he also overthrows receivers, and can at times take off from the pocket before scrambling is warranted.

“Good and bad,” the senior quarterback said of his own performance Saturday. “That’s how every spring game I’ve had has been. It’s been not too great, not God-awful, but not really good.”

The new CU coaching staff continues to sing the praises of Montez, so there is hope that a full summer and Fall Camp under the tutelage of Jay Johnson may still bring back the heroic Steven Montez, who was introduced to the Buff Nation in a stirring victory over Oregon in 2016.

We’ll see …

But in the meantime, the prospects for CU’s future at quarterback took a leap forward Saturday.

Junior Sam Noyer was excellent, completing 13-of-15 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns.  “I just more relaxed out there today,” Noyer told Neill Woelk at CUBuffs.com. “I felt like I could step up there, make the calls and then make plays. It felt like it came together today and it was a lot of fun.”

It was a lot of fun for Buff fans as well, who are breathing easier today when thinking about who will be the starter when the Buffs take on the Rams in Ft. Collins to open the 2020 season.

With Noyer, Tyler Lytle, and promising red-shirt freshman Blake Stenstrom in the fold, the quarterback position is less of a question mark going forward.

“I think they’ve really progressed,” offensive coordinator Jay Johnson told the Daily Camera concerning the Buffs’ quarterbacks. “I’ve asked them to do a lot of different things and I think they’ve come a long way. A lot of it is communication and understanding the wholeness of what we’re trying to do and get everybody on the same page. I think from when we first started to day 15, we’ve done that.”

It’s Nate Landman’s World. We just get to live in it … 

The week leading up to the Spring game, junior linebacker Nate Landman told the Buff Nation that he was taking over the defense.

“I love it. I love being a leader on a team,” Landman told the CU Independent. “I always saw that for myself when I first came here [and] wanted to prove myself and I feel like I’m doing that. I love taking the leadership role. I’m going to be a two-year starter now. This is my defense and I want to take control of it. I want to win with these guys, I have won with these guys and I know what we’re capable of. I’m just excited to lead them in the future.”

Landman backed that up with a team-best 13 tackles in the Spring game (five unassisted). His running mate on the inside is sophomore Jonathan Van Diest, who was second on the team in the game with nine tackles (six unassisted).

With a defensive line of suspect quality and depth, linebacker play is going to be a key to CU’s success in 2019.

So far, so good …

A Star is Born? … 

Last spring, Laviska Shenault, he of the seven catches as a red-shirt freshman in 2017, made a name for himself in the 2018 spring game with two touchdown catches and some impressive moves.

Several young Buffs may have taken the opportunity of the 2019 Spring game to introduce themselves to the Buff Nation.

Jaren Mangham. The name is still fresh in the memories of CU fans, as Mangham, a four-star recruit from Detroit, was perhaps the biggest signee from Mel Tucker’s first recruiting Class.

Mangham may not be listed atop the depth chart coming out of spring (that would be sophomore Alex Fontenot), but it will be difficult to keep Mangham off of the field as a true freshman this fall.

Mangham had 12 carries for 149 yards and three touchdowns, with scoring runs of 35, 22, and 65 yards (though one of the runs should have been blown dead at the 15 when Mangham was touched by a gray-shirted safety who was not allowed to tackle in the game … but we are picking nits here).

It was just a glorified scrimmage, and Mangham was running against the second-team defense, but he showed nice moves, breakaway speed, and the ability to “fall forward” when being tackled, an area of emphasis for the backs this spring.

Mehki Blackmon. The junior college transfer from the College of San Mateo, Blackmon isn’t exactly a new name on the roster. As a sophomore last season, Blackmon played in eight games, and had three starts at cornerback.

But with his two interceptions – including a pick-six against walk-on quarterback Josh Goldin – Blackmon made a name for himself in the Spring game, and will be getting plenty of playing time this fall.

“When we got the new staff, it was a new opportunity for everybody,” Blackmon said. “I’ve taken as much advantage of that as possible. Everybody got a fair chance from the beginning and I tried to put in a little extra every time I had the chance. They’re giving me a chance to make plays and I’m doing my best to make them.”

Daniel Arias. Arias had only one catch in 2018, but he made the most of it, going for a 37-yard touchdown against Washington. In the Spring game, the sophomore did his best Laviska Shenault imitation, collecting seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was definitely fun out there,” Arias said with a grin as he signed autographs after the game. “Coach (Darrin Chiaverini) just told me to go out there, be myself and have fun. I’ve been waiting for this moment. Now I have to watch film, see what I can do better and keep trying to improve. That’s always the goal.”

While we might not be seeing much of the Noyer-to-Arias connection in 2019, the combo does make for an enticing feel for 2020.

“We (Noyer) had some good chemistry,” Arias said. “I think we both really had good days. It was our day. From all of this, it feels good to be in synch with the QB. Just keep working, keep getting better.”

Dimitri Stanley/Maurice Bell. While not quite as spectacular as the numbers put up by Ariaa, sophomore Maurice Bell (six catches; 129 yards; one touchdown) and red-shirt freshman Dimitri Stanley (seven receptions for 98 yards and one touchdown) also had good games.

Stanley, the nephew of Walter Stanley, who for many years held the record for the most receiving yards in a game (222 v. Texas Tech in 1981) did muff a punt early in the game, but responded well.

Overall … 

The 2019 Black/Gold game was a lackluster affair in the first quarter, with no points, six punts, and a grand total of five first downs between the two squads.

Good defense, or bad offense?

Thereafter, however, there were points aplenty, with the Gold team (second-team offense; first-team defense) taking it to the Black team (first-team offense; second-team defense) by a final score of 55-27.

No team can be successful in college football without good – if not excellent – play from its quarterback, and Steven Montez did little to allay fears that he, like Cody Hawkins, Tyler Hansen, and Sefo Liufau before him, are good enough to set passing records, but not good enough to win games.

There were positives and negatives to be taken from the game, and plenty of questions:

The Buffs do seem to have a decent pipeline of players in the skill positions on offense, but will that be enough to win games in the Pac-12?

Will offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic find five starters who can dominant opponents?

Will the defensive line have enough warm bodies to handle opposing defenses?

Will the Buffs be able to find two new safeties who can manage CU’s last line of defense?

Will a true starter emerge at running back?

The uniforms are put away again for the next three months. The Buffs are off to hit the books for spring finals, then will begin an intense summer workout program. Come the first week of August, they’ll be back at it again.

“Everybody in America right now is working to get better,” head coach Mel Tucker said. “Everyone’s in the same boat. We have to make the most of each and every opportunity we have when we work out and when we meet. You can make a lot of strides in the summer and we plan to make a huge move this summer.”

We’ll be watching …

Buff Trivia Question of the Week … The announced crowd for the 2019 Spring Game was 7,550. What year saw the largest crowd for a CU Spring Game?

Answer: In 2008, after Bill McCartney made an impassioned plea to “Fill Folsom” for the Spring game, a crowd of 17,800 came to the game. CU has reported crowds of over 10,000 ten times in the history of the Spring game, the most recent coming in 2013, when 10,244 were in attendance.

Bonus question … What was the last year – before this year – that Nebraska failed to have a single player taken in the NFL draft?

Answer: That would be 1962. That fall, Nebraska began to turn things around under first-year head coach Bob Devaney, starting a sell-out streak that November at Memorial Stadium which continues to this day.

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5 Replies to “Random Thoughts – Spring Game Edition”

  1. I came away from the Spring Game with a little more confidence in our backup QB play. Sam Noyer looked like the real deal the way he was throwing the ole’ pigskin around. I would have enjoyed watching Noyer playing with the #1’s. He had some nice touch on his throws. Montez over threw his receivers on the majority of his throws.
    Montez will have an outstanding group of wide receivers to throw to. We all know about Shenault and Nixon. On any given Saturday, Maurice Bell, Dimitri Stanley, Daniel Arias, Tony Brown , Jalen Harris or Brady Russell could lead this team in receiving yards.
    Last Year, the coaching staff leaned on Laviska way tooooo often and I feel this lead to his injuries. Everybody in the stadium knew our plays would go thru Shenault and he was gang tackled on just about every play resulting in the Turf Toe injury that sidelined his 2018 season. With this excellent group of receivers, we have a chance of going over the 1,000 yard mark in one game. That should break a few NCAA records.
    Can’t wait for 8/30 to see how this team compares to last year. We won’t know until we play a common opponent from last year.
    GO BUFFS!!!
    Our young running backs looked pretty good as well. Mangham is a true beast and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is starting by the time Pac-12 play starts. Broussard, Smith and Fontenot all look like they have a legitimate claim to carry the rock as well.
    On the flip side, our 1st team o-line didn’t impress. They struggled to open holes
    for the run game. Pass Pro was decent. They are a work in progress. Hopefully they will gel before September. Does anyone know the status of Jake Moretti? If only he can get healthy and return to the form he had as a highly recruited high school player.

    1. Moretti is still on the mend. He may be physically healthy by the fall, but reports are that he won’t be in playing shape due to his surgeries.
      Hope he can make it back, but it’s getting harder and harder to see him making it all the way back.

  2. Quote of the day on Spring Game: VK: “Not going to the neighbors. He’s outta beer.”

    That’s the most germane statement about a spring game than I’ve heard in the past 20 years…… the writers DO have to come up with some fodder for all of us wanting to pull something rosy out of the spring game….. only to get disappointed when fall comes.

    Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    To quote McKinley Wright: SKO BUFFS !!!

  3. 58 for 536 = 55…………………..
    What Chev can do without the mickey anchor hanging on em.

    Damn that guy and his snowy buffalo and his gardening hat.

  4. Well the bad news for the Buffs is that the Kornholers got all there best players back……….
    hahahahahahahaha……………I love that one and I actually hate the corncobs.

    So in honor of the randomness of the world……………
    ——————————————————————
    Stu……….No team can be successful in college football without good – if not excellent – play from its quarterback, and Steven Montez did little to allay fears that he, like Cody Hawkins, Tyler Hansen, and Sefo Liufau before him, are good enough to set passing records, but not good enough to win games.

    Mein Gott that is so correct. And they sure can lose em. 2016 was wins by the defense..total

    Stu There were positives and negatives to be taken from the game, and plenty of questions:
    Sounds like my golf game

    Stu The Buffs do seem to have a decent pipeline of players in the skill positions on offense, but will that be enough to win games in the Pac-12?
    No and yes. Will totally depend on the coaching and all they need and can and want to bring. Lack of real coaching was indicative of the nothingness of the coaching staff the last 2 years

    Stu Will offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic find five starters who can dominant opponents?
    Yep and they will be pretty damn good too

    Stu Will the defensive line have enough warm bodies to handle opposing defenses?
    What? They got five coming in the summer. They will have more than plenty and they will be damn good too. Write it down!

    Stu Will the Buffs be able to find two new safeties who can manage CU’s last line of defense?
    This will require a considerable uptick in DB (CB and S) safety performance. At least when in star formation only 3 db'[s are needed. They got some good lb talent perhaps a double star formation. Okay 5 wide O may eat our boys up. DB cupboard was pretty bare when Mickey left. One could be a bit nervous here eh? Ray Robinson a S moved to linebacker. What happened to wallace. Lotta jc guys in the db ranks. Now wait they did get a bunch of interceptions yesterday so there is that.

    Stu Will a true starter emerge at running back?
    There will be a couple of true starters. Not worried here at all The talent is there period

    We’ll be watching.

    Sko Buffs.

    Note: Not going to the neighbors. He’s outta beer

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