Spring Practices … First Look: Quarterbacks

Program Note … Spring practices will begin March 18th (Spring Game: April 27th), so over the eight weeks, previews will be posted for each unit of the 2019 Colorado roster.

Up first: Quarterbacks …

The roster: 

QUARTERBACKS (4 scholarship):

Seniors: Steven Montez
Juniors: Sam Noyer
Sophomores: Tyler Lytle
Redshirt freshmen: Blake Stenstrom
True freshmen: None

The stats (2018):

Steven Montez … 258-of-399 passing (64.7%), 2,849 yards … 19 touchdowns; nine interceptions … 94 carries for 238 yards, four touchdowns (includes 30 sacks for 184 yards lost)

Sam Noyer … 8-of-14 passing (57.1%), 60 yards … no touchdowns; two interceptions … four carries for minus-8 yards

Tyler Lytle … 4-of-5 passing (80.0%) … no touchdowns; one interception … four carries for minus-14 yards (includes three sacks for minus-22 yards lost)

Revolving Door in the Quarterbacks room

When spring practices opened in 2017, the Buffs were riding high. Colorado had won ten games the season before, and were the defending Pac-12 South champions.

In the quarterbacks room, sophomore Steven Montez was the presumptive starter, with co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren his position coach.

A year later, Brian Lindgren was gone. Steven Montez, now a junior, remained the starter, but now Montez and his fellow Buff quarterbacks were being coached by Kurt Roper.

“He has to be a playmaker,” said Roper about his quarterback last spring. “You can’t have a game manager. I don’t believe in that. You have to have quarterback that makes plays, but there’s a lot more that goes into it than just the play end of it. The relationship runs deep. You spend so much time together, that player has to know that you have his best interest in mind and that you are going to protect him in situations.”

Fast forward another 12 months, and spring football, 2019.

Another year; another quarterbacks coach.

For the third consecutive year, the CU quarterback corps will enter spring practices with a new voice in the quarterbacks room.

For the 2019 season, Jay Johnson is the quarterbacks coach. Like Brian Lindgren, Johnson will also serve as the offensive coordinator.

“I will never stray far from that,” Johnson said, when asked about assuming the role of quarterbacks coach while also serving as the overall offensive coordinator. “There’s something about the whole process of the quarterback room that I really enjoy because it starts with teaching. To see a young man come into that setting and learn, then take it to the practice field and execute it, then all of a sudden in front of the whole world on a Saturday afternoon execute it again — that’s very rewarding. It’s that process that we go through in that room that I really love to be a part of. I always enjoy seeing those young men go through the process of continuing to grow.”

Will it help or will it hurt that the Buff quarterbacks are learning from their third different position coach in three years?

Familiarity may breed contempt … but it also keeps players from having to reinvent the wheel each season.

Buff fans can only hope that the third time is the charm.

Steven Montez – one last chance at glory

Steven Montez, the presumptive starter for the 2019 season, will leave Boulder holding most of the CU career passing records.

Montez is fourth all-time at CU in passing yards (6,841), fourth in pass attempts (907) and completions (565), and is third in touchdown passes (46) and total offense (7,648).

For his part, Montez says he is anxious to start working with his new quarterbacks coach. The two met briefly when Johnson was announced in December, and once the current recruiting season is finished, the quarterbacks and their new position coach can begin meeting regularly.

“There’s always something you can learn and I think we’re all looking forward to it,” Montez said. “Every coach has something to bring the table and make you better. You always just try to be the best you can and put what they teach us out on the field. I think we all want to learn as much as we possibly can and I think we’re all excited to get going.”

And the future belongs to …

There was a time, in the not too distant past, when Colorado fans were very excited about the future of the CU quarterback roster.

Early last October, the Buffs were 5-0, and there was talk that Steven Montez was playing so well that he might test the waters for the NFL draft in 2019. There was potential behind Montez on the roster, with Noyer, Lytle and Stenstrom, and a four-star recruit in the fold by the name of Ty Evans.

Fast forward a few months.

Montez was far from NFL caliber during CU’s seven-game losing streak, his backups looked confused and unprepared when they entered games, and Ty Evans dumped Colorado for North Carolina State when Mike MacIntyre was fired.

So, to whom do the Buffs turn at quarterback for the 2020 season … or earlier if Montez gets hurt?

Sam Noyer is next in line on the roster, but Noyer did not look good in his appearances in 2018. He threw two ugly interceptions, including a pick-six against New Hampshire. Lytle, for his part, completed all five of his passes last season. Against Utah, Lytle completed four passes to Buffs … and one to a Ute.

Perhaps Jay Johnson will bring out the best in the CU quarterback roster. Perhaps Blake Stenstrom, a red-shirt freshman this fall, will be the long term answer. Perhaps the new coaching staff will find a stellar 2020 recruit (or graduate transfer) to carry the load after Steven Montez graduates.

These are conversations, though, which (hopefully) will need to be had next spring.

Spring practices, 2019, will be about Steven Montez, and his adjustments to his third quarterbacks coach in three years.

“I don’t think anyone in our locker room is thinking about taking a year or two to rebuild,” Montez said. “I think Rick George and (associate A.D.) Lance Carl brought Coach Tuck in to win right away. They brought him in to change the culture and get us on top right now. I think that’s what he’s going to expect and I think that’s what we all expect.”

Yes … we do.


One Reply to “Spring Practices … First Look: Quarterbacks”

  1. Gotta talk about the O line first. It is a lot easier to look good as a QB when you have Tom Brady’s protection. Here is hoping that breaks down under the Ram’s bad boy pressure, but I digress.
    The Oline may not look much different than last year. Mel has only recruited one guy who doesnt seem o have to bulk up.
    Here is hoping Jake lives up to his potential. Here is hoping youngster’s like Sherman take a big leap forward. Here is hoping the new O line coach really knows what he is doing…..O coordinator as well. and hope the offense is a breath of fresh air away from the fetid MM offense of the last few years.
    And before I get away from QBs it appears Mel’s first offer at that position is a 2020 kid who is a PRO STYLE QB. So much for that dual threat thing.

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