Montez was unable to complete a pass last Saturday after he came in to replace Liufau, who suffered a sprained ankle early in the second half. Although Montez got an opportunity to see action in mop-up duty against Colorado State and Idaho State, his playing experience against the Wolverines was eye-opening.
“I learned the importance of studying before the game and just getting ready for the game, preparing and knowing what our game plan is," Montez said when asked what he learned last Saturday. "You have to be extremely serious about how you prepare. That is really what shocked me, and of course, the speed of the game is different."
MacIntyre confirmed the obvious: They won't know Liufau's status for the Oregon game until later in the week. He was not able to practice on Monday morning.
“If he is moving good enough to play, we'll play him. If he is not moving good enough to play, then he won't play,” MacIntyre said. “We'll know as the week goes along on that.”
Added co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren: “The plan is hopefully [Liufau] is healthy enough to go on Saturday and he can get out there and get back into the groove because I feel like he has been playing pretty well and doing some good things. We had some rhythm there in the first half with him.”
Liufau ranks No. 7 nationally in passing efficiency through three weeks, 13 spots ahead of Davis Webb, who spurned the Buffaloes and transferred to Cal instead.
While Liufau has a wealth of experience playing at the Pac-12 level and Montez is a fish swimming upstream at this point, both have similar physical tools, Lindgren said, so the offense will not change drastically based on who is behind center in Autzen Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“I thought he had a great spring and he has done some good things,” Lindgren said of Montez. “He struggled a little bit Saturday [at Michigan] but we'll get him ready to go. I think it kind of woke him up a little bit going into that situation, experiencing what the speed of the game is like on the road in a setting like that. It is hard.
“It was a good learning experience for him. I can tell you already today, just the sense of urgency on his end of, 'Hey, I could be the guy this week if Sefo is not able to go. I have to be able to step in.' I can see his sense of urgency as far as his preparation goes, already starting on Monday, so that was good to see.”
Additional Monday notes -
*** Having Liufau banged up, as well as outside linebacker Derek McCartney and kicker Diego Gonzalez out at practice on crutches, did not take away from the spirit of Monday's practice, according to MacIntyre.
“I didn't see anybody moping around. They were practicing hard and were fresh. And plus, it is a beautiful day in Boulder, that kind of helps it also,” he said. “They'll be excited. It is our first Pac-12 game, going to play at Oregon and they are of course a great team.”
*** Junior wide receiver Devin Ross has turned the hype from his solid off-season into production early on this season. He ranks No. 4 in the Pac-12 in pass receptions per game and seventh in the conference in receiving yards per contest. What changed for him?
“He is catching the ball consistently. That's it,” MacIntyre said. “He has always had everything else. Everybody is going to drop one every once in a while, that is just the way it is. It is being able to get over that and be able to make the next one and not go in the tank. He's been able to do that. It has been impressive how he has been able to overcome it when he drops one and go catch the next one.”
*** Special teams woes, namely the punt team, have justifiably been to blame for the Buffaloes' loss in Ann Arbor last Saturday. MacIntyre admitted they will see punt block pressure from their upcoming opponents because “everybody copies everything.”
“We'll see similar pressures for sure,” he added. “We definitely need to correct that. The first [block] was just a miscue and then after that we didn't kick it right. And then they kind of got on a roll a little bit. They did a good job of blocking us. That is the first time we've gone up against athletes like that covering. And then of course [Jabrill Peppers] is an excellent returner. That helps on their part, too.
“We work on it every Monday and we have worked on it and made a couple changes and made sure we're more precise with everything. We didn't have any issues the first two games whatsoever but we will correct it and do good on it the rest of the year.”