For quite a few years — okay, let’s face it, for a decade or more — any optimism created among Colorado fans by anything that happened during winter conditioning or spring football practice was tempered by the reality that spring promise never developed into fall reality. "Hey, they looked bigger and faster out there this year." Sure, but get ready for another four win season. "Hey, that offense looked pretty good." Yeah, but that’s likely due to the defense being really, really bad. "Hey, that defensive line looked stout and we had really nice pressure on the quarterback." Yeah, but guess what? The offensive line turned out to be horrible.
It’s okay to admit that any optimism in recent springs was generally greeted with a heavy, and deserved, dose of skepticism. That’s what 10-plus long years of losing will do to a fan base.
But not this year, Buff fans. This year, for the first time in a long time, CU fans can walk away from spring ball and truly feel good about any optimism they gained over four weeks of practice. 10 wins and a south division title will do that for you, as will another large returning class and plenty of playing experience at almost every position.
So what did we learn from four weeks of spring ball? How are things looking as we wrap up the school year and head for summer? Let’s take a closer look, and today, let’s start with the offense.
More often than not when a team loses a four year starter and a guy who holds the vast majority of the school records at the quarterback position there is somewhat of a scramble to see who his successor may be. There were some who thought that might be the case for CU, but that’s not what we learned from this spring session. The Buffs went into this spring with one player at the position who was able to gain significant playing time, and even a few starts, due to injuries to the ultimate warrior, Sefo Liufau. That player, of course, was Steven Montez.
While Montez struggled on the field at times as a redshirt freshman, there were also times when he absolutely shined in a way not seen at Colorado since the days of Kordell Stewart and Koy Detmer. Anyone remember Oregon?
None of the difficulties we saw with Montez were evident during spring ball. And in fact, what people inside the program are saying is that he took his game to a new level, showed a much firmer grasp of the offense, and gave even more indications that he is going to be a very special player. What’s left for Montez now is to polish his technique and footwork and learn the art of reading and anticipating defenses. He’s already demonstrated the kind of work ethic and leadership that will help him do those things and make him a good leader on this team.
What was also evident during this recent spring practices was that CU football is well stocked for both the present and the future at the position. In fact, it’s even fair to say the Buffs may have more and better depth right now than at any time in the last 15 or so years.
Redshirt freshman Sam Noyer and early enrollee Tyler Lytle both showed that they have the size, athleticism and talent to be very good Pac-12 level quarterbacks. Both showed very nice accuracy and the ability to make a wide variety of throws under a wide variety of conditions. Both are big and relatively mobile and can make things happen on the field. All they need now is the experience and they will gain that with each practice.
So what have we learned this spring at quarterback?
- Sefo Liufau’s legacy is in good hands. Steven Montez should do just fine stepping into Luifua’s shoes both as a player and as a leader. In fact, it’s fairly evident already that Montez is far more gifted in almost all athletic facets of being a quarterback than Liufau.
- The future at quarterback at Colorado is very bright. Buy some cheap sunglasses, folks, because the three scholarship quarterbacks the Buffs have right now all appear to be the real deal.
- Spring MVP at quarterback: Stephen Montez - demonstrated that he is the leader of this offense and generated significant excitement with his play even among some very astute observers this spring.