Passer from El Paso proven

Loaded with ex­pe­ri­ence, Mon­tez ea­ger to be CU’s No. 1 QB in 2017

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - By Nick Kos­mider Nick Kos­mider: 303-954-1516, nkos­mider@den­ver­post.com or @nick­kos­mider

boul­der» It would be hard to dis­cover a backup quar­ter­back who graced big­ger stages than red­shirt fresh­man Steven Mon­tez did for Colorado this sea­son.

Michi­gan Sta­dium. Autzen Sta­dium. The Memo­rial Coli­seum. Levi’s Sta­dium at the Pac-12 cham­pi­onship game.

Mon­tez al­ready has added all of that to his ré­sumé, and as he looks ahead to his fu­ture at CU, there is no doubt he will lean on a trove of ben­e­fi­cial ex­pe­ri­ences he gath­ered this sea­son.

“I think the ex­pe­ri­ence this year was key,” Mon­tez said. “It helped me de­velop as a player a lot. Go­ing into next year, ob­vi­ously, the start­ing spot is not a guar­an­tee by any means. … We’re just go­ing to have to come in and com­pete, and it’s go­ing to be fun. Hope­fully the ex­pe­ri­ence will show that I’m ready to start.”

No. 11 CU (10-3) has started prepa­ra­tions for its Dec. 29 game in the Alamo Bowl against No. 13 Ok­la­homa State (9-3). Mon­tez pre­pares try­ing to get a leg up on the quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion for next sea­son.

Sam Noyer, a Beaver­ton, Ore., prod­uct who wore a red­shirt this sea­son, and Tyler Ly­tle, a CU com­mit out of Servite High School in Ana­heim, Calif., will be among the cast be­hind cen­ter ex­pected to push Mon­tez for the start­ing quar­ter­back job.

What Mon­tez’s com­peti­tors will find dif­fi­cult: match­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence the red­shirt fresh­man from El Paso gained while play­ing in some of col­lege foot­ball’s most his­toric venues.

“I think that will help him a lot,” said CU coach Mike MacIn­tyre. “What re­ally helped him was the ex­pe­ri­ence he got last spring.”

Dur­ing the Buffs’ spring camp be­fore this turn­around sea­son, Mon­tez was the un­ques­tioned QB1. Start­ing quar­ter­back Sefo Li­u­fau was still re­cov­er­ing from a bro­ken foot. Third-stringer Jor­dan Gehrke was in the fray but had to miss some prac­tices be­cause of aca­demic com­mit­ments.

“So (Mon­tez) got a ton of reps, and that helped him tremen­dously,” MacIn­tyre said.

Still, when Mon­tez was forced into re­lief of Li­u­fau dur­ing the sec­ond half of CU’s 45-28 loss at Michi­gan in the third week of the sea­son, the fresh­man couldn’t com­plete a pass in seven at­tempts as the Buffs watched their up­set bid fade away.

“Go­ing 0-for-7 is ab­so­lutely trash,” Mon­tez said. “If I watched my­self in that game, I’d prob­a­bly be like: ‘Who is this kid? Where did they get him from?’ That’s the mo­ti­va­tion I had with all the other op­por­tu­ni­ties I had. I just didn’t want to dis­ap­point when I had a chance to get in there.”

Af­ter the lack­lus­ter ef­fort at Michi­gan, Mon­tez sparkled when given an op­por­tu­nity. The Buffs wouldn’t be play­ing in the Alamo Bowl — the No. 2 des­ti­na­tion in the Pac-12 post­sea­son peck­ing or­der — if not for the job Mon­tez did in vic­to­ries at Ore­gon and at home against Ore­gon State.

MacIn­tyre also no­ticed a dif­fer­ent backup quar­ter­back two weeks ago. When Mon­tez was forced onto a big stage against Michi­gan early in the sea­son, he clearly wasn’t ready. In the Pac12 cham­pi­onship game, when he re­placed an in­jured Li­u­fau, Mon­tez led the Buffs on a ga­me­ty­ing drive in the first half.

“That showed great ma­tu­rity,” MacIn­tyre said. “We had talked about it: ‘You have to be ready.’ When it hap­pened, he was ready.”

Steven Mon­tez played enough this year as a red­shirt fresh­man to pass for 1,017 yards and rush for 231.

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