Passer from El Paso proven
Loaded with experience, Montez eager to be CU’s No. 1 QB in 2017
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.