Highly touted of­fense re­mains on right track

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Brian How­ell Cliff Grass­mick, Daily Cam­era

Through­out the off­sea­son, Colorado foot­ball coach Mike MacIn­tyre has ex­pressed nu­mer­ous times his be­lief that the Buf­faloes’ of­fense can be one of the most ex­plo­sive in the coun­try.

If that adds any pres­sure to the coaches, co-of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Brian Lind­gren isn’t show­ing it.

Asked about pres­sure, Lind­gren chuck­led a bit and said: “I think our of­fen­sive staff, we’re re­ally ex­cited about the group we’ve got. We have the op­por­tu­nity to do some re­ally good things.”

Lind­gren quickly added that the Buffs are by no means a well-oiled ma­chine at this point.

“I don’t think we’re there yet,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we have to take ad­van­tage of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. That’s what we talked to our group about. We talk about go­ing out each and ev­ery day and try­ing to get bet­ter. Keep pro­gress­ing.”

There is plenty of rea­son for op­ti­mism go­ing into this sea­son.

Nine starters are back from a group that av­er­aged 32.8 points per game a year ago — the fifth-best scor­ing av­er­age in pro­gram his­tory.

The re­ceiv­ing corps, led by se­niors Bryce Bobo, Shay Fields and Devin Ross, is one of the best and most ex­pe­ri­enced in the coun­try.

The start­ing five on the of­fen­sive line are ar­guably the best CU has had in a decade.

Run­ning back Phillip Lind­say re­turns af­ter com­pil­ing 1,745 yards and 17 touch­downs in to­tal rush­ing and re­ceiv­ing. One of the most ver­sa­tile backs in the coun­try last year, he rushed for 1,252 yards and caught 53 passes.

On top of all that, the Buffs have sopho­more quar­ter­back Steven Mon­tez, who isn’t a re­turn­ing starter but showed great prom­ise in go­ing 2-1 last year in re­lief of Sefo Li­u­fau.

“I think we’ve got a good han­dle on what we’re try­ing to ac­com­plish,” Lind­gren said. “It’s nice hav­ing a lot of vet­eran guys that have been around and played a lot of foot­ball. They just have a good feel for the dif­fer­ent con­cepts that we’re do­ing. It’s been fun to see the progress.”

Se­nior safety Ryan Moeller has been prac­tic­ing against CU’s of­fense for five years and said he has no­ticed a dif­fer­ence this year with the ex­peri- ence and con­fi­dence on that side of the ball. The of­fense rou­tinely gives the de­fense looks they aren’t used to see­ing, es­pe­cially early in pre­sea­son camp.

“They’re do­ing stuff where you go, ‘Oh, think quick; what do I have to do?’ ” Moeller said. “They keep you on your toes.”

Mon­tez, in his third fall camp at CU, said, “We’re a lot fur­ther along right now than we were at this time last fall camp.”

While this year’s of­fense will fea­ture many of the same play­ers, it’s sure to look dif­fer­ent. That is, in large part, be­cause Mon­tez has a dif­fer­ent set of skills from what Li­u­fau did.

A four-year starter, Li­u­fau left CU with nearly 100 records, in­clud­ing just about ev­ery ma­jor pass­ing mark. Last year, how­ever, the Buffs took ad­van­tage of his size and run­ning abil­ity. Li­u­fau rushed 152 times for 496 yards and seven touch­downs, and the Buffs re­lied much more on his legs in the sec­ond half of the sea­son.

Mon­tez has the abil­ity to run (he gained 231 yards on 51 car­ries), but his arm is likely to be a big­ger weapon.

“Steven is a re­ally good ath­lete, and we can do some of that run stuff that we did with Sefo,” Lind­gren said, “but I think he just brings a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent skill set as far as some of the pass­ing is con­cerned. So, I think we’re go­ing to be able to do some things in the pass game that we hadn’t done for the past cou­ple of years with Sefo, which brings a new dy­namic.”

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