Colorado completed its turnaround in 2016, but its senior signal caller is gone. Luckily, Steven Montez has in-game experience to stabilize the offense.
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Mike MacIntyre and Colorado were the cinderella team in college football last season winning 10 games for the first time since 2001. The Buffaloes were well-rounded on offense, and it started with all-time leading passer Sefo Liufau.
Liufau is gone, but the quarterback position will still be a strength this season. Sophomore Steven Montez saw more than enough action in 2016 because of Liufau’s injury-plagued year. Montez threw for 1,078 yards, nine touchdowns against five interceptions. In just his redshirt freshman season, he looked poised and strong in multiple games. His 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame makes him a prototypical passer for the Buffs.
In his three games where he saw extensive action he recorded a 2-1 record. He threw for 823 yards, seven touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 61 percent of his passes. Nevertheless, he still needs to improve greatly.
His arm strength got him into trouble just as much as it was an asset. In games against Michigan, Washington and Oklahoma State, he completed just 9-of-28 for 121 yards and an interception. He struggled against some of the better defenses. For instance, he was baited into an interception on a flea flicker at the Alamo Bowl.
The positive in all this is that he experienced those struggles during his freshman year. He’ll be able to rise above that this season. He’ll have all five wide outs and starting running back Phillip Lindsay back to make the offense explosive.
Leading receivers Devin Ross and Shay Fields return after combining for 125 receptions for 1,670 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bryce Bobo, Jay MacIntyre and Kabion Ento are also back. The trio caught 84 passes for 1,134 yards and five touchdowns rounding out all five players with high production.
Lindsay comes back after rushing for more than 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns. He balances out the Buffs’ strong passing attack. Not to mention, Montez can scramble as well adding a zone read element to this offense.
An even more experienced offense mixed with Montez’s talent will bode for a better offense in 2017. Liufau holds a lot of career records for Colorado, but he didn’t get to work with talent like this early in his career. With a young signal caller in Montez, Colorado will have more than just one nice season.