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bsn BSN: Montez hoping to make a run at CU Buffs starting job

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    Steven Montez has everything you want in a quarterback from a physical standpoint. The now 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has put on about 40 pounds since he arrived at CU last summer, he’s light on his feet and has a cannon for an arm.

    After a redshirt year used to fine tune his body and adjust to the transition from El Paso high school football to the Pac-12, Montez is ready to make his push for the starting job. Right now, though, he has no measuring stick. The two quarterbacks Montez hopes to be the challenger to, Sefo Liufau and incoming grad-transfer Davis Webb aren’t around this spring. Liufau is still recovering from a foot injury suffered last fall and Webb has yet to finalize his graduation from Texas Tech.

    “He’s a competitive guy and I think it is a little bit difficult for him with Sefo and Davis not being here to compete with him,” co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren explained. “But I think, at the same time, we’ve kind of talked it through and said, ‘Hey, you’ve got this spring to really just dive into it and get a lot of experience.'”

    Montez, though, says he isn’t looking for a measuring stick.

    “I push myself to the same level every day and that’s just to get myself better,” he told. “I’m not really competing against any one person or any two people, whoever that may be. I’m just competing to make myself better and to be the best that I can be every day.”

    With the lack of competition also comes upside for Montez, no Webb or Liufau means the young Texan gets a large majority of the first-team reps with Jordan Gehrke being the only other scholarship QB on the spring roster. He says he’s “learned a lot” through the experience and Lindgren agrees.

    “The reps have been great for him, he’s growing and getting better every single day,” told the coach. “I’ve been pleased with his development, there were some mechanical things that we were working with him on in the offseason and he’s done a nice job of working through that kind of stuff. He’s had a lot of repetition, a lot of reps that he’s learned from through trial and error a little bit. We’ve put him in a lot of situations and the defense has been giving him a lot of different looks and I’ve been pretty pleased with the way he’s handled that.”

    And while Liufau, the three-year starter, hasn’t been there to help Montez from a competition standpoint, that doesn’t mean the known leader isn’t helping at all.

    “Sefo is like a mentor to me, he’s taught me a lot since I’ve been here,” explained the redshirt freshman to be. “He’s a good friend, a good teammate and a good leader so I kind of look up to him. He’s been a guy here who’s paid his dues already, he’s already been put through the fire and he knows what to do. I ask him when I have questions and he helps me out a lot.”

    As stated at the top, Montez’ stature is near-perfect for the position, but he’ll be the first to tell you he’s not yet a perfect QB.

    “I definitely have a lot of arm strength, I need to work on accuracy, though,” he admits. “You can’t just have a whole lot of strength and be throwing it into the sky. I’m working to get more touch, get more accuracy on the ball so I can put it where I want to put it and put it where our guys can catch it and the other guys can’t.”

    “He still has a little way to go to get to where he can be,” Lindgren added. “He has big-time arm talent but it’s a matter of getting his feet into position so he can finish with some balance and put himself in a good position to make an accurate throw but he’s getting there, he’s getting there.”

    There’s work to be done but the young quarterback believes he can make those strides in time to make a push towards being the one running out with the offense when the Buffs take the field against Colorado State in September.

    “I think I have a good chance to start if I play at the level I want to play at,” he told. “I’m not quite there yet but over these next couple weeks, we’re going to have a lot of time to get better and to get myself at that level. Then, once Fall Camp starts, I’ll hopefully be at that level, ready to start and ready to get some wins.”

    Lindgren agrees that it’s possible but also looks at a certain category that Montez can’t catch the other two QBs in no matter how good of a spring he has.

    “I think [he can give Webb and Liufau a run for their money],” he said. “I think the way that he’s been developing since last summer, I think that we would feel comfortable putting him in a game. I think, right now, when you look at Davis Webb or Sefo, those guys just have a ton of game experience and that’s something that is invaluable. I think when they get here and we see those guys, I think that game experience puts them a little bit ahead right now.”

    In-game experience cannot be gathered in the spring but the experience Montez has tallied with the first-team this spring is invaluable in itself.

    “For a lot of redshirt-freshman, they don’t get that opportunity,” Lindgren told. “They’re still working with the twos or the threes. For Steven to get a lot of reps in some competitive situations with the first group and to have some success I think has been great for his confidence. I think he’s in the process of making that jump, our staff is really excited about his future.”

    Colorado fans will have a chance to get a great look at Montez on Saturday when the Buffs take the field for their annual Spring Game (Noon MST, Pac-12 Networks.).

    Quotable


    On building chemistry with his receivers

    “Yeah, of course, even before spring started we were throwing on our own and doing those sorts of things, trying to get warm and get used to each other’s speed and all that stuff, I think we’ve made a lot of progress and I think we’re only going to continue to get better with more reps.”

    On if the receivers have had to make an adjustment to the velocity on his throws

    “I think they’ve handled it well, there hasn’t been a huge problem. I try to take a little bit off of it because you don’t have to kill them on everything.”

    On how he can improve his accuracy

    “My pops used to tell me when we throw, ‘Throw with a purpose.” They tell me that a lot here as well, throw like you’re trying to hit something, not just a huge target like a receiver, throw to specific parts on his body—inside shoulder, outside shoulder, chest, head—wherever you want to put the ball just to work on putting the ball in specific places.”

    Ryan Koenigsberg
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