At some point next season, the Colorado football team is likely to send Sam Noyer to the field to run the offense.
Getting him ready for that moment has been a point of emphasis for the Buffaloes this spring.
"We have to get him there," co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren said. "We're really excited about him. It's just trying to get him as many reps as we can so he can continue to get comfortable and not think so much."
The defending Pac-12 South champion Buffs (10-4, 8-1 Pac-12 last season) will go into the next season with a very young group of quarterbacks. After losing two seniors - four-year starter Sefo Liufau and three-year backup Jordan Gehrke - the Buffs have just one quarterback with game experience.
Sophomore Steven Montez is viewed as a rising star after going 2-1 as a starter last season when Liufau went down with an ankle injury. Montez has yet to officially be named the starter, but he's certainly the overwhelming favorite to take the reins of the offense and has done little to lose the confidence of his coaches and teammates.
"(During a scrimmage on Friday), he wasn't quite as sharp as we would have hoped or we'd seen, but the whole body of the work for the spring, we've been really impressed," Lindgren said of Montez.
Even if Montez does take control of the top spot, the Buffs are likely going to use their backup - whether it's Noyer or true freshman Tyler Lytle - at some point. The last quarterback to start the entire season for the Buffs was Cody Hawkins, in 2007.
So, as the Buffs prepare for the 2017 season, they face the task of not only making sure Montez is ready to go, but that a backup is ready, as well.
Noyer, a redshirt freshman, is doing his best to make sure he's prepared.
"I'm going to prepare like I'm the starter every week," said the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Noyer, who is from Beaverton, Ore. "That's my mindset right now, to prepare like I'm going to get the snap whenever we play Colorado State (in the opener on Sept. 1). I'm just trying to get better and be ready for that in case I do."
While the Buffs lack experience, Lindgren has been impressed with the talent displayed by all three scholarship quarterbacks.
Last season, Liufau felt Noyer had the best mechanics of the group. This spring, coaches have been impressed with Noyer's accuracy and arm strength and Lindgren said Noyer is "really dynamic as an athlete."
Physically, Noyer said, "I feel confident in what I'm doing right now."
To get ready for the season, however, Noyer has to improve in the mental aspects of the game.
"For him, it's just situational awareness and we hit that in the scrimmage on Friday and then again today," Lindgren said Monday.
Lindgren mentioned down and distance situations and two-minute drives as points of emphasis, along with learning when not to take a sack and how to get rid of the ball under pressure.
"Some of those situations have been really good learning experiences for him," Lindgren said. "I like where Sam is at. The spring has been real beneficial to him. He's gotten a ton of repetitions. I think he's improved every day."
After spending last season on the scout team, this spring has been crucial for Noyer's development, and after 12 spring practices, he said he feels more comfortable than he did a month ago.
"As the spring has gone on, things are starting to slow down," Noyer said. "Things are definitely going a lot smoother."
Noyer admits that mental mistakes are "sort of killing me right now," but also realizes that those mistakes can be eliminated with more practice time.
The good thing for Noyer and the Buffs is that he has some time, as the start of the season is more than five months away. Those five months have to be very productive for Noyer, however.
"I think the summer when (the players) are doing some stuff on their own will be big and all the way through fall camp, he's going to need as much of that (situational work) as he can," Lindgren said.
For now, Noyer is pleased with his progress as the Buffs approach the end of spring drills.
"So far I think I've done what I needed to do, and I just have to keep getting better from here," he said.