HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The receiving corps at Colorado is one of the most talented groups in the country.

There's more experience and talent on the offensive line than at any point in the last five years.

Senior Phillip Lindsay returns as one of the best running backs in the Pac-12 Conference.

Given all of that, it's no wonder CU head coach Mike MacIntyre believes the defending Pac-12 South champion Buffaloes (10-4, 8-1 conference last year) will have an elite offense.

"I think the offense will be in the top echelon of our league and one of the tops in the country," MacIntyre said during media days at the Hollywood & Highland. "If they're not, we won't have as good of a year."

MacIntyre then joked, "Sefo (Liufau) wishes he had the talent around him that Steven (Montez) and the guys will have this year."

No doubt, there is the potential to be special, but MacIntyre wouldn't talk about having an elite offense if he didn't have supreme confidence in his quarterback.

Montez, a redshirt sophomore, is set to take the reins of the offense from Liufau, a four-year starter and CU's all-time leading passer who is now trying to win a job with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Throughout the offseason, MacIntyre has praised Montez's work ethic and the improvement he's made as a quarterback.


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While Liufau was the unquestioned leader of the team last year, Montez played an integral role. He went 2-1 as a starter when Liufau went down with an ankle injury, and he threw for 1,017 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.

Montez may not have to be great this year, because of the talent around him, but MacIntyre said, "We have a quarterback that understands our offense and has been groomed to it correctly."

The Buffs also have a quarterback that is already earning respect in the locker room. Lindsay and outside linebacker Derek McCartney, who joined MacIntyre at Pac-12 media days, both expressed their confidence and trust in their young quarterback.

"Everybody understands that Montez is the man, and we all know we have to rally around him," Lindsay said.

Montez has never lacked confidence, but Lindsay said it's important for the Buffs to feed that confidence.

"You have to make sure he knows he's the baddest dude out there," Lindsay said. "He is that man."

McCartney has been impressed with the moxie — as well as the exceptional talent - displayed by Montez.

"He has a really strong arm and he's going to go for these for big-time throws because he trusts his arm strength," McCartney said. "It's cool because he feels confidence in himself and I love that. He's going to make big plays. He's just got to learn when is the right time to really push it and when is not the right time. That'll come. It'll come with some experience, and he's had a little bit, which is good."

In addition to his nine touchdown passes, Montez threw four interceptions last year, and he's shown that he'll take risks in attempting to make a big play.

"Sometimes taking risks you get rewards," Lindsay said.

"I don't think he sees it as a risk, though," McCartney responded. "He thinks, 'I know I can make this throw.' There's no question it's going to go his way. It's going to come with experience; he's going to learn. But a lot of it is he's just that confident in himself. He doesn't see it another way."

It's part of what makes Montez unique and a popular player in the locker room.

"Montez does his own thing," Lindsay said. "He knows how to get in people's skin, but everybody respects Montez."

On this team, that could go a long way.

There is plenty of talent around Montez, but he's the man that holds the keys to the offense, and the Buffs are excited to see what he can do.

"We're looking for him to have a really big year for us," McCartney said.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.