High-powered offense

Last year, Colorado had the fifth-best scoring average in program history. The Buffs believe they can be better this year. Here are the top five scoring averages in CU history:

1989: 41.1

1995: 36.9

1994: 36.2

2001: 33.0

2016: 32.8

Throughout the offseason, Colorado head 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.


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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 is arguably the best CU has had in a decade.

Running back Phillip Lindsay returns after compiling 1,579 yards and 17 touchdowns in total offense. One of the most versatile backs in the country last year, he rushed for 1,189 yards and caught 47 passes.

Colorado co-offensive coordinator Darin Chiaverini has nine starters back on offense this season.
Colorado co-offensive coordinator Darin Chiaverini has nine starters back on offense this season. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

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's noticed a difference this year with the experience 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.

"Guns are blazing and they're ready to hit the road running - and so are we (on defense)."

Montez, in his third fall camp at CU, said Wednesday, "We're a lot farther 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 than Liufau.

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."

Recognizing Montez's strengths, MacIntyre said, "There's some things that we like that he does that we've added to our offense in the passing game that he can do a lot better."

Ten practices into camp, Montez said the offense has experienced the usual ups and downs. With the Sept. 1 season opener against Colorado State quickly approaching, however, his goal is to find more consistency.

"Once we get to probably the week before or two weeks before CSU, I would like us to be just absolutely, every practice look the same - high powered, up tempo, completing all the balls, not fumbling, not throwing picks," he said.

If the Buffs can gain that consistency and live up to the preseason hype, they've got a chance to be exactly what MacIntyre believes they can be on offense.

"It should be a really exciting year this year for us," Montez said. "At the end of the day, words are words and we're going to see what happens Sept. 1 at Mile High and we're going to see what our offense is made of and what our defense is made of."

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