PULLMAN, Wash. — Eight games into the season, the Colorado football team has proven that it has a long list of problems to fix.
In striving to salvage this season, head coach Mike MacIntyre has decided to put quarterback on the top of that list.
During Saturday's 28-0 loss to Washington State at Martin Stadium, MacIntyre benched starter Steven Montez and turned the keys of the offense over to redshirt freshman Sam Noyer.
"It was not very good at all," MacIntyre said of Montez's performance.
No, it wasn't, but neither was Noyer's. Combined, they went 11-for-31 for 74 yards.
With four games to play, the Buffs (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) now have to figure out which quarterback gives them the best chance to win.
And, don't forget walk-on Casey Marksberry, who made his collegiate debut on Saturday and went 2-for-3 for 20 yards. MacIntyre was frustrated enough after the loss to throw him into the mix, as well.
"Definitely Casey could be an option if we don't throw it to the right guy and read the right coverages," MacIntyre said. "We've had people wide open and doing things, and we have to do it.
"We have to coach them better. We'll definitely take responsibility for it, but players make plays and players win games when you get out on the field. We just have to do a better job of coaching them, and hopefully they'll do a better job of playing."
The only quarterback not in the running to start is true freshman Tyler Lytle. MacIntyre said he won't waste Lytle's redshirt year at this point.
Prior to Saturday, Montez had done a solid job most of this season.
Going into the matchup with the Cougars, he was sixth in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. He's got twice as many touchdown passes (12) as interceptions (six). He still hasn't thrown in interception since a pick-six against Washington in the Pac-12 opener on Sept. 23.
Montez played well in a 27-23 loss to UCLA on Sept. 30, and had it not been for his receivers dropping two touchdown passes, the Buffs might have won that game. The next week, the Buffs lost to Arizona, 45-42, but it was hardly Montez's fault, as he threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns.
On Oct. 14, Montez had a bad first three quarters, but was exceptional in the fourth and led the Buffs to two late touchdowns in a 36-33 win at Oregon State.
Saturday was, by far, the worst of Montez's 11 career starts, as he misfired on his first seven passes and finished 4-for-13 for 21 yards.
"Pretty frustrated," Montez said after the game. "We had a hard time. Early, the elements (rain and wind) kind of affected us in the throwing game, and I think Washington State knew that, and they were loading the box, and you can't run into eight/nine-man box.
"I expected us to come out a lot hotter for sure on offense, but sometimes it just doesn't go that way."
Because it didn't, Montez got benched, but he insists his confidence hasn't been shaken.
"No, of course not," he said.
Noyer, meanwhile, got his first significant playing time. He had played in mop-up duty against Texas State and Washington earlier in the season, but was thrown into the fire on Saturday with the game still winnable, down 14-0 at the half.
"I don't think it was really any different," said Noyer, who went 7-for-18 for 53 yards. "I prepare sort of every day like I am the starter. When my name was called, just to go in there and ... try to get something going. Obviously that didn't happen.
"Overall, it was a pretty tough night, but there was some good things and some bad things, so we're just going to learn from it."
It was mostly bad for the Buffs, who had plenty of chances. Of the 74 offensive plays they ran, 34 of them came in Washington State territory. The Buffs gained a total of 46 yards on those 34 plays.
As a competitor, Noyer wants to get the start when the Buffs host California (4-4, 1-4) on Saturday, but said his priority is doing what's best for the team.
"Ultimately we want to win and that's the main goal," Noyer said. "We're going to do everything in our power to do that and nothing is really going to change, competition wise. We compete every day and we just try to make each other better, which ultimately helps the team."