Everyone saw how well that brief quarterback controversy worked out for the Colorado Buffaloes.

After being publicly challenged by head coach Mike MacIntyre following a listless shutout loss at Washington State, Steven Montez responded with one of his finest performances in a CU uniform.

And then there is the other guy, Sam Noyer.

A week ago the redshirt freshman was battling Montez for the starting job. Yet after Montez's lights-out performance against Cal — 20-for-26, 347 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a rushing touchdown — Noyer once again has retreated to the background. Yet that brief up-and-down ride hasn't changed anything for Noyer, who attempted to prepare for a potential starting role the same way he has prepared every week this season — including this week as the clear backup to Montez heading into Saturday's showdown at Arizona State.

"Honestly it was sort of the same thing I always do," Noyer said. "I like to prepare each week like I'm going to be the starter. Nothing really changed. Maybe a extra hour watching film or something, but I prepare every week like I am the starter. Nothing dramatically changed, really.

"Every day is a competition between us no matter who is starting. Each day is a different competition. We're going to push each other to get better. Last week we took that to a whole other level. I think it helped Steven on the field and it helped the team ultimately."

The chain of events that culminated in Montez's big day against Cal began at halftime of the previous week's 28-0 loss at Washington State, when MacIntyre benched Montez in favor of Noyer.


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Noyer previously had made late-game appearances against Texas State and Washington, completing 5-of-8 passes overall for 60 yards, but the summons off the bench at WSU marked his first playing time during a game in which the outcome remained up in the air. The native of Beaverton, Ore., probably didn't sway MacIntyre's eventual decision much with his final numbers, going 7-for-18 for 53 yards, but getting his first true taste of competitive action on a night that was forgettable for the entire team overall could serve Noyer well if called upon again over the final three games.

"He's done as good a job as I can remember for a backup guy of really having a sense of urgency in how he prepares," CU co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said. "I think last week...you could see his level turn up a little bit. At this level getting in there, especially on the road (at WSU) where have to manage a little crowd noise and a different environment, it can be a great experience for a young quarterback. The Washington State game was a good experience for him. It was a tough situation to go into. Going against a really good defense, we were struggling, tough weather, but for the most part I thought he did a nice job."

Lindgren echoed Noyer's belief that he prepares every week as if he is getting ready to start, and given the life of a backup means a player always is just one play away from getting thrown into the fray, there is confidence Noyer's experience in last week's competition will benefit him when his time eventually arrives. Even if that competition didn't alter the status quo.

"I really feel like he's done a nice job all season," Lindgren said. "He takes notes in the meetings. He's asking questions. He's always listening and taking mental reps when he's not in there. I've been really impressed with how he's handled the whole situation in the last week."

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07