It didn’t matter that it was practice. Steven Montez saw the goal line and went for it.
During Friday’s practice, the Colorado quarterback ran the ball on a goal-line situation and dived for the end zone, taking a hard hit from one of the Buffaloes’ defenders in the process.
Montez, a redshirt freshman, got up and started jawing at the CU defense, and a little lighthearted pushing and shoving ensued.
“We’re going to get after defenses this year, and we need toughness,” Montez said of that play, which resulted in a touchdown. “That comes from everybody. We just need nasty, including the quarterback. We need nasty people everywhere.”
This spring, the Buffs are working on their nasty, and a whole lot of other things as they try to get on the winning track for the first time in a decade.
Friday was the Buffs’ fifth of 15 practices this spring, and the first one open to the public and media. Although just a handful of practices in, the Buffs are pleased with the progress they are making with their revamped offense, which is being led by Montez and senior quarterback Jordan Gehrke.
“It’s been good. It’s definitely been a process,” co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said. “(Co-coordinator Darrin Chiaverini) and I have spent the last month or so after recruiting just meeting together and trying to put things together and get on the same page. I’ve been real pleased with the way that dynamic has gone and I’ve learned a lot from him and some of the stuff they’ve done at Texas Tech.”
So far, Lindgren said the prep work he and Chiaverini have done has produced some progress on the field, even if it’s not always fast progress.
“For the guys, it’s been definitely a bit of a learning process,” Lindgren said. “The first day that we install stuff, it looks a little rough and we kind of use the next day as a review. In those review days, I think the guys are starting to buy into some of the new things we’re doing and they’re seeing some of the results. But by no means are we there yet.”
With senior quarterbacks Sefo Liufau (foot injury) and Davis Webb (arriving in summer after transfer from Texas Tech) not here, Montez and Gehrke are getting plenty of time on the field with the offense.
“I think they’re doing well,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We’re going fast, so you’re running receivers in and out, we’re flipping the line every play to work the line to get guys in there. (The quarterbacks) have great plays and they have some tough plays; that’s why you scrimmage.”
Lindgren said the added reps have been especially beneficial to Montez, who is working with the first-team offense for the first time since coming to CU.
“I’ve been pleased with the way that he’s progressed through the first five practices,” Lindgren said. “I think guys always make a big jump after that redshirt year, that spring. I’ve been pretty pleased with his development, but he’s still got a lot of learning left to do.”
Montez said he still needs to improve on his reads and making throws he’s not making consistently. But he added that Liufau has been a great asset to him.
“He’s been a huge mentor to me, actually,” Montez said. “He’s been there and been through these growing pains and worked through them. He helps me out a ton.”
Montez has apparently picked up on Liufau’s toughness, as that goal-line play displayed.
“We went live today and that’s when it really gets fun,” he said. “I was really hyped that we had some live hitting today with the quarterbacks.”
Montez wasn’t the only player excited. There was good energy across the board as the Buffs got after it on offense and defense.
“I’m seeing great effort, really good intensity,” MacIntyre said. “I’m seeing a lot of guys make different plays.
“Since this is our first scrimmage, kind of like your first game, you kind of see a big jump in the next scrimmage. So I expect to see a bigger jump next Wednesday.”
The Buffs are sure to get better as the spring goes along, but to this point, they feel they’re on the right track.
“We’ve been going back and forth with the defense, day to day,” Montez said. “They’ll win the day and then we’ll win the day.
“We’re starting to click as a unit, starting to get comfortable with the new offense.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.