Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Having three position coaches, three play callers and two head coaches is not the type of turnover any quarterback likes to see during his college career.
As Steven Montez prepares for his senior season at Colorado — and third season as the starter — however, he’s taking the latest changes in stride and hoping the Buffaloes have the right combination to put together a winning football team.
Montez and the Buffs (5-7, 2-7 Pac-12 in 2018) are in the midst of their first offseason with head coach Mel Tucker, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson and other staff members hired in December.
“This has already been my third position coach in four years, so the changes are really … it’s not like it’s all that new to me,” Montez said. “A new head coach is a little bit different, but I think coach Tuck is a great guy and I think he’s going to have us going in the right direction.”
There have already been positive reviews from the offseason workout program installed by Tucker, but Montez is looking forward to developing his relationship with Johnson.
“I’ve talked to him a few times, but haven’t really talked about the offense too much yet,” Montez said. “He seems like a great guy, seems like a great coach. I think they’re bringing a certain type of vibe. The vibe is that we’re excited to win immediately.”
Montez and the rest of the CU quarterbacks grew close to former quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper. Although only at CU for a season, Roper left a lasting impression on the quarterbacks, who hoped he would be retained by Tucker.
“I was obviously very sad to see coach Rope go because, not only me, but the entire quarterback room created a bond with him,” Montez said. “It was just something different that we haven’t had here before. He was a phenomenal coach.”
While disappointed to see Roper — who is now at North Carolina State — go, Montez said he’s open minded about Johnson, a veteran coordinator and play-caller.
“I think coach Johnson is going to be a great coach for us, as well,” Montez said. “Coach Johnson will fit right in with us, with the bond. I’m really excited to get to spend more time with coach Johnson and see what he has in mind for the offense.”
To this point, the Buffs have not received a playbook, but Montez said he knows there will be some changes coming.
“Just having those conversations with coach Johnson before we left for break, he thinks we’re going to have a little bit more pistol, we’re probably going to be under center a little bit more than we have in the past and we’re probably going to use a lot more tight ends in our offensive sets,” Montez said.
Whatever changes are in store, Montez is focusing more on his personal development at this point.
During the 2018 season, Montez had a solid season, throwing for 2,849 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while rushing for 238 yards and four touchdowns. He has started 24 consecutive games and is on pace to become CU’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown passes.
There’s still work to be done, however. Montez said his footwork and recognition of defenses has to improve.
“Toward the end of the season when we started seeing more and more of the stuff we had trouble with in previous weeks, that’s the kind of things we struggled with, not seeing those things and not recognizing them when I saw it in a brand new game,” he said.
It’s all part of Montez’s final offseason with the Buffs, and while there are changes to deal with, he’s ready to embrace them and get himself ready for a strong senior year.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I can’t wait to get into spring ball, can’t wait to get this playbook and start diving into it and just seeing what we’re going to do on offense.”
Senior guard Brett Tonz, who started six games last season, will not participate in spring practices. Tonz recently had surgery for a torn labrum in his shoulder and will be out for several weeks. … CU will begin spring practices in March.