Colorado may not have much experience at running back, but quarterback Steven Montez is excited about the ground game being installed in the offense.
“The run game at the line of scrimmage is different from anything we’ve had before,” Montez said Friday after the Buffaloes’ first scrimmage of spring. “It gives us the opportunity to get us out of bad plays instead of just running them for the sake of running them. I think that’s good for us and I think that’s going to help us a lot, just getting us in good plays consistently.”
Montez said he and the other quarterbacks are still learning the nuances of the offense being installed by coordinator Jay Johnson, but that they are getting better at “running the show” and connecting with receivers.
“It’s really just running the show and understanding of the offense, and we’re still not there yet, but we’re getting close,” he said.
For now, though, Montez is pleased with the progress he and the Buffs are making, and he’s excited about the run game, despite the lack of experience.
Sophomore Alex Fontenot is the only scholarship running back with experience carrying the ball in a game, with 11 attempts for 43 yards and a touchdown last year. Walk-on Chase Sanders (four carries, 8 yards) is the only other back with experience running the ball in a game.
Montez said Fontenot and redshirt freshmen Jarek Broussard and Deion Smith have stood out this spring.
“I think Deion is looking really good at running back,” Montez said. “He’s really shifty and has that nice little spin move he likes to do.”
Senior outside linebacker Nu’umotu Falo said he and his teammates are enjoying their new position coach, 29-year-old Brian Michalowski.
“He’s a great guy,” Falo said. “I learned to love the guy from the first meeting I had with him. He’s all about his business; he’s all about doing the right things and getting the right things done. He really harps on us about what we say our goals are.”
Michalowski is in his first full-time coaching job at the Division I level and has taken an approach that’s made an impression on Falo.
“He always tells us that he works for us; we don’t work for him,” Falo said. “It’s really an honor to hear that from your coach, to know your coach cares about you that much.”
Aiming for double duty
For much of the past two seasons, the Buffs have had the same duo handling kicking duties: James Stefanou on place kicks and Davis Price on kickoffs. Stefanou, however, would like to handle both if he can.
“That’s a thing with new coaches, everything is up for grabs,” he said. “I want to prove I can kick off, which I’m confident I can do. If I get the opportunity to do it during the season I’ll jump at it.”
Stefanou is 22-for-30 on field goals during his CU career (and 65-for-65 on extra points), while Price has handled 124 of the Buffs’ 125 kickoffs in the past two years.
CU’s top three returning players, in terms of career rushing yards are a quarterback, a tight end and a receiver. Montez has 807 yards and eight touchdowns on 277 carries in his career. Beau Bisharat, who moved to tight end this spring, has 249 yards on 57 carries. And, receiver Laviska Shenault has 119 yards and five touchdowns on 19 carries. … The Buffs return to the practice field on Monday for the 10th of their 15 spring practices.