Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
There’s a lot of change going on with the Colorado football team this winter, but Steven Montez kept one thing consistent: his struggles in spring games.
“Good and bad,” the senior quarterback said of his performance Saturday at Folsom Field. “That’s how every spring game I’ve had has been. It’s been not too great, not God-awful, but not really good.”
Montez completed 23-of-44 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on Saturday.
A two-year starter who typically plays well on game days, Montez has had a weird history in spring games. This is the fourth time in his career he’s been the top quarterback for the spring game, but he’s thrown six career interceptions in these games, with at least one each year.
“It’s just God, he just doesn’t want me to have a good spring game, I guess,” Montez said. “I studied for it. For some reason, I just struggle. It might have something to do with the playbook being condensed, but I’m not going to sit up here and make excuses.
“I just have to go watch film and see what my decisions were. I know I didn’t make good decisions there toward the end, but we’ll clean them up next time.”
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson didn’t sound too concerned over the performance of his senior, who has been sharp most of the spring.
“He was fine,” Johnson said. “He maybe missed a few early ones, but that isn’t always him, and then just made a couple decisions at the end which weren’t great. Other than that, he was fine.”
In all, the Black team, led by Montez, threw four interceptions, including one by walk-on Josh Goldin and one by running back Joe Davis.
“In the other scrimmages, I don’t think we’ve had a turnover,” Johnson said. “Then today, the one started and then the next one went and that’s what happens. That’s what happens in the games sometimes, so it was a great learning deal that I hope we can learn from.”
CU’s other quarterbacks — junior Sam Noyer and sophomore Tyler Lytle — played well for the Gold squad. Noyer went 13-for-15 for 195 yards and two touchdowns, while Lytle went 7-for-10 for 119 yards and a touchdown.
“I think they’ve really progressed,” Johnson said of the Buffs’ quarterbacks. “I’ve asked them to do a lot of different things and I think they’ve come a long way. A lot of it is communication and understanding the wholeness of what we’re trying to do and get everybody on the same page. I think from when we first started to day 15, we’ve done that.”
The Gold squad held a 21-20 lead late in the third quarter before cornerback Mehki Blackmon stepped in front of a Goldin pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown.
Three plays later, Blackmon picked off Montez, and that set up a Noyer-to-Daniel Arias touchdown. The next play for the Black team resulted in another interception that Gold turned into a touchdown. Suddenly, Gold had a 41-20 lead.
Defensive coordinator Tyson Summers didn’t like seeing 82 points scored, but he loved that series of interceptions.
“We were fortunate enough on one side to able to get some takeaways,” Summers said. “That’s something we’ve tried to stress throughout the spring. It was nice to see Mehki come in back-to-back series and we wound up getting three or four in a row and it changes the face of the game.”
Several former Buffs, including current NFL players Phillip Lindsay, Ahkello Witherspoon, Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson and others, were on hand for the spring game.
“It was really fun to see all those guys,” head coach Mel Tucker said. “It was a really good turnout. I got a chance to shake a lot of hands and meet a lot of guys I hadn’t met. I want them all to know this is their home and they’re always welcome here. I’m just proud to be a part of the Buff nation now, I really am.”
Several players did not participate in the spring game because of injuries, including receiver Laviska Shenault; tight ends Beau Bisharat and Jared Poplawski; offensive linemen Colby Pursell and Jake Moretti; defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson; and defensive backs Aaron Maddox, Hasaan Hypolite and Chris Miller. … Receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini, who called the offense last year, got a chance to call plays for the Gold team, helping them to 536 yards and 55 points. Johnson will call plays during the season. … The 55 points by the Gold team is the second-most by one side in CU spring game history. In 2002, the offense defeated the defense, 59-49, using a different type of scoring system. … CU has handed out post-spring awards since 1983, but Tucker and his staff has decided to do away with those awards this year. This is just the fourth time since 1983 that CU hasn’t done post-spring awards (also 1998, 2006 and 2012). … Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders attended the game.