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CU football notes: Buffs focusing on better execution on offense

Raul Romero Jr/For BuffZone.com
Colorado quarterback Steven Montez and the offense struggled all night against UCLA.

In three years as a starter, Colorado quarterback Steven Montez has had three position coaches, three different play-callers and three different offenses to run.

The fifth-year senior has always said he embraces the challenge of learning from all the different coaches he’s been associated with, but admitted Tuesday that it hasn’t been the easiest path to take.

“Learning a new offense is tough, but I mean, nobody feels sorry for you,” Montez said. “Nobody cares about your excuses. We’ve got to go and take what we have and make the best of it and try to go out there and execute.”

The Buffs (3-6, 1-5 Pac-12) have struggled to execute over the past month, averaging 14.5 points over the past four games.

In a 31-14 loss at UCLA last Saturday, the passing game was out of sync all night, despite having the experienced Montez and a wealth of talent at receiver.

“We just kind of went out there and looked like average guys,” Montez said. “It didn’t look like we were really in tune or in sync and it just kind of looked like we were all over the place. We missed some throws, we were dropping balls, we weren’t running the right routes. There’s just a lot of things that need to get cleaned up.”

Although this is the Buffs’ first year running the offense installed by coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson, it’s still alarming to have that type of disjointed effort at this point in the season.

“In my mind, I think we’ve got one of the best offenses in the nation when we actually execute,” Montez said. “Us executing, that’s a completely different story. We’ve got to do a better job of that. I think we’ve kind of struggled with that all year and it’s not just one position, it’s not just a group of guys. It’s a little bit of everybody. Everybody sprinkling in some mental mistakes and some errors, it just kind of makes us all look bad.”

Montez said he enjoys learning from Johnson, who he called “one of the best I’ve been around,” but knows the offense has to be better on game day, starting with Saturday against Stanford (4-4, 3-3) at Folsom Field (1:10 p.m.; TV: Pac-12 Networks).

“We’ve got three games left and the most important game for us right now is Stanford at home,” he said. “We’re going to hopefully do our thing and execute, like I’ve been saying, and the rest of take care of itself.

Shenault continues battling

Junior receiver Laviska Shenault isn’t listed on the Buffs’ injury report and he’s played all but one game this season. But, after saying he felt close to 100 percent healthy a week ago, Shenault appeared to be fighting through pain during the Buffs’ loss to UCLA.

Unofficially, Shenault played only 37 of 65 offensive snaps – ranking fifth among CU’s skill position players – against the Bruins.

“Not to get into a lot of detail about his injury situation, but I’ll tell you he is a really tough kid,” head coach Mel Tucker said Tuesday. “He cares about this football team. He works hard every day to be at his best during the week and for game day, and he’s going to continue to do that. At this point in the season, whether it’s college or pro, there’s very few people that are 100 percent at this point (in the season).”

Shenault suffered a core muscle injury on Sept. 21 at Arizona State and missed the next game.

Kicking woes

Junior kicker James Stefanou started this season 10-for-10 on field goals. Since then, he’s 2-for-7, including missing both attempts at UCLA.

Asked about his concerns in that area, Tucker said it comes down to simple execution.

“There’s nothing that I’ve seen on tape in games that’s not correctable, and so I feel like we’ll be able to execute on special teams,” he said.

Notable

Guard Colby Pursell, who has missed five games after having his gall bladder removed, was upgraded to “day to day” on the Buffs’ injury report. … Running back Alex Fontenot (concussion) and backup quarterback Tyler Lytle (shoulder) are also day to day. Fontenot missed the UCLA game and Lytle has been limited in practice the previous two weeks.