Given the choice, Danny Langsdorf would rather have a veteran starting quarterback to work with this season at Colorado.
There are positives to having a group with inexperience, however.
“I think they’re hungry,” said Langsdorf, in his first year as CU’s quarterbacks coach. “These guys are hungry, they’re willing to learn.
“You’ve got a wide open competition and I think that’s going to make these guys perform better. They’re going to have to bring their best every day to be able to show us that they’re good enough to win the job.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty about the upcoming season, which for CU is scheduled to open at Colorado State on Sept. 5. The Buffs are preparing for that date with the Rams, however, and a top priority is identifying a replacement for three-year starting quarterback Steven Montez, who signed with the NFL’s Washington Redskins in April.
Senior Sam Noyer, junior Tyler Lytle and true freshman Brendon Lewis will compete for the job.
“Obviously, Lytle has been sitting behind Steven for a couple years and so has Sam Noyer,” offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. “Then you’ve got Brendon Lewis coming in from Texas who is a highly recruited kid and very talented. I’m really excited to see those guys compete and see them execute.”
Together, the group has thrown 47 career passes – 41 by Noyer and six by Lytle – and having spring practices cancelled because of COVID-19 didn’t help.
“I would say it’s a big disadvantage,” Langsdorf said. “You’d like to be able to go through 15 practices in the spring and have a pretty good idea of your depth. … We’re going to have to, in a short amount of time, figure it out. We’re going to have to stress them, we’re going to have to test them and see who can handle it.”
While Langsdorf hasn’t had a chance to get on the field with the quarterbacks, he has tested them mentally through virtual meetings.
“I’ve been really impressed with the questions and the interaction that we’ve had as a group,” Langsdorf said. “I think we’ve had so much time together, kind of going through cut-ups and going through the playbook and talking fundamentals and having an opportunity to show a lot of different stuff. I think it’s really spurred some good conversation, so I’ve liked that about the group.”
Physically, the quarterbacks have a long way to go and Langsdorf is eager to work with them on the field. He is the fourth quarterbacks coach in four years for Lytle and Noyer, so Langsdorf hopes to take what they know and add to it.
“There’s definitely things that they have gotten from their past coaches that that they can draw from,” he said. “I’m going to have some definite things, details that I need and that we want that are specific to the position but I’m open to different ideas. I’ve got some pretty strong opinions on footwork and timing, but if they’re playing with good effort, I think the fundamentals can always be worked on and there’s always a different style with people, fundamentally. I think that’s just a part of teaching and being a good coach is kind of adapting to what they know and then how I can help them be better.”
Langsdorf will adapt to the skill-sets of each player, too. While CU will have a base system on offense, Langsdorf said they’ll play to the strengths of the quarterback on the field.
“We don’t want to get into a situation where we’re trying to do something and a guy is really struggling with that,” he said. “That’s not really fair to him or our team, so we will definitely tailor it and cater to the starter. I’m not sure how this will play out, but if they’re all good enough to play then we’ll have a package for each of them and see what happens from there and see which is the best, but we will definitely work towards having a system that will be quarterback friendly.”
Which quarterback starts remains to be seen, but Langsdorf will give them all a shot to win the job.
“It might be a deal where we have to rotate a little bit and just kind of figure out day by day by putting guys in different situations and putting guys as a one and a two and a three and switching it up and see how they respond,” he said. “It’ll be very important on our offense to figure out the starter and making sure that he’s going to be ready to play in the opener.”