The expectations for the 2020 CU Buffs football season are not very high from the outside looking in. Now that the Pac-12 has decided to play a conference-only schedule, the Buffaloes may not be talked about as a legitimate contender. However, there are reasons to think that the Buffaloes may be able to be competitive in a Pac-12 only schedule.
First Four Games of 2020 Season a Tough Outlook In Dorrell’s First Year As CU Buffs Coach
There are teams within the Pac-12 that the Buffaloes simply do not have as much talent as. The Colorado Buffaloes have to open up the season on the road against Oregon on September 26. It is not a stretch to say the Ducks are the best team in the conference. The Buffaloes had arguably their most impressive win of the past decade at Autzen Stadium in 2016 but have generally struggled against the Ducks.
This game was originally scheduled in Boulder for the 2020 season, but the conference decided to switch the venue. As a fan, this is frustrating from the standpoint that the Buffaloes had to play in Eugene last year also. The Buffaloes lost that game, 45-3. If there are no future schedule changes due to the schedule changes this season, the Buffaloes will be in year two of a three-year stretch where they have to play AT Oregon every season.
After playing Oregon, the Buffs will have their home opener against their natural conference rival, the Utah Utes. Utah also made the Pac-12 championship. After playing the Utes, CU will have to travel on the road against Arizona and USC. An optimistic Buffaloes fan may have the team at 2-2 after these games, but CU was not given any favors for their first four games. The Buffaloes most assuredly will not be favored in any of these games. It is very frustrating that the team has to start the season playing against the best teams in the conference. They could possibly be starting a freshman quarterback in Brendon Lewis. Colorado will be forced to find their best football very early in the season if they want to win any games.
CU Buffs’ 2020 Season Becomes Somewhat Easier After Bye Week
The Buffaloes will face Arizona State at home
after their bye week on October 31. Recently, the Buffaloes have had their best
games against the Sun Devils. In 2018, CU beat ASU 28-21 to improve to 5-0. Last
season, the Buffaloes had possibly their best win of Mel Tucker’s one-year
tenure in Boulder as they won on the road against the Sun Devils 34-31. Having
more time to prepare for this game, along with the confidence of playing a team
they know they can beat, should help the Buffs in this game.
The second half of the season for the Buffaloes
also includes road trips against Washington and Stanford, and home tilts against
UCLA, Oregon State, and Washington State to close out the season. The Buffaloes
went 2-2 against these teams last season, as they had home wins against the
Huskies and Cardinal in November. The Buffaloes should be able to compete in their
home games even though they may not be favored in them. It may not be a stretch
to say that the Buffaloes will be able to win the majority of the last six
games on their schedule. Having road games against Washington and Stanford is
tough, but the team will also have the confidence boost of having beat both those
teams in 2019.
Getting to .500 May Be a Stretch for the 2020 Colorado Buffaloes Season, But It Could Be Done
From the outsider’s perspective, Colorado is not on any national radar this season. However, the confidence gained from how the team played down the stretch last season may help them in being able to be competitive early in the season. The Buffaloes will probably have to win one of their first four games to have a realistic shot at getting to .500 this season. Out of all the early games, the most winnable game for them in the early going is probably the road game against Arizona, even though Khalil Tate has posed major problems for the Buffaloes the past few seasons. It will be interesting to see how Karl Dorrell’s footprint on the team affects how they compete against the top teams in the conference early in the season. Even though having a winning record may not be in the cards for the Buffaloes this season, they should be able to build a strong foundation for Dorrell to help this team possibly achieve winning seasons in 2021 and beyond.
On Monday, Colorado Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell addressed the media via a Zoom conference. The Buffaloes are looking to start voluntary workouts on June 15.
Dorrell Acknowledges Following Safety Precautions Will Increase Likelihood of 2020 College Football for Colorado Buffaloes
The Coronavirus Pandemic has provided unique challenges for sports teams across the globe. However, Dorrell hopes that these challenges will be met so fans can at least watch the Buffaloes on television in the fall.
“We all want football to be here this fall, and we
have to do what is in our best interest and the best we can to adhere to the
policies that are going to give us the best chance for that to happen,” Dorrell
Dorrell is not exactly the biggest fan of having to
wear a mask on campus but understands why that policy exists.
“It is a pain in the you know what wearing a mask outside,” Dorrell said. “But you know that is the policy they want you to have on campus. We kept them on all the way across campus and back.”
Dorrell Believes College Football Can Take the Lead on Global Issue of Pandemic
The feeling at college campuses across the nation will
be vastly different this fall. The classroom setting will look like a waiting
room at the doctor’s office in a way, as everyone will be wearing a mask.
Even though football and sports in general are not at
the core of the pandemic, Dorrell believes that football can take the lead in showing
how to deal with different aspects of the pandemic.
“This is a global issue, but for the nation, we’re all dealing with this and they are looking at the NFL or College Football to kind of be the lead as to how to handle this thing,” Dorrell said.
Despite Different Offseason, Dorrell Sees Level Playing Field In 2020 College Football
Karl Dorrell will not be taking excuses as the
Colorado Buffaloes prepare for the season. Even though the offseason was
different to begin with, Dorrell believes the team will be prepared.
“We feel we should have had just as good a chance of
being successful as anybody, regardless of our start,” Dorrell said.
All of college football had a different start. Because
of this, Dorrell does not see a disparity in the amount of preparation teams were
able to get.
“I think because of this pandemic everybody is in the same boat, so it actually puts us on a level playing field, in my opinion,” Dorrell said.
Protests Could Bring 2020 Colorado Buffaloes Football Team Even More Together With Community
In Boulder, there are expectations in Karl Dorrell’s
first year. Still, outside of the Boulder and Denver Metro Areas, no one is
expecting much in Dorrell’s first year as the Buffaloes’ head coach.
However, it seems like Dorrell is planting the seeds
for success possibly in the short term and the long term. He seems to be direct
and to the point and is clear about how he wants his team to act. Dorrell does
not want any excuses but has praised the team’s togetherness and willingness to
adjust to the times.
The team seems to be together as one cohesive unit. Wide
Receiver K.D. Nixon led the Boulder community as they peacefully protested
police brutality in wake of George Floyd’s death on June 5. Colorado Buffaloes
football is a huge pillar of the Boulder community, and the team taking this
stand could help in uniting themselves with the community.
Karl Dorrell stated that the team will have a community-based
event to address the many subjects that have been talked about in wake of
George Floyd’s death at least one a month. Dorrell acknowledged that certain important
discussions may wane over time. Still, he wants to make sure that the team
continues to empower the community to have these tough but necessary
conversations in the months to come.
“I think it is important for our country to step up
like this and empower our young people to be a big part of the process,”
This week, the Pac-12 Coaches Media Webinar series took place. Every coach spoke about the challenges associated with preparing for the college football season, whenever that may be. The 2020 Colorado Buffaloes will have their own set of challenges they have to navigate. One of these challenges will be determining the quarterback position.
Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell was a part of Tuesday’s panel, which included coaches Jimmy Lake of Washington and Kyle Whittingham of Utah. The main similarity between the programs of Colorado, Washington, and Utah is that each team does not have a clear-cut Week 1 starting quarterback.
Dorrell will eventually have to choose between Tyler Lytle, Brendon Lewis, and Sam Noyer as his starting quarterback once the season actually starts.
Lytle, Lewis, and Noyer Will Each Have Opportunity at Starting Quarterback Job for 2020 Colorado Buffaloes
Redshirt junior Tyler Lytle, is the longest-tenured QB with the program. So, he may end up being the best option for the team to start the season. Lytle does not have much in-game experience but is the best pro-style option on the roster.
Brendon Lewis, a true freshman, could still be the starter in the fall. He was ranked number 257 in the ESPN 300 and could be the best dual-threat option on the roster. Although Lewis may have more trouble winning the starting job because of circumstances, he should be able to see playing time. He is a unique talent and may be the next long-term starter for the Colorado Buffaloes.
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Sam Noyer will be entering his final year of eligibility. Last season, he played safety for the Buffaloes. While playing quarterback in 2018, Noyer won the hearts of some Buffaloes fans in 2018 when he laid a hit out against Washington State after he threw an interception. Noyer has been a mainstay in the program since 2016, so he may also have a chance to see in-game action during his senior season.
Karl Dorrell stated that none of these quarterbacks have had much time to get reps in. He has film from each of these players, but Colorado did not get any spring practices before college sports were shut down. There will be minimal answers at the most important position for the Buffaloes until they are able to hit the practice field.
2020 Colorado Buffaloes Need the Requisite Amount of Practice Time to be Ready for Season
of who the starting quarterback ends up being, Dorrell stated the need for at
least a six-week window before the start of the season. Many predictions have
been made about the 2020 Colorado Buffaloes, and they have not been favorable.
Most pundits have the Buffaloes winning three to four games this season. For a
program that is hungry for a bowl victory, they need the practice reps.
Kyle Whittingham, Utah’s head coach, brought up that things may not necessarily be equal in the NCAA. He is hoping that some of Utah’s players can get back into the weight room by June 1. However, he said that the lead-in time into the season needs to be the same. Different schools in the Pac-12 will be dealt different hands, which could complicate the season even more.
2020 Pac-12 Season in Question Depending on What California Pac-12 Schools End up Doing
President Mark Emmert stated that the NCAA will leave it up to the conferences
as to when they want to start their seasons. Karl Dorrell, along with Jimmy
Lake, stated that they wanted the opposite to happen.
California State school system, which comprises 23 schools, has already decided
to have their classes completely online in the fall. However, the California
Pac-12 schools are not part of the Cal State system. Still, with Gavin Newsom
casting doubt on California holding live sporting events with fans, coupled
with Los Angeles’ stay-at-home order being extended to the end of July, it may
be hard to imagine Pac-12 games being played in front of fans at the season’s
start in September.
Even if the Pac-12 goes the safer route, it could further alienate the conference in the College Football Playoff conversation. The conference has not had a team in the playoff since the 2016 season. The Pac-12 may suffer by not playing in conjunction with the rest of the Power 5 conferences, but it could also give the conference more visibility. If people were able to watch the Pac-12 more readily, they may realize the quality of the conference.
Regardless of what happens, the Colorado Buffaloes have worked hard to be ready for the challenges that the 2020 season will present.
Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Daniel Arias has been learning to adjust to life away from his teammates.
There is rampant speculation around whether the 2020 college football season will be played due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Players cannot train with their teams, and coaches have to rely on video calls to be able to communicate with their teams. Players are used to having a routine associated with getting prepared for the season.
“Being away from my brothers feels weird. It’s just different, not having to play football,” Arias said.
Daniel Arias Has Been Working Out With K.D. Nixon Despite Pac-12 Suspending Organized Team Activities
However, Daniel Arias has been working out with fellow wide receiver K.D. Nixon in the morning. These workouts are not team-sanctioned, so they are not subject to Pac-12 policy.
“We’re just out there just putting in work every single day, not letting (the absence of team workouts) stop us, but just being safe at the same time.”
Colorado Buffaloes Coaches Have Done a Good Job Providing Playbook and Film
When players are communicating, they are still holding each other accountable. Arias said that teammates are making sure they are staying in shape and learning the playbook. With having a new coach in Karl Dorrell, one may assume that learning the playbook would be more difficult.
Darrin Chiaverini has been a staple with Colorado football over the past few
seasons. He has reclaimed his old post as offensive coordinator, so the
playbook is similar to the one Daniel Arias had in 2018, his freshman year.
Arias believes that this playbook will be easier for him to learn because of
Arias said he appreciated how the coaches have made access to the playbook and film easy for the team. Because of this, the players and coaches still operate as a cohesive unit.
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“The coaches have done a really good job being flexible and having all of us together on the same page.”
The team’s plan is to meet three times a week via Zoom video calls. Although the team may be falling behind in some aspects, Arias hopes that the summer will help the team prepare for the season.
summer comes around, hopefully we can come back together, catch up, and start
However, Arias emphasized how players need to hold themselves accountable for learning the playbook now. He stressed the need for his teammates to make sure they are pulling their weight both on and off the field. If each player does this, Arias believes it will lead to team success.
Daniel Arias Stayed In Boulder to Keep Up With Education
players on the team also stayed in Boulder, while others left for home. The
majority of students at CU Boulder have left the Boulder area because of the
pandemic. However, Arias decided to stay in Boulder, as he believes it presents
the best for his education.
just wanted to stay on campus and just finish this semester strong and do what
I needed to do in order to be successful this semester before going home.”
has been able to keep with his routine because of school. Even though there is
no football practice, he still feels a sense of normalcy.
me, it’s like a normal day of school,” Arias said.
added that he does not have much free time because of how he is keeping with
his routine of training in the morning. In the afternoon, he will attend
virtual classes and does his homework. However, he still prefers being in the
classroom to having virtual classes.
“I would prefer physically going to class instead of doing the zoom (virtual classes),” Arias said. “You could be in bed listening to the lecture and it’s just different from being in class physically.”
Daniel Arias and Colorado Buffaloes Will Still Work Hard Despite Uncertainty
Safety is paramount in these times, as the COVID-19 Pandemic has swept across the United States. Some are speculating that the 2020 college football season may not take place until the spring of 2021. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the college football season, Arias’ main focus is on becoming a better football player.
“We all have the same goal of winning the championship,” Arias said. “We’re going to keep working hard.”
Arias stated that the experience would be “different” playing in front of fans. For now, he wants to focus on what he can control: becoming a better football player.
Colorado Buffaloes Football has had a tough time shining in the national spotlight this past decade. However, the new decade brings a fresh start for the Buffaloes. Karl Dorrell, who is “in for the long haul”, will try to put a stamp on what Colorado Buffaloes football is.
There may not be any more “Relentless” hashtags. Dorrell brings a calming presence to a Colorado Buffaloes Football program that has had more vocal coaches with Mike MacIntyre and Mel Tucker in the past. However, Dorrell was able to keep familiar faces around. He was given a great recruiting class in his first year. Also, he has a team with battle-tested players, as the Buffaloes were in seven one-score games last season.
There is a foundation that could lead to success for the Buffaloes. Now, the job is to keep building and contributing to the culture at CU.
Maintaining Continuity at the Coordinator Position First Key to Success for Colorado Buffaloes Football
Having Darrin Chiaverini
returning as offensive coordinator will help keep some continuity for the
Buffaloes. Even though Laviska Shenault declared for the draft, the Buffaloes
have leadership on offense starting with wide receiver K.D. Nixon. Nixon
decided to return for his senior season after initially declaring for the NFL
On defense, the Buffaloes still will be led by Tyson Summers. Their front seven will be led by Mustafa Johnson and Nate Landman. They also return Derrion Rakestraw in the secondary. The defense has the veteran leadership. They could see more improvement in 2020 after making strides in 2019.
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Building Upon the Recruiting Class Could Be Biggest Indicator of Buffaloes’ National Relevance
Colorado is currently ranked 36th in 247 Sports’ 2020 Football Team Rankings. They are 7th in the Pac-12. Many credit the job Mel Tucker was able to do with recruiting in his one year in Boulder. However, many things have changed since Karl Dorrell took over. Antonio Alfano was suspended indefinitely by the program after violating team rules. Alfano, who transferred from Alabama, was looked at as one of the major victories that Mel Tucker had in recruiting.
Darrin Chiaverini is regarded as the Buffaloes’ best recruiter. He is the recruiting coordinator, and helped to bring in a wide receiver class this year. Brenden Rice, the son of Jerry Rice, was a major victory for the Buffaloes in recruiting. The Buffaloes need to get a top-40 recruiting class in 2021. Achieving this would be great for the long-term hope of Colorado football returning to national relevance.
Keeping Games Close Important for Immediate Success of Colorado Buffaloes Football
Colorado was in seven
one-score games in 2019. Their record in those games was 4-3. However, the
Buffaloes were rarely the team blowing out their opponents, as they lost three
games on the road by 30-plus points, and had a 17-point loss to UCLA. To become
more nationally relevant, the Buffaloes will have to prove they can compete
against the conference’s best.
However, some of the Buffaloes’ one score wins were impressive in 2019. They beat an up-and-coming Arizona State team in Tempe last season. Arizona State is one of the favorites in the Pac-12 South to start the 2020 season. The Buffaloes proved they are capable of playing up to their competition at home, as they had a close loss at home to USC last season. However, this competitiveness the Buffaloes displayed did not transfer on the road. Their losses were ugly, including against Oregon.
The Ducks will be coming
to Boulder when the Buffaloes open up Pac-12 play on September 26. This game
will be one of the “litmus tests” for the Buffaloes this season. Will this be
the game where the Buffaloes showcase their improvement under Karl Dorrell, or
will it be more of the same?
Fans are hoping for
improvement, but many times their early season hopes have been erased rather
quickly. The Buffaloes have a tough schedule in many regards this season.
However, making a bowl game is an attainable goal for the Buffaloes. They have
experienced close games, have the continuity to build upon success, and have
been making inroads on the recruiting circuit.
Every college football team, including the Colorado Buffaloes, will have to navigate unforeseen waters as the COVID-19 Pandemic rages on. The Buffaloes are in a unique situation, as players have not had time to get used to how new head coach Karl Dorrell manages the program. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks as the world finds out more about how to deal with the pandemic.
Lucky for Buffaloes, Offensive and Defensive Schemes Should Be Similar
When one looks at the Colorado Buffaloes football program, they will notice how the team is on their third head coach in three years. However, the offensive and defensive coordinators, Darrin Chiaverini and Tyson Summers have been with the program multiple years.
The defense improved under Tyson Summers last season, as the Buffaloes had late-season home wins against Stanford and Washington. In those two games, the Buffaloes gave up 13 and 14 points, respectively. The 2020 season will be Summers’ second season as the defensive coordinator. Making a huge leap in year one to year two in Summers’ scheme may be key to the Buffaloes making their first bowl game since 2016.
For the offense, Darrin Chiaverini reclaimed the
role he had with the team from 2016-18. In this role, Chiaverini was able to
help his quarterbacks be threats both in the air and on the ground. Both Steven
Montez and Sefo Liufau had 300-yard passing and 100-yard rushing games in 2016
Brendon Lewis could win the Buffaloes’ starting job as a true freshman. However, the possibility of not going through the typical spring practice routine may hinder his chances. Chiaverini may not be able to see live reps from Lewis as he would usually be able to.
All of the new players in the new recruiting class that Mel Tucker was instrumental in may have trouble adjusting to the playbook. The Buffaloes may have to rely on upperclassmen to help freshmen like Brendon Lewis learn the playbook.
Buffaloes Are Not the Only Team in Their Situation
While these problems are unique to Colorado football, every college football team is going to deal with a myriad of problems because of COVID-19. For the Buffaloes to have a successful season, they will have to study the playbook. If players are forced to stay home, it will be harder for them to hold each other accountable for knowing the playbook. With a new coach, the sooner the team practices, they will be better off.
Right now, there are meetings scheduled for the football team starting on March 29. The University of Colorado is on spring break this week, so it will be interesting to see how the situation develops in the coming days.
Will Fans Be At Colorado Football’s Home Opener On September 12?
At this point, the whole sports world is in
flux. Right now there should be talk about the upcoming Sweet 16 games in the
NCAA Tournament. Because of how the COVID-19 situation is developing, it may be
hard for fans to realistically think college stadiums will be full in
September. While there has not been too much doubt regarding the 2020 College
Football Season being played, it is reasonable to think that the Buffaloes’
home opener against Fresno State on September 12 could be played in front of
While this issue is pure speculation, it will
be interesting to see how fans would react. Fans that would potentially attend
games and buy season tickets may want assurances about their safety. Athletes also may need assurances that they
will be playing in a safe environment.
As the uncertainty regarding the future continues to be on everyone’s mind, it is important to keep the safety of the student-athletes in mind. Colorado Football will need to find a way to effectively prepare themselves for the 2020 season. With a first-year head coach, how the Buffaloes emerge from their situation in the coming weeks or months will be telling in how they end up performing in 2020.
Quarterback Steven Montez was an important figure in Colorado Buffaloes football from 2016-2019, setting numerous records during his time in Boulder. He began his career as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and started every game for the Buffaloes from 2017-2019. Montez accrued an overall record of 17-22 (9-21 in Pac-12 play).
Montez has set over 40 school records. He is the all-time leader in passing yards with 9,649 passing yards and has 63 passing touchdowns.
How representative of Steven Montez is His 17-22 Record?
Montez had some great moments in a Buffaloes uniform but also had some not so great moments. Accountant Brandon Westbrook, a Buffaloes fan for over 20 years, believes that the record is representative of the type of quarterback Montez was at CU.
does have some stats that make him look a lot better, but I think ultimately
his (17-22 record as the Buffaloes’ starter) speaks to the caliber of quarterback
he was,” Westbrook said.
A fan may look at a 17-22 record and think Montez was mediocre. Some fans, including Westbrook, believe this to be the case. However, Neill Woelk, the contributing editor at CUBuffs.com, points out an important statistic that he believes sets Montez apart: touchdown to interception ratio. Montez ranks No. 1 in that category with 63 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.
Despite Records, Fans Left Frustrated With No Bowl Game Appearances Last Three Seasons
Many fans will give reasons why Steven Montez was great for the Buffaloes, while other fans may give reasons as to why it may have been frustrating for fans to watch his career unfold. Despite fans being awed by his arm strength and physical capabilities, Montez never led the Buffaloes to a bowl game in his three full seasons as the starting quarterback (2017-2019).
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“At the end of the day though, we never really got to the promised land,” CU Student Drew Sharek said. “(Montez was a) heck of a talent, great arm, great personality, but just never was able to get the ultimate job done (of making a bowl game).”
The Colorado Buffaloes football team finished 5-7 each of the last three seasons with Montez as the starter. Fans of any team lay a good chunk of the responsibility for the team’s record on the quarterback. Montez was never able to get the team to the promised land, and that is why he will not be looked in the same light as other CU quarterbacks, such as Kordell Stewart and even Sefo Liufau.
However, there are plenty of people within the Buffaloes’ faithful who supported Montez, including Keith McCormick, a Buffaloes fan for 60 years who lives in Westminster, Colorado.
“I’m a fan of Steven Montez,” McCormick said. “I’ve always believed that he plays better under pressure and under a faster-paced game.”
Montez’s Biggest Home Win: September 7, 2019 Versus Nebraska
One example of Montez playing well under pressure was on September 7, 2019, when the Buffaloes welcomed the rival Nebraska Cornhuskers to Folsom Field.
They trailed Nebraska 17-0 at halftime and looked out of sorts under new head coach Mel Tucker. Then, the Buffaloes offense and Montez alike got going in the second half.
McCormick remembers the play that ended with 14:06 remaining in the fourth quarter that cut Nebraska’s lead to 17-14. It was the flea flicker to wide receiver K.D. Nixon that silenced the Nebraska invaders at Folsom Field. Montez took the pitch back from running back Alex Fontenot and threw the ball deep down the middle of the field to Nixon, who dashed into the end zone.
“That one play completely turned the game around, and the momentum and the emotion and gave (the Buffaloes) the opportunity to come back,” McCormick said.
It was time for Montez to come up strong in the clutch. The offense got to the Nebraska 26-yard line with 46 seconds left to play, and Montez threw a perfectly placed pass to wide receiver Tony Brown in the right corner of the end zone to tie the game at 31. The Buffaloes would go on to win the game in overtime, 34-31, with Montez recording 375 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception to go along with it. Both McCormick and Neill Woelk believe that this game was his legacy game.
going to go down as his highlight as a CU Buff,” McCormick said.
“That’s the kind of game that I’m going to remember from Steven because it demanded a big play at a big moment,” Woelk said.
Montez Also Beat Nebraska On the Road in 2018
Along with the heroics of 2019, Montez led the Buffaloes to victory against the Cornhuskers in Lincoln on September 8, 2018. He was able to accomplish this in what was Nebraska head coach Scott Frost’s first game in charge. Frost, who was Nebraska’s quarterback on their national championship-winning team in 1997 and is revered by the Cornhusker faithful. The Buffaloes played spoiler, as the offense got the ball back with 2:23 left to play in the game. Montez delivered, as he hit wide receiver Laviska Shenault for a 40-yard touchdown with 1:06 left to play, giving the Buffaloes a 33-28 lead. The defense would hold on for the victory.
When Buffaloes fans think Steven Montez, the two wins against Nebraska will stand out as some of the best memories of the team while he was quarterback. Even though Nebraska football may be looked at by some as worse than Colorado, the win was vitally important to Buffaloes fans.
Beating Oregon in 2016 Another One of Montez’s Great Moments
Another standout game in the minds of many fans was Montez’s first start of his career his redshirt freshman year in 2016. The Buffaloes had never beat Oregon since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, and Montez had to come in relief for injured starting quarterback Sefo Liufau. Montez introduced himself to the fans and left a great first impression, leading the Buffaloes to a 41-38 victory in Eugene. Drew Sharek was particularly impressed with many throws by Montez in this game, including his pass to wide receiver Bryce Bobo to give the Buffaloes the lead in the fourth quarter.
was incredible to see him scramble around (the pocket), stay calm, and make
some absolutely perfect throws,” Sharek said.
Oregon was thought to be a stepping stone for greater achievements to be had in
Montez’s career, but Brandon Westbrook believes these achievements never came.
would have thought he would have gotten better over the years but I actually think
he regressed each year,” Westbrook said.
Frustrating Losses Also a Part of Montez’s Legacy
A frustrating loss that sticks out in Westbrook’s mind is when the Buffaloes played USC on October 25, 2019 in Montez’s senior season. The Buffaloes were coming into the game off of two embarrassing road losses to Oregon and Washington State, 45-3 and 41-10, respectively. The Buffaloes built up a 31-21 lead going into the fourth quarter but would ultimately lose the game 35-31.
Montez left the game momentarily late in the third quarter after he took a hit while rolling out to his left. He came back, and Westbrook thought he did not look the same. Even though it was the defense that gave up the 10-point lead, Montez and the offense had one last chance. On a 4th and 4 in the Buffaloes’ own territory, Montez threw a swing route to running back Alex Fontenot that was behind the line of scrimmage. Westbrook believes this was a bad decision by Montez and a product of not being able to improve each year.
“When the offense is looking out of sync, that comes back on the quarterback,” Westbrook said.
Inconsistencies Go Back to Constant Coaching Carousel
may have been wildly inconsistent at many points throughout his career, but he
also had to deal with coaching changes throughout his career. He had three
quarterback coaches, three offensive coordinators, and two different head
coaches in his career. Neill Woelk attributes this as one of the main reasons
Montez was inconsistent.
been hard for Steven to develop any kind of continuity because every year
there’s a new quarterback coach saying, okay, this is the way we do things,”
have expected the Buffaloes to have more success with Montez at quarterback,
but it never yielded the results of a bowl game. However, Keith McCormick felt
empathetic towards Montez with having to go through coaching changes.
just felt for the kid,” McCormick said. “(Montez) had a lot on his plate during
mid-season last year. I know he was close to coach (Mike) MacIntyre.”
Montez could have foregone his senior season to test the NFL waters but decided to stay. He had some good moments as the quarterback on first-year head coach Mel Tucker’s team. He led the Buffaloes to surprise victories in conference against Stanford and Washington. Although the season did produce its struggles, Tucker stood by Montez the whole season.
“Hats off to Mel Tucker for hanging in with him and letting him finish out his senior year,” McCormick said.
Montez Will Be Remembered As Decent, Not Great Quarterback
Some of Montez’s struggles can be attributed to the coaching changes, but he kept showing the same inconsistencies throughout his time at CU. He was never able to elevate his play enough against good teams, and that will be the knock against him. Steven Montez was a great statistical quarterback at CU, but in reality, he was a decent to average quarterback for the Buffaloes.
McCormick goes up to Boulder for the parade before the first game each year and met Steven Montez at this parade.
was taking some video and he walked right past me,” McCormick said. “I took a
couple snapshots and a selfie, and he was very professional about it, very
friendly and talked with me.”
The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes season has been a roller coaster ride. Tough losses at home and blowout losses on the road have made this season tough, but there have been bright spots. The goal from the start was to make a bowl game. It may take a miracle for the Buffaloes to achieve that goal, but Mel Tucker has laid the foundation for a successful tenure in Boulder.
First Up: Washington
The Buffaloes host the Washington Huskies in College Football Week 13 next week on ESPN at 8 p.m. mountain time (7 p.m. pacific time). CU has never beat the Huskies since joining the Pac-12. In the 2016 Pac-12 Championship Game, the Huskies beat the Buffaloes 41-10, and the Buffaloes have never been the same since.
Washington has looked more vulnerable in 2019, as they sit at 6-4 (3-4 Pac-12 North). They are led by quarterback Jacob Eason, who will look to further expose the Buffaloes secondary. Eason, a transfer from Georgia, had high expectations from the Husky faithful. However, Washington ranks only sixth in offensive pass efficiency in the Pac-12. Eason is ready to have a breakout game against a Buffaloes defense who is second to last in defensive pass efficiency this season. For all the progress many believe the Buffaloes have made in Mel Tucker’s first year, the defense has been a weak spot.
the Buffaloes have a chance to win this game. That chance is larger than most
may think. ESPN’s Football Power Index only gives the Buffaloes a 17.1% chance
to win this game. Despite the Buffaloes being 4-6, the respect that they have
been given nationally is nonexistent. The team has played hard in every game at
home. With the emotions of it being senior day and the possible last home game
for star receiver Laviska Shenault, one should expect the Buffaloes to show up
and possibly win this game.
After Washington, Buffaloes head to Utah
With a win against Washington, the Buffaloes would sit at 5-6. In the last week of the College Football regular season game, they have to go to Rice-Eccles Stadium to play Utah. In the latest College Football Power Rankings As They Should Be, Utah was ranked 7th. They are on a collision course with Oregon, as they will most likely be the two teams playing for the Pac-12 title at Levi’s Stadium.
FPI gives the Buffaloes only a 4.3% chance to win this game. It may take a
miracle for the Buffaloes to do just that. After beating CSU 52-31 in Denver
and Arizona State 34-31 in Tempe, the Buffaloes have lost their past three road
games by an average of 30 points. They lost to UCLA 31-14, and they just lost
to Utah 49-3 in College Football Week 12.
Bowl Eligibility Longshot Due to Missed Opportunities
prediction for the Buffaloes is that they will have a 50-50 chance to beat
Washington, but it will take a miracle for them to beat Utah and make
themselves bowl eligible. The games that they will look back on as the main
reasons for not making a bowl game are their home losses to Air Force, Arizona,
Against Air Force in College Football Week 3, the Buffaloes jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but then they had to rally from down 23-10 to force overtime. The Falcons would score on the first play of overtime, and the Buffaloes would lose 30-23. One of Mel Tucker’s main goals as the Buffaloes’ head coach would be to show recruits in Colorado that CU was the best team in the state. Losing to Air Force was a bad look for the program, and Air Force also beat CSU in College Football Week 12.
Next, the Buffaloes lost a 35-30 heartbreaker to Arizona in College Football Week 6. They were unable to contain Khalil Tate through the air, as he threw for 404 yards and gashed the Buffaloes defense. Against USC in College Football Week 9, the Buffaloes relinquished a 31-21 fourth quarter lead. This loss was extremely frustrating because Montez got hurt, but then he came back into the game and was ineffective in the fourth quarter. The defense had chances to possibly end the game, but let USC get chunk plays and eventually score to take a 35-31 lead.
The Legacy of the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes
The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes will have a complicated legacy when they are talked about in the future. They will be remembered most for their comeback at Folsom Field against Nebraska, but will also be remembered for having narrow losses to teams that, at least from their perspective, they should have beat.
People will remember Steven Montez as a quarterback who showed flashes at times, but sometimes left Buffaloes fans wanting more. Montez is first in CU history in touchdown-to-interception ratio. Still, CU being 11th in quarterback efficiency this season shows how Montez was never able to have legendary moments as the Buffaloes’ quarterback. Along with Laviska Shenault and Nate Landman, Montez was a key leader of this team. It is frustrating that the Buffaloes have not been able to make a bowl game the last two seasons with the talented leaders they had.
With the hype surrounding recruiting for the Buffaloes, the future does look bright for them. They can lay a foundation for future success by being able to win their last two games. However, this task is close to insurmountable, and there is no real expectation that the Buffaloes will win out. If they are somehow able to do the impossible, it could bring out a new wave of enthusiasm for the Buffaloes now and into the future.
The Colorado Buffaloes had an opportunity to resurrect their bowl hopes against the Stanford Cardinal at Folsom Field in College Football Week 11. Despite the offense being held in check and the defense giving up another long touchdown pass to start the fourth quarter. They did just that, as Evan Price kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the Buffaloes a much needed 16-13 victory. This result may have come as a surprise to people who may not follow the Buffaloes as closely. For Buffaloes fans, it was relieving to see the Buffaloes finally pull out a victory in a close home game after the heartbreaking losses to Arizona and USC earlier in 2019.
Three Phases Complement Each Other From the Onset
The Buffaloes did a good job playing complementary football across all three phases in the first quarter. The offense had not scored an opening-drive touchdown since College Football Week 4 against Arizona State. Mel Tucker took the aggressive approach and chose to receive the football. He did the same against Washington State when it went woefully bad for the Buffaloes, but the opposite would occur this time. Offensively, the Buffaloes looked like the more aggressive team. They were winning the line of scrimmage on their first drive with tough running by Alex Fontenot. Montez would score on a 13-yard scramble, and Tucker’s decision paid off greatly. Montez would become the second player in Colorado Buffaloes history to go over 10,000 total yards on the touchdown run.
Stanford was also able to run the ball on their opening possession. However, once they were knocking on the redzone, the defense tightened and was able to hold them to a field goal.
The special teams recovered a muffed punt after the Buffaloes stalled on their next offensive possession. Unfortunately, they were called for holding on the play, nullifying the fumble. However, the Buffaloes defense would force Stanford into a three-and-out. It finally seemed like the Buffaloes were excelling at playing complementary football.
A Big Mistake for Montez, but the Defense Gets Timely Turnover
On the next drive, the Buffaloes got to Stanford territory. Montez would make a big mistake on a first down. He saw his receiver open to his left, but Stanford senior safety J.J. Parsons picked him off. Fortunately for the Buffaloes, the defense stepped up and only allowed a field goal on the ensuing Stanford possession. The Buffaloes still had the 7-6 lead.
Stanford would get the ball back, and the defense got back to their calling card early in the season: a timely turnover. Safety Derrion Rakestraw would pick off Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello on a deep pass to give the ball back to the Buffaloes. They had 3:42 left to score before halftime. The offense would follow through, as Evan Price kicked a 34-yard field goal. As was the case with the last two home games against Arizona and USC, the Colorado Buffaloes entered the halftime locker room with the lead.
Third Quarter Uneventful, but Defense Falters to Start 4th
Stanford and Colorado were playing their game at the same time as what many in the media were pinning as the “Game of the Year” in College Football 2019. Fans may have had one eye on the Buffaloes while having another eye on how the LSU-Alabama contest was unfolding. With how boring the third quarter was, it would not have been to anyone’s surprise if watching Joe Burrow picking apart the Alabama defense was more entertaining even to die-hard fans of the Buffaloes or Cardinal.
The Buffaloes were able to shut Stanford down the whole game when they crossed the 50-yard line. Stanford had a chance to make it 10-9, but Ryan Sanborn missed the field goal try. The offense was unable to muster much offense on their two third-quarter possessions and did not do much of anything. They punted twice, and Stanford had the ball to start the fourth quarter trailing 10-6.
Colorado had gone a full three quarters without giving up a big play to the Cardinal. However, all Buffaloes fans’ worst fears were realized one minute into the fourth quarter. The defense forced Stanford into a 3rd-and-15 from their own 21-yard line. Unfortunately, they faltered as they let receiver Simi Fehoko pop open. He went through the entire CU secondary to give the Cardinal a 13-10 lead. The defense has given up so many big plays this season to lose games.
The Offense, Able to be Methodical, Does Enough to Win
The offense was able to be the defense’s best friend after the big play. They kept the ball for 12:31 in the fourth quarter. Moving the football methodically, the offensive line started winning the war in the trenches again. Alex Fontenot gained 36 yards on seven carries on the ensuing possession. The Buffaloes had a 3rd-and-2 from the Stanford six yard line. However, Montez missed a wide-open K.D. Nixon for a touchdown to take the lead. Despite being pressured, it was still a throw that a senior quarterback is expected to make. Instead of taking the lead, the Buffaloes had to settle for a field goal to tie the game at 13.
The defense did their job on the ensuing Stanford drive, forcing them into a three-and-out. After the offense held the ball for 6:31 on their last possession, this stop was huge. The Stanford defense was forced back onto the field. The Buffaloes got the ball back with six minutes to play. They had a win in front of them. After fans left Folsom Field disappointed the past three home games, it was time for them to experience the joy of winning.
The Buffaloes were able to methodically get into Stanford territory, but the Cardinal defense stood up and forced them into a 4th-and-1 at the Stanford 34-yard line. It was time for the Buffaloes to let their star player, Laviska Shenault, get the ball. They handed it to him on an inside sweep play, and he muscled his way for a five-yard gain. Stanford did not use any of their remaining timeouts, and the Buffaloes had a win right in front of them.
Evan Price would deliver on a 37-yard field goal, and the Buffaloes finally broke their five-game losing streak. The defense finally broke their 14-game streak of giving up 30+ points, and they did this emphatically. The Buffaloes needed to win one of these close in-conference home games. They finally got a sense of relief at home for the first time since beating Nebraska.
A Momentum Boost for the Buffaloes Heading Into Bye Week
The Buffaloes sit at 4-6 now, and they still have a chance at a bowl game. However, some may argue that it may take a prayer for them to make it. Winning against a name-brand school such as Stanford is a huge momentum boost for Mel Tucker. It improves team morale and is great for recruiting. Next week, the Buffaloes are on bye, but they will play Washington on November 23, which will be senior day. Steven Montez will have one more chance to build upon his legacy in front of the Folsom faithful.
Washington sits at 6-4 and also is on bye before the play the Buffaloes. Both teams will be well-rested. If any of the Buffaloes’ home games are any indication, fans should be ready for a tightly knit affair. It is up to the Buffaloes to build upon finally winning a close conference home game and continue to show they belong with the name brands of the Pac-12.
Watching the Colorado Buffaloes in Week 10 left fans teetering on the edge and get to the breaking point. A bad start and inconsistencies in all three phases doomed the Buffaloes, as they left the Rose Bowl with a 31-14 loss to the UCLA Bruins in College Football Week 10? The Buffaloes did get good news via Mel Tucker’s Twitter:
Bad Start Dooms the Colorado Buffaloes
The offense looked out of sync all night. Alex Fontenot, the starting running back, was inactive. The offense received the kickoff. Hoping for a first-possession jolt they have rarely got on the road in Pac-12 play, they went three and out.
The defense came into the game as the worst third down defense in the Pac-12, letting opponents convert 49.5% of the time. They got gashed on the first drive, and did not look ready to play. This start was frustrating considering how they played in their previous two road games against Oregon and Washington State, getting outscored 86-13.
Before anyone could blink, the Buffaloes were down 10-0. Matters got even worse as Steven Montez threw an interception. UCLA scored on the very next play to take a 17-0 lead. This interception was increasingly frustrating because K.D. Nixon looked to be open earlier in the route. Montez decided to wait until he had met up with UCLA defenders to throw it.
It was still the first quarter, and the Buffaloes looked like they had not fixed what has caused their terrible road starts in Pac-12 play. The Buffaloes did not pick up a first down until there was 3:35 left in the first quarter, and looked like they were going to get pummeled. In fact, they would not cross midfield until early in the second quarter. The Colorado Buffaloes have too much offensive talent for this to be acceptable.
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Offensive, Defensive, and Special Teams Inconsistencies
Laviska Shenault did not have nearly the same impact he had a week ago against USC (9 receptions, 172 yards, 1 TD). Against UCLA, he had three receptions for 16 yards and a 15-yard run on a wildcat play. Injuries have limited his availability, but it is frustrating when the star of the team has such a limited impact even when he is out on the field.
Trailing 17-0, Montez would have a rushing touchdown in the 2nd quarter to put the Buffaloes on the board. He would add a passing touchdown in the fourth quarter. He was inconsistent the whole night, as there were aspects of his game that simply not good enough. The running game was effective in spurts, but backup running back Jaren Mangham was never able to take over the game.
The offense drove into UCLA territory to end the first half, and had a chance to cut the lead to 17-10. However, James Stefanou missed a 47-yard field goal, and the Buffaloes were unable to keep the momentum they built off of the touchdown drive where Montez scored.
Buffaloes Defense Improves Throughout Game, But Can’t Get Rid of Dubious Streak
The defense held their own after the first quarter, as they forced UCLA to punt on three straight possessions in the second quarter. It looked as if the Buffaloes would have a chance to get back into the game. If the defense played well, the offense would get their opportunities to get back into the game. Carson Wells got an interception in UCLA territory to start the 2nd half, but James Stefanou would miss another field goal, this time a 29-yarder.
Consequently, the defense could not get rid of their dubious, now 14-game streak of allowing 30+ points to opposing teams. Sure, some things went better after the first quarter for the Buffaloes. Despite their effort, the first quarter set them back in every regard. They were unable to establish their presence even if one might consider them equal to UCLA as far as talent is concerned.
Bad Pac-12 Conference Road Losses Put 2019 Buffaloes Season On Brink
Overall, this game was hard to watch. It was a rehash of road losses in the Pac-12 from previous seasons and this season alike. There was never really a moment where it felt like momentum could completely swing in the Buffaloes’ favor. Unfortunately, the same miscues that led to two consecutive 5-7 campaigns in 2017 and 2018 have bled over into this season. Even worse, this talented Buffaloes team may finish with an even worse record than their two predecessors.
Mel Tucker is tasked with the challenge of creating a new norm. He has been able to coach the players up well, and they have shown up in front of their home fans. However, the team has always struggled on the road in Pac-12 play since joining the conference, and they have only had one true breakthrough win on the road in the Pac-12. In 2016 against Oregon, they won 41-38 and catapulted themselves to a Pac-12 South title. That was supposed to be the new normal, and everyone thought the rise of Colorado football was real that season. The more this Buffaloes team loses, the more that season looks like an anomaly in 15 years of inferiority regardless of the conference the Buffaloes have been in.
Looking ahead to Colorado Buffaloes Week 11
In College Football Week 11, the Buffaloes will be back home for homecoming week against the Stanford Cardinal. They are currently 3.5-point underdogs for this game, but the Buffaloes could certainly win this game. This game presents another opportunity for the Buffaloes to show they belong on the field with one of the name brands in the conference of champions. Stanford has had an up-and-down season, sitting at 4-4. The game is of the utmost importance as far as bowl eligibility, as the Buffaloes need to win out at this point to make a bowl game sitting at 3-6.