It was a glimpse. A tease. An early forecast of what the defending Pac-12 South Champions might look like in 2017. Saturday the Buffs wrapped up their Spring season at Folsom Field with the annual Spring Showcase, a last chance to see live football until the season opener against Colorado State on September 1.
Here are three takeaways from the Buffs Spring season:
1. The secondary will be just fine.
There’s no doubt losing three potential draft picks (CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Ahkello Witherspoon & S Tedric Thompson) hurts. But if the first play from Saturday’s scrimmage portion of the showcase is any indication, the Buffs secondary will be just fine. Looking to get the offense on the board in a hurry, Quarterback Steven Montez threw deep to Devin Ross on the very first play. It looked like a sure-fire connection between the incumbent starting QB and one of his top weapons, before Safety Nick Fisher broke across the middle and intercepted the pass. "Everybody was worried about the secondary," Safety Afolabi Laguda told CUBuffs.com following the game. "I feel like we made our little statement today. Nick's play was one of those game-changing moments.” Expect Laguda, Fisher, Isaiah Oliver, Anthony Julmisse and newcomer Dante Wigley to fill the void left by Awuzie, Witherspoon and Thompson.
2. Montez is a gunslinger, but will he improve upon his decision making?
Steven Montez might just have one of the strongest arms in the Pac-12. Need proof? On his fifth series Saturday, the sophomore from El Paso, Texas reared back and fired a bullet to Shay Fields for a 22-yard touchdown.
Steven Montez can thread the needle— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 18, 2017
Watch Spring Showcase: https://t.co/YfMNDWtSGW https://t.co/cGiVrqLKFS
The Pac-12 Network’s Yogi Roth called it a “graduate level throw.” Listening to the attached video you can clearly hear the loud “pop” the ball made as it connected with Fields’ hands. We saw the strength of Montez’s arm last season in the three starts he made filling in for an injured Sefo Liufau. But sometimes having a strong arm can lead to poor decisions, especially against better defenses. In limited action against Michigan, Washington and Oklahoma State, he was 9-of-28 with an interception. Montez IS more talented than Liufau. He’s got a great work ethic. And he has moxie. “I feel like quarterback is one of those rare positions in football where you have to think you are the best, baddest dude on the field at all times. That’s how I look at the game and that’s how I play the game,” Montez told the Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla. Despite those all those positive traits, he’ll need to improve upon his decision making in 2017 if the Buffs hope to make it back to the Pac-12 title game.
3. WR Kabion Ento is your Spring Season Most Valuable Buff
The ‘Blackout Boyz’ are back. With their Top 5 receivers (Fields, Ross, Bryce Bobo, Jay MacIntyre and Kabion Ento) all returning, the Buffs will have one of the most talented receiving corps in the nation this fall. It goes without saying that this position battle during the Spring was fierce. One player separated himself. That player was Kabion Ento.
"His progression from last year to this year has been immense," co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini said of Ento last week. “He's making big-time plays. He's pushing the group and he's pushing the guys that are in front of him. He's etching out a really good niche for himself in this offense and the things we want to do with him."
Here's a look at that @SamNoyer to @KabionEnto TD pass. Graham PAT is good. First score of the day. #NewEra #GoBuffs https://t.co/etgKbkOc2f— Colorado Football (@RunRalphieRun) March 18, 2017
The Senior from Pine Bluff, Arkansas played in all 14 games last season finishing with 8 catches for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns, but was often the fifth or sixth option at wide receiver. “Coach 'Chev' (Darrin Chiaverini) told me after last season, 'It seems like some days you are not as focused as others,'” he told BuffStampede’s Adam Munsterteiger. “I took that to heart and came out here this spring making sure I am always focused. I work hard every rep. I have just stayed consistent.” Ento’s focus payed off this Spring as he was awarded the Fred Casotti Award, which goes to the most improved offensive back. If he can remain focused, I wouldn’t be surprised to see number 17 supplant one of the talented receivers in front of him this fall.