Growing pains hit Steven Montez hard in Colorado Buffaloes’ loss to Washington

BOULDER – All Myles Bryant had to do was watch Steven Montez’s eyes.

The University of Colorado faced third-and-4 from its own 30-yard line. Montez stood in the shotgun with a five-wide receiver set – three to the far side, two to the near. He’d been pressured often Saturday night by the Washington defense, sacked twice to that point and continuously flushed from the pocket. But after showing blitz with two linebackers, the Huskies rushed only three on the play.

Montez took the snap and within 1.8 seconds, the ball was out of his hands. The problem? Out of five available targets, Montez, a redshirt sophomore, never glanced off wide receiver Bryce Bobo, paying no attention to Bryant, Washington’s defensive back, who sat in his zone, jumped the route and returned the interception 35 yards for a touchdown. The play put the seventh-ranked Huskies up 24-10 with 2 minutes, 3 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and effectively out of reach.

It was that kind of night for Montez. He has the physical tools to be an elite Pac-12 quarterback, but showed he still has a way to go before he gets there.

“I saw the corner, he was pressed, and then bailed. We had an under-call, which is like a five-yard in-route, so I was thinking, ‘the corner bailed, we should have it,’” Montez, who has seven career starts, said of his final interception of the night. “When I released the ball, I saw what I want to say was the nickel buzz right under it … bad decision.”

He whispered again: “Extremely bad decision.”

Montez completed 21 of 27 passes for 171 yards and a trio of interceptions in the Buffs’ 37-10 loss to Washington at Folsom Field. He was sacked four times. Two of his pass attempts were dropped, another went off the fingertips of running back Phillip Lindsay, landing in the lap of Washington’s Jordan Miller – his first of two picks Saturday.

It’s hard to win when you throw three interceptions in a game, Montez said, adding the light rain and cold temperatures didn’t affect his play. But his mental lapses weren’t limited to his throws. He also misjudged a down-and-distance situation in the second quarter, costing the Buffs a first down — and worse.