The Buffaloes – an introduction
Colorado Buffaloes play in the Pac12 South, representing the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Football team is affectionately known as the “Buffs”.
The Buffs most intense rivalry is with the Nebraska Cornhuskers and is amongst one of the most intense rivalries in the College game. The Buffs schedule this year sees them playing two rivalry games, versus Colorado State and Nebraska in their first two games of the regular season.
At the end of last season, Colorado parted ways with long term head coach Mike McIntyre after 6 seasons. McIntyre was replaced by ex Alabama and Georgia Coach, Mel Tucker. Tucker was previously Defensive Backs coach at Alabama and Defensive Co-ordination at Georgia. Tucker was also interim head coach at the Jacksonville Jaguars for five games in 2011, following the departure of Jack Del Rio.
The College Chaps recently got to spend some time with Colorado Football stars, Steven Montez and Nate Landman.
What has Coach Tucker brought to this team and the environment that will make you a better team this year?
Steven Montez – Senior, Quarterback : He has brought a relentless attitude. He’s a competitor, one of the most intense competitors that I’ve been around as a coach. He just wants to win, wants to win as bad as we do and he’s going to help us get there.
Nate Landman Junior – Linebacker : He’s brought a winning mindset. It’s always hard having a new coach. At our first team meeting with him he instilled that Championship mindset in us. And I think that is the biggest thing that he brings to the table. He wants to win games and he wants to win games now. That trickles down from him and the coaching staff to the weight staff and the training staff to us. And I think its the Championship mindset that he has instilled in this team.
You have had 3 coaches in 3 years. How difficult is it to maintain consistency year to year in that situation?
Montez: I think there’s two different ways to think about that. You can either feel sorry for yourself and kind of ask why the change keeps coming and why coaches keep shifting. Or you can take it as a new learning experience. And that everyone who comes through those doors will try to make you better. Which is how I have come to take it. I just try to get better with each coach. Because every coach that has come in has brought something different to the table. Each coach has a different style and I think they have all gotten me significantly better.
Preparation for the season ahead……
Are you doing anything differently in your preparation for this year?
Montez: I’m watching more film but I think that comes with more maturity. I’ve been doing pretty much the same things, working out wise. Just grinding, lifting weights, running and all those things. And then in the off season its just me and the receivers going off and running a bunch of routes. Just trying to get our chemistry right for the season.
Landman: I’ve really been working on my secondary skills. Last year I didn’t play much on third down and I think through Spring and just now through camp my secondary skills have improved greatly. I’m now focusing on being a leader and being there for my team anyway I can.
Nate, I read somewhere that you played running back when you were younger – does that help when you are defending against the run game?
Landman: Yes, I played running back and a little bit of centre in high school so I understand basic blocking concepts which kind of helps. I keep that tool in the back of my mind as it allows me to be more instinctual when I am diagnosing a run.
Life in the PAC 12…….
Steven, you are one of the PAC 12’s most experienced QB’s, how does that help with your preparations for the year ahead?
Montez: Just knowing that I’ve been there is huge. Knowing that I’ve played a lot of football and I’ve played a lot of games. I’ve seen a lot of things and I’ve learned from a lot of mistakes that I’ve made, I think will just make me a better quarterback and will help my decision making.
Nate, You grew up watching PAC 12 – what has been your favourite experience playing in the conference so far?
Landman: Being from California I love Pac 12 football. I love the tradition and the culture around it. Being in the PAC 12 I think my greatest moment so far has been in the game against Nebraska. To see our team battle the whole game with the game going back and forth and then to see us come out on top. It’s special and something I will never forget.
This seasons schedule is tough…….
The schedule is tough and you start with two rivalry games which must be pretty unique in college football. Do you prepare differently for these games?
Landman : No. We take every game the same and we take one game at a time. At the back of your mind you know its a rivalry game. I don’t think it should bring any added pressure and I think this team will take each game with the same mindset and in each week prepare in the same way for every game.
Which games are you looking forward to this year?
Montez: I mean to be honest I’m not looking ahead to the schedule. I’m excited to play game number one against Colorado State. I think as of right now that’s the most important game on our schedule and I’m very excited to play the Rams come August 30th.
Landman: I’m looking forward to CSU (Colorado State University), it’s the first game. I love playing against CSU, we play them at Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos and it is a rivalry game. We haven’t played football in a long while and getting that first game underway is exciting for me.
That Rivalry game with Nebraska……
Landman: When you play Nebraska you walk out and your face mask is shaking from the noise of 90,000+ people all wearing red. All you see in a small corner is a little section of black and gold. You know that is always intimidating to play in and thats why its my favourite and least favourite place to play just because of the support they have and that whole stadium is red. But then again when you are winning the game and making plays, the whole stadium of 90,000+ people goes quiet and you just see our little section of black and gold go crazy.
Life beyond College……
Steven, You attended the Manning Quarterback camp this summer – what was that like and what did you benefit most from?
I think just being around great Quarterback’s like Peyton, Eli and Archie – just being around them and listening to what they say. I tried to be a sponge and absorb as much as I could from them. It will make you a better quarterback just by doing that. And then going and completing against 40 other starting quarterbacks from across the nation was obviously a good deal as a well, There was a lot of competitive stuff but also some good times as well when we kind of calmed it down and just had fun with Peyton and Eli.
This is your last year in college – have you done or are you doing anything differently in your preparation for this year and beyond?
Montez: I’ve been doing a little extra footwork just to try to train my feet to stay in the pocket and not want to escape so quickly when the pressure is not actually on me and I’m just feeling the colours flash in front of me
And you were nominated for the Maxwell Award list. What do you think about these pre season watch lists? Do they mean much to you?
Montez: No, to be honest, I couldn’t care less. The things that are important to me right now are my team mates and winning football games. Those are the two most important things. The lists in my opinion, at the end of the day are all just chatter. I think if you win a lot of football games then you’ll find yourself a lot happier than if you lose a lot of football games and win some award..
The future is…..breakfast with the Pac12?
9am games are being discussed in the PAC 12 – what are your thoughts on early kick off games?
Landman: You know I’ve always enjoyed playing at night and 9am kick off is really early for a game. But we train and practice early in the morning so I don’t think it will be too much of a transition for the team to be able to get going so early in the morning. But you know our team will be ready whether we play at 6am in the morning or 10pm at night just by the way we practice and train. They do a great job preparing us to play at any time.
With thanks to Steven Montez and Nate Landman for giving up their time to talk with @NinetyNineYards and @CollegeChaps. Special thanks to Colorado Buffaloes Communications team for assisting with and providing access.
Photo credits: Title – Ron Chenoy, USA Today Sports