Dear Mr. Football: What’s this stuff about Colorado quarterback Steven Montez and diapers?
A: After Montez was born in 1997, his father, Alfred, who had briefly been a quarterback on the Oakland Raiders roster, moved to Silver City, New Mexico, where he had been a college standout at Western New Mexico.
Among Montez’s closest friends was (and remains) Sam Portillo, then the Silver City High School wrestling coach and former Sunnyside High School all-state wrestler, and Portillo’s wife, Marcie Aguilar, one of the key players on Arizona’s 1991 NCAA softball championship team.
“We were Steven’s babysitters for about a year,” said Portillo, now an assistant coach at Salpointe Catholic. “That’s when I learned to change diapers.”
Steven Montez has grown up; he is now 6 feet 5 inches and 225 pounds, the most physically imposing QB in the Pac-12. Attention UA recruiters: his younger brother, Raymond, is a junior QB at El Paso’s Del Valle High, coached by his father. Through last weekend, he had completed 71 percent of his passes, following in Steven’s footsteps.
Dear Mr. Football: How rare is it for Arizona to play in a sold-out Pac-12 road game?
A: Except for trips to Utah and Oregon, which routinely sell out, Arizona’s visit to Washington State last year was its only Pac-12 sell out since 2013 at ASU.
Through Thursday, the Buffaloes had sold about 49,000 tickets at Folsom Field (capacity 50,183) and that is Big News. Colorado has sold out just one home game since 2008: the Pac-12 South-clinching victory over Utah a year ago.
This is what happens when you come off a division title season. In 2015, Arizona followed its Pac-12 south championship with 51,111 against UTSA, 51,494 against NAU and a sellout of 56,004 in the league home-opener against UCLA.
Tickets are not cheap at Folsom Field. Of the few remaining tickets Friday morning, the cheapest was $65 according to the CU ticket web site.
Dear Mr. Football: Since freshmen became eligible in 1973, who is the best-ever true freshman to play at Arizona? Could it be Tony Fields?
A: Tough call: tailback Vance Johnson rushed for 654 yards, caught 224 yards of passes and was the UA’s top kickoff/punt returner in 1981, and receiver Mike Thomas caught 55 passes for 771 yards in 2005.
No true freshman has ever led Arizona in tackles, although in 1991 redshirt freshman Tony Bouie led Arizona with 86 tackles.
That’s what makes Arizona’s defensive statistics so compelling: Fields, a true freshmen linebacker, leads Arizona with 23 tackles, followed closely by redshirt freshman cornerback Lorenzo Burns at 21 and true freshman safety Scottie Young at 20.
It’s probably not a good thing to have three freshmen leading your team in tackles, not in Pac-12 football. But it’s a wonderful statistic.
Dear Mr. Football: How inexact is college football recruiting?
A: Salpointe Catholic had seven college prospects on its undefeated 2013 state championship team, none better than receiver Cam Denson, who this week ended his UA football career because of injuries.
Denson, a four-star prospect, caught passes for 2,995 yards, rushed for 1,453 yards at Salpointe and was a killer return man and part-time QB starter. His UA career: 11 starts, two touchdowns, two interceptions.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Denson of 2013 was one of the 10 leading Tucson football prospects of the last 25 years. In retrospect, the ’13 Lancers were built more for high school than college.
Kaelin Deboskie, who began his career at Arizona, is now a kick returner at Pima College. Offensive lineman Breeon Auzenne, who had been offered a scholarship by Washington and signed with UTEP, instead played briefly at Scottsdale Community College.
Justin Holt, who also began his career at Arizona, is now a reserve defensive lineman at Eastern Arizona College, with eight tackles. Linebacker Jacob Ksiazek has not yet played at Air Force.
The most productive of the Salpointe Seven: NAU linebackers Taylor Powell and Jake Casteel, who have combined for 34 tackles for the Lumberjacks this season.
Dear Mr. Football: Do night games get more eyeballs on television?
The highest-rated Pac-12 game this year, drawing 3.2 million viewers, was USC at Cal, a game that kicked off at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. That night, Washington and Colorado drew 1.1 million on Fox Sports 1 at 7 p.m. A day earlier, Arizona and Utah drew 581,000 viewers on Fox Sports 1 for a 7:30 p.m. kick.
A week ago, a late Colorado and UCLA game drew 1.1 million on ESPN2. That wasn’t close to Friday night’s USC-Washington State game that had 2.8 million ESPN viewers, according to sportsmediawatch.com.
The one obvious theme: USC sells, day or night.
Dear Mr. Football: How did Colorado leapfrog Arizona in the Pac-12 South so suddenly?
A: From 2011-15, Colorado lost 48 games. Arizona lost 28. The Buffaloes were the one game on the schedule you’d point to and say “that’s a win.”
The 2013 recruiting class, RichRod’s second at Arizona, began Arizona’s demise and triggered CU’s rise.
Now Buffaloes fans point to the schedule, put a finger next to “Arizona” and say “that’s a win.”
Just three members of the Class of 2013 remain on Arizona’s “two-deep”: guard Jacob Alsadek, who has started 37 games; oft-injured linebacker DeAndre Miller and sometimes-starter Luca Bruno, a defensive lineman with one career sack.
You could make a case that the pillars of Colorado’s turnaround, its seven best players, are the remaining fifth-year seniors from the Class of 2013, especially tailback Phillip Lindsay, receivers Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo and safety Afolabi Laguda.
All of the elements suggest Colorado wins decisively: a probable sellout crowd, an emerging star at quarterback, difference-makers at running back and receiver, and a defensive starting group that includes 11 juniors and seniors.
“We can’t lose any more,” said Buffaloes senior defensive back Evan Worthington, suggesting this is an old-fashioned “must-win game” for Colorado.
Colorado is determined. Arizona is desperate. Those elements could make it tight.
Buffaloes 37, Wildcats 31