CU Buffs quarterback battle far from over – The Denver Post

Colorado’s quarterback battle was never going to be settled during spring football practice.

With incumbent starter Sam Noyer out for the spring following offseason shoulder surgery, the competition will be settled in the fall.

What became clear during spring, however, is that it will be a three-man battle when the Buffs return to the practice field in August. Expected to be healthy this summer, Noyer will join returning freshman Brendon Lewis and sophomore JT Shrout, a transfer from Tennessee, in fighting for the job.

“It’s a great problem to have,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said Friday after the Buffs completed spring practices with a scrimmage at Folsom Field. “I’d rather have three or four guys that are really close in level of play, really battling it out because I know that’s going to extend them to be as good as they can be in terms of their performance under that type of pressure.”

After starting all six games and earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors from league coaches last season, Noyer will have every opportunity to keep his starting job.

“Arm feels good, body feels good and I’m just itching to get back out there,” Noyer said this week. “As a competitor, it’s never easy watching guys compete for a job when you don’t really have the opportunity to. I’m just itching to get back out there and I’ll be full-go here pretty soon and get to start throwing with the guys. Then we’ll go from there and kind of go into fall camp.”

A first-year starter in 2020 after competing with Tyler Lytle – who transferred to Massachusetts in January – Noyer enters his sixth season at CU with perhaps a more difficult battle in front of him.

Lewis and Shrout, who arrived in January as a transfer, competed over the past month, splitting reps with the first-team offense, and both played well in the spring showcase on Friday. True freshman Drew Carter may not be ready to start this year, but CU likes his talent, as well.

“We feel like that stable has changed drastically from what it was when I first got here last year,” Dorrell said. “Now, you can see how good B-Lew was playing. B-Lew looks more comfortable in the pocket. He’s making some really good, positive plays. You can tell that his growth is really on the upswing.

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“JT Shrout, for a guy that just got here in January, I think he’s in the thick of it, as well. He’s kind of caught up learning the system and trying to do all those things in three or four months.”

More of a pocket passer than Lewis or Noyer, Shrout has a big arm and some experience. He played in eight games, with one start, at Tennessee. Shrout completed 9-of-13 passes, including a touchdown, in the spring showcase.

“I’ve been really impressed with JT,” offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said during a CU-produced virtual event this week. “He’s got natural leadership skills when I listen to him in the huddle. He throws a really good football, has a good presence of just seeing the field and knowing where to go with the ball. … I think he’s got a chance to really compete for that position.”

Lewis made his collegiate debut at the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 against Texas. Coming off the bench in place of Noyer, Lewis led the Buffs to all three of their touchdowns in the 55-23 loss.

“Honestly, that game greatly propelled me,” said Lewis, who completed 8-of-9 passes on Friday. “I use that game as a foundation for me to really continue to progress my college career, and that game really gave me the confidence I needed to come out here and perform to my best ability.”

A dual-threat, Lewis said his comfort with the playbook has improved dramatically since the fall.

“I feel like that gives me the ability to stay in the pocket longer and find my reads downfield, not just having to get out early (and run) as soon as I don’t have my first read,” Lewis said.

With a healthy Noyer aiming to take his game to a new level in the fall, a confident Lewis and Shrout energized by a new opportunity, CU’s quarterback competition is far from over.

“It’s gonna be a great competition,” Dorrell said. “Sam knows it. He’s trying to get himself back and in a healthy fashion so he can start working this summer. But that’s a good problem to have. I’d rather have that scenario than to say that I’ve got to pick one of two guys and really that’s all that we had. So, it’s a good problem to have.”

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