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Buffs QB Lytle Vows To Be Ready To Play When Time Comes

Aug 20, 2020

BOULDER — One of the more anticipated position battles in years for the Colorado Buffaloes has been put on hold.

Buffs fans will have to wait.

Under normal circumstances, CU would be midway through fall camp at this point on the calendar and the contest for the starting quarterback spot would be at its zenith. Speculation among fans about who was leading — veteran Tyler Lytle, veteran Sam Noyer or true freshman Brendon Lewis — would be hot and heavy and the topic would no doubt be a daily question for head coach Karl Dorrell and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf.

But with the season now delayed until at least Jan. 1 — and any camp preparation to be adjusted accordingly — CU's quarterbacks will return to what they have been doing for most of the summer.

That would be strength and conditioning, meetings, and a few more allowed hours per week of work on the field. The NCAA this week passed legislation that will allow teams not scheduled to play this fall to have 12 hours of workout time per week, including five hours of on-field work.

That schedule will begin Monday and stay in place at least until Oct. 4, when a possible change will be revisited. 

It means a long, tedious fall of more preparation, a task that will be made even more difficult if three of the Power Five conferences who still plan on playing are actually on the field on Saturdays.

"This is going to be my first fall without football since I was 6 years old," Lytle said in a conference call with reporters Thursday. "It is tough. I've had to wait my turn to be able to compete. (But) I'm still here and I'm going to be here next year. Just have to be patient and see what they decide what football's going to look like over the next year, whether it's in winter, spring, fall. I just have to keep being patient. That's all I can do at this point."

For Lytle, "patience" has proven to be a huge test in the bizarre circumstances presented in 2020.

The junior has bided his time at CU, waiting for an opportunity to battle for the starting spot. He spent one year as a redshirt freshman in 2017, then two more seasons battling for the backup job behind Steven Montez.

This was going to be his year to break out.

But just when he was ready to finally showcase his skills for his new head coach and new quarterback coach in spring ball, the Covid-19 pandemic shut down college sports. That left Lytle and his teammates relegated to a spring of Zoom meetings with their coaching staff and working out on their own.

The Buffs were finally allowed to return to campus in mid-June to begin voluntary workouts, then actual team walkthroughs in early August. After the Pac-12 announced a conference-only schedule, the Buffs had an Aug. 17 start date for fall camp on their calendar.

But the Pac-12 sent a seismic shift through the college football world last week by joining with the Big Ten and postponing the fall season.

Thus, Lytle and his fellow Buffs have yet to put on pads and have a bona fide practice under Dorrell's guidance. The only thing they can do is continue working and hope for some kind of season in the spring.

"As hard as it is, it has to be business as usual," Lytle said. "Back to workouts, back to throwing on the weekends and during our free time. Everything we were doing this offseason to get better, you have to keep on chugging."

But understand that while Lytle has been biding his time, he hasn't been sitting on the sidelines the last three years. He has dedicated himself to getting bigger, stronger and faster, and has succeeded in all three areas. Now listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, he has added some impressive muscle and made significant strides in the speed department — so much so that he has been among the leaders on CU's summer workout boards.

"Through these past three years, size and strength was kind of a big thing for me," he said. "I'm at a good weight right now. I've gotten a lot faster and I'm continuing to improve my body, improve my mental aspects of the game. But you never really stop improving all those areas. You just keep working at it."

Lytle — admittedly "one of the slower guys" when he arrived as a gangly freshman — credits strength and conditioning coordinator Drew Wilson and his team with his dramatic improvement in the size and speed departments.

"I've been working with them pretty hard and speed has been a big focus since I've been here," he said. "It's just kind of that process. Keep  chipping away, keep getting better, keep getting stronger, keep getting faster. My speed is one of my areas that's grown the most the last couple of years, especially this offseason. I want to become as well-rounded as a player and quarterback as I can possibly be."

Lytle has always been a student of the game, and one thing that's never been in question is his arm strength. He delivers a nice deep ball, has good velocity on his mid-range game and excellent accuracy in the short game.

But he hasn't had much chance to use those skills in games thus far. Over the last two seasons, he appeared in just seven games and has thrown just six passes with four completions.

Now, he's simply anxious to get the chance to show his new coaches his skills and get the competition with Noyer and Lewis rolling. That means staying focused and not losing sight of the end goal.

"Without a season, it can get tedious," he said. "You just have to have that goal at the end of the day. We're still working toward something. It's not gone, it's just away for a little a while. As soon as it comes back I want to be as ready as possible."