Lobo QB Montes last starts in 2022 – and he’s learned his lesson

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

When CJ Montes first started a game as quarterback for the New Mexico Lobos, things didn’t go well. At all.

The second time was much better but not nearly good enough.

Is the third time the proverbial charm? Montes and the Lobos (2-9, 0-7 Mountain West Conference) expect to find out Friday when they play the Colorado State Rams (2-9, 2-5) in Fort Collins.

The Lobos have lost eight straight games this season and 11 straight against CSU in a streak that began in 1935.

CJ Montes, UNM football quarterback

Montes, a redshirt freshman from Pasadena, Calif., started against San Diego State last Friday after sophomore Justin Holaday suffered a strained knee during practice this week. Montes was 15 of 23 passers for 112 yards and scored UNM’s only touchdown on a 6-yard streak.

But after completing 6 of 8 passes during a two-minute drive that led to a Luke Drzewiecki field goal late in the first half, he and the UNM offense failed to score in the second half. The Aztecs won 34-10.

Even during that two-minute drive, Lobos coach Danny Gonzales said Tuesday Montes was far from perfect.

“We had an opportunity for a touchdown,” Gonzales said, “(but) CJ threw the ball on an out route instead of the corner route.”

After Holaday’s injury during practice Tuesday before the San Diego State Game, Montes essentially had a day and a half to work with the first-team offense.

“This week I got all the reps,” he said, “so I should be ready to go.”

In any case, Montes’ performance against SDSU was a vast improvement over his first start against – who else? – State of Colorado last season.

The previous week, starting quarterback Terry Wilson had sustained a dislocated elbow – which, it turned out, would end his season and short UNM career. Montes, scheduled to start against the Rams, was very confident.

“We should go through these guys schematically,” he said last Tuesday. “…I think we should blow these guys out.”

Instead, it was the lobos that got blown out. Montes was 3-of-19 for 11 yards and was sacked four times in a 36-7 loss.

After the game, the Rams made it clear they were aware of Montes’ comments earlier in the week. “A great learning moment,” Gonzales called it.

Montes played as a backup in one more game and was then suspended for the remainder of the season to preserve one year of eligibility.

This time, Montes does not provide the CSU with any attachment material. Despite this, he said: “I am always confident in my abilities. Trust in my team, trust in my O-line so just go out there and do it.”