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A presser about Pike (mostly)

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Naturally, the topic of the day at the weekly presser was the health of Tony Pike and what would happen if he can't play Saturday vs. Louisville. The big news was that Pike underwent a procedure this morning on his left arm to repair the plate that was inserted last season and was damaged again last Thursday in the third quarter of the South Florida game.

 

Pike won't practice today or Wednesday, and from there, his status for the Louisville game on Saturday is unclear.

 

"We have to get the swelling out of there first," Brian Kelly said. "It's something we have to manage day to day.

 

"It's going to depend on the next 48 hours. He cannot go out there if he can't protect himself. We can't put him in a position if he doesn't feel comfortable. The last time it took two weeks for us to feel like he was ready to go. We're hoping that process is accelerated. That's why we're not going to rule him out."

 

Before this week, Collaros was taking about 40 percent of the first-teams snaps in practice (compared to Pike's 60 percent), and considering he played pretty well when called into the USF game, you'd think he might be a frontrunner to start against the Cardinals - assuming Pike won't play.

 

But you also can't forget that Chazz Anderson played well enough to beat Marshall and Rutgers last year when Pike went out with his initial arm injury. Last season, Anderson was ahead of Collaros in terms of knowledge of the offense, but now, Kelly said they're equal in that category.

 

So, when the team practices today, Anderson and Collaros will split the snaps 50-50 to see who would replace Pike if need be. Do you go with the player who was the No. 2 quarterback going into the USF game and who played well in Pike's absence (Collaros), or do you go with the guy who went 2-0 as a starter last season (Anderson)?

 

"By going 50-50, I'm trying not to be prejudiced one way or the other," Kelly said. "I want to give them both the chance. Here's what I know: both guys can win Big East games, because they have. That's a good problem to have if Tony can't play."

 

Though I don't think Pike will play much - if at all - on Saturday, the fact he's been through this injury before could help him mend quicker (at least in his mind).

 

"Just going through it, mentally, he's so much better," Kelly said. "I talked to him this morning, and he's a lot better. That first time getting injured, it works on you a little bit. He's been through it, he knows the procedure, he knows how to do the rehab. This is not my decision to play Tony Pike. This will be our medical people making the final decision. If the swelling is out and the pain is manageable and if he can protect himself, that's the key."

 

Either way, wide receiver Armon Binns is not overly concerned with which quarterback is throwing him the ball.

 

"We're definitely comfortable with whoever is in there," Binns said. "They leave the offense pretty wide open, no matter who's in there. Obviously it's most helpful with Tony. But I've got confidence in all the guys to make all the plays and all the throws."

 

Kelly said Pike has to focus on passing his Spanish class, so if we have questions to ask, we'll have to do it in Espanol. He looked at Denny Janson when he said that, and naturally, DJ responded with a, "Si."

 

--The Bearcats spent part of today signing a banner they'll send to Connecticut in memory of cornerback Jasper Howard, who was fatally stabbed late Saturday night. The banner - seen exclusively on cnati.com (I don't know why I can't get this link to work, but here it is: http://cnati.com/blogs/ctrent/2009/10/uc-honors-uconn-player.php) - has the words, "Teammates for life" inscribed on it with a picture of Howard in the middle of a C-Paw that's colored blue.

 

"We'll send that in tribute to Jasper and his memory," Kelly said. "All Big East members and all student athletes are in this football family. We wanted them to know that he's in our thoughts."

 

Kelly can relate. When he was at Grand Valley State earlier this decade, one of his players fell asleep while driving a car and died in the crash.

 

"It's a tough time," Kelly said. "You're in preparation but you're at a funeral. I know what Randy (Edsall, UConn's coach) is going through. It's difficult to stay focused, because football is still just a game. I'm certain they'll pull together and they'll use the game Saturday to honor one of their teammates."

 

--Although it might still seem like the Bearcats, ranked fifth in the country and in the BCS standings, are living in a fantasy world, Binns is trying to keep himself from looking too far ahead.

 

"It's nice, but it doesn't mean anything if we lose next week," Binns said. "You have to stay focused and win every game. We have to stay grounded. You can't get caught up in your press clippings."

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