The Bearcats -- and Collaros -- Remain Perfect

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According to a wide variety of published reports and media guides, Zach Collaros compiled a 41-1 record as a starting quarterback at Steubenville High School.


It's an astonishing stat . . . until you learn that the truth is even more impressive.


"That's actually false," Collaros told me after Saturday's win at Syracuse.  "I didn't start at quarterback my sophomore year - I played receiver and cornerback - so I was actually 30-0 as a starting quarterback in high school."


That makes him 32-0 in his lifetime after leading the Bearcats to wins over Louisville and Syracuse.


Collaros posted an NFL quarterback rating of 150.1 against the Orange as he went 22-for-28 for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions.


"Not a bad day," Coach Kelly said with a grin.  "I thought he did a very good job of finding the right guys and delivering the ball.  It was the first time he saw a 3-4 defense with a lot of moving parts and I was really, really proud of the way he played."


"We all knew going into the South Florida game that if something happened to Tony Pike - God forbid - that Zach was a guy that could come in and make things happen," offensive lineman Jason Kelce said.  "We're disappointed that Tony is hurt but we're also excited that Zach is getting the opportunity to go out there and make plays."


In two starts, Collaros has completed 82% of his passes for 7 touchdowns and 0 INT.  UC fans have quickly become excited over the prospect of Collaros being the Bearcats starting quarterback for the next two years.


"I hope they're excited to see me in the future," Collaros told me.  "This is great experience for me for next year.  It's great getting the reps because there's nothing like game experience and getting the other 10 guys on the field to trust you."


"The weird thing is, I think Zach gets better when the lights go on," Kelce said.  "Most guys tense up, but Zach is like, 'Alright, now it's time to go!'  He's always been one of those guys that everyone on the team considers a gamer and a very competitive guy."


Zach's performance against Syracuse was especially impressive when you consider that the Bearcats were missing starting right tackle Sam Griffin due to the flu.  Alex Hoffman moved from guard to tackle and C.J. Cobb stepped into the starting lineup at right guard.


"C.J. Cobb really stepped up and Alex Hoffman did a great job moving over to tackle," Collaros said.  "The line did a great job.  The only times I got sacked were when we were covered down field and I tried to make something happen.  I probably could have thrown it away but I think they'll forgive me for giving up a couple of sacks."


"The loss of Sam Griffin and having to shuffle our offensive line caused a bit of a problem," Coach Kelly said.  "I thought Zach showed great poise and escapability and did a really nice job."


Perhaps the biggest play Collaros made came in the second quarter as the holder on a field goal attempt when he failed to catch Mike Windt's snap.


"It was a little low but it was a good snap," Zach said.  "I mishandled it so we yelled, 'Fire . . . fire drill.'  We work on it in practice and I saw Kazeem Alli out of the corner of my eye and just threw it up and he made a play."


"It was great poise on his part to maintain the line of scrimmage and we had nobody downfield," Coach Kelly said.  "I think the Syracuse crowd was absolutely stunned that we didn't have anybody downfield but they were clearly just eligible receivers that ran the fire drill pretty good and Zach made a great play in throwing the football."


It's the stuff Collaros has been doing to win his last 32 starts at quarterback - make that all 32 of his starts at quarterback.  But right now, the perfect record that he's excited about belongs to the 8-0 Bearcats.


"I do feel great about it and the team feels great," Zach said.  "I'm just trying to let Tony pick up where he left off." 


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