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The wait for Pike continues

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Another weekly news conference, another spate of questions for Brian Kelly regarding the health of quarterback Tony Pike and whether he can play this week. The answer, right off the bat, was this:

 

Pike saw the doctor today, and according to Kelly, they were "seeing some good things in terms of the X-rays." The training staff will fit him with a specially-made brace - probably tonight - and Pike should participate fully in practice Wednesday.

 

"You can't go with the cast he has on now," Kelly said. "This brace will allow him the protection and the ability to move and be fully engaged in practice. We have good signs relative to the bones and healing. We'll put him in this splint, and let's go and see where he is and figure out where he is come Saturday."

 

There's a small chance that, depending on the circumstances, Pike could come off the bench to replace Zach Collaros, but Kelly would prefer not to do that. If Pike can play, he'd rather just start him.

 

With that, the talk turned to Collaros, who has performed brilliantly in the absence of Pike. Since taking over midway through the South Florida game, Collaros has completed 78.8 percent of his passes for 620 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 206 yards and two more scores.

 

So far, he's made it look so easy.

 

"I wouldn't say it's easier," Collaros said. "Practice is definitely a lot more difficult against our (first team), because we go against them all the time and they know what we do."

 

Practicing as the starter, though, has been different for him. He says he's more focused and he watches more film. Once he takes those repetitions in practice and then sees it later on the film, he prepares with a different mindset. Plus, he's a little more comfortable on the field now that he's been out there for 10-straight quarters.

 

"The South Florida game, I was kind of nervous getting in there, and Louisville was big because it was my first start," he said. "But I've settled down. The better you play, the more confident you're going to be. And the more confident you are, the better you're going to play."

 

But like Kelly said today, there's much more improvement Collaros has to make.

 

"The list is long," Kelly said. "It's really, really long. We're not even at that level where I can have the same conversation I have with Tony Pike that I have with Zach Collaros about the quarterback position. With Tony, we're talking about eye control on the safety, moving the safety with your eyes. We're talking about some specifics within a movement key. I can't get that with Zach yet. We're still in big-picture issues. We're still a long way in his development."

 

Eventually - be it this weekend or not - Pike will return, and Collaros will slide to the No. 2 spot. Still, he realizes he can't beat the experience he's received since taking over the top spot.

 

"Tony is one of my good friends on the team, and as long as we're winning, that's all that matters," Collaros said. "I think I've proved myself these last couple weeks. I definitely gained some valuable game experience. That's second to none."

 

--Running back John Goebel's string of bad luck continues. He broke his hand during last Saturday's Syracuse game, and though he only has six carries this season for 10 yards, it looks like he won't be running the ball any time soon.

 

It's the same hand he broke last season, and he'll be in a cast for Saturday's game. But Kelly said he would play on special teams.

 

And while we're discussing injuries, let's talk about tight end Ben Guidugli, who suffered a concussion vs. the Orange. Kelly said he's been cleared to take the exertion test today that will decide whether he can be cleared to practice.

 

Clearly, Guidugli - who wanted to get back in the game immediately on Saturday - would like to be out there.

 

"It was a scavenger hunt for his helmet," Kelly said. "They had to hide it six different times, because he was looking through everything."

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