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SPRING FOOTBALL FINALE

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After Saturday's final practice (April 23) I caught up with with quarterback Zach Collaros and head coach Butch Jones for a spring wrap-up.  In Q&A form, here's the spring ball sign-off:

Collaros.jpg
How does it feel to wrap up spring ball?


BJ:  "Tell you what, these last four practices have been absolutely invaluable. You're able to revisit some of your problem areas that occurred throughout spring and in the spring game in particular. You also identify who some of your key back-ups are coming into practice and special teams are critical. To get all of these live reps today and get it on film and teach on it, again, it's invaluable."

ZC: "It feels kind of weird. It's kind of bittersweet. After all, spring ball starts becoming a drag. I feel like we did a good job pushing through. I wish I had another one (spring) but this is my last one, so I have to make the most of the rest of my time here."

What now from here?
Butch Jones.jpg

BJ: "We hit the ground running for spring recruiting on Tuesday, and obviously we'll be out and about meeting all of our great fans and gaining supporters to come watch us play both at this great venue in Nippert and also at Paul Brown (Stadium).

ZC: "One more (Camp) Higher Ground. When we get to Higher Ground it's going to be critical to get better every day."

Did you like the set-up of the spring, with the early Bearcat Bowl?


BJ: "I love the format. Pretty much, the spring game, a lot has been said about it, but it was pretty much the same as it's been in the past, give or take some of the one-on-one's which our kids love. It lets a coach see when the lights go on how they compete. I really like the format. The only disappointing thing was maybe the weather. Today (Saturday April 23) was a great day and we accomplished a lot."

ZC: "I liked it. The (spring) game is really for the fans. I'm not saying it's a wasted practice, but we're not doing as much. We're not showing as much because it's on TV and we have fans here. I think getting back out here four more times gave us a chance to really hone in before we're off for the summer."

How do you see the back-up quarterback situation shaping up? (Note: in the last spring
practices senior Chazz Anderson lined up as a wide receiver.)

BJ: "Well, we're just experimenting. Chazz is going through that phase in his life right now where he's graduated, he already has his degree. He wants to help the team and he's a competitor. We'll sit down and we'll see how this goes."
(On the other quarterbacks)
"The thing I'm excited about is our quarterbacks have been 'live' this spring. There's so many things when you want them to be able to escape the pocket and make plays and have a pocket presence about them when everything's coming at them and they know they're going to take a hit. The exciting thing too is that it's been a physical spring and the only major injury was Shaq (Washington--freshman wide receiver) and we get him back in about a month. I'm excited about the way we ended spring and we'll move on to the next phase this summer."

ZC: "I think they've all done a great job. Munchie (Legaux) has really done a great job throwing and running. What he really needs to focus on is managing the offense--not just the play calls, just making sure it's running smooth. I think Jordan (Louallen) has done a great job as well. He'll continue to get better in the throwing game. I think he likes running the ball more than I do. I kind of like to scramble and throw. He's more of a downhill runner. The longer you play this position and the more reps you get, it's not bad to punt the ball sometimes. There's times you have to throw the ball away and let your defense play. He'll learn that with time."

(For Butch only) Anyone catch your eye that you didn't expect?

"Some guys on the offensive line. It's going to be a race between Sean Hooey, Andre Cureton and Austen Bujnoch.  The reps that Cameron Beard gained were invaluable because he's got to help us and give us some reps. On defense, our young corners and linebackers are going to have to play this year. In no way, shape or form would they be game ready if they didn't graduate high school early and been here for spring practice."


(For Zach only) Do you miss baseball at all?

Not in this weather (overcast and rainy most of April). When it's sunny outside, I do miss it. I do miss being out there. I just like being active.  With a week off next week, I'm not going to know what to do. I'm going to have to come in and continue to get better in football."


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