August 30, 2013

Counting on Collaros: Argos turn to youngster at QB

Adam Gagnon Staff

TORONTO — The ball is now in the court of Zach Collaros – at least for the near future in Toronto.

The 25-year-old pivot will not only take over the reins for the Argonauts’ upcoming home-and-home with the rival Montreal Alouettes but the month following after the Boatmen confirmed today that the injury sustained by Ricky Ray was a lot more severe than originally anticipated –although Ray will not require surgery and could be down as long as six weeks.

“Ricky has a partial tear (in) a muscle in his shoulder that’s called the Teres major” head coach Scott Milanovich said. “I’ve been informed that’s not part of the rotator cuff.

“He’s going to be out approximately six weeks. It could be a couple of weeks less or a couple of weeks more depending on he responds to his rehab.”

As for Collaros, he has had a pair of middle-of-the-road appearances in relief of ray in two of the last three weeks but does have a stunning start against the BC Lions to build off of.

Back in July, Collaros made his first career start against a Lions defence that was then ranked first overall in almost every category in the CFL.  The Cincinnati product had his way with the Leos, completing 21 of 25 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns en route to a lopsided Toronto win.

It is that performance that gives him the ability to shun pressure and prepare as the starter for the next (possibly) two months.

“Like I said last time, pressure is what you make it”, Collaros said Thursday. “As long as we are prepared as a team and I am prepared, we will all feel comfortable out there. We have a big home and away series with Montreal and that is big for the East and we just got to get after it and be ready.”

Often the major difference for quarterbacks when they are coming off the bench versus starting is their preparation time in the week leading into a contest.  Collaros hopes that practice will lead to a working of the kinks before taking the field Tuesday against Montreal.

“(It’s different) because I know I am going to have to play an extended period of time. The BC game was still up in the air, I wasn’t sure how long I would have to play then, but I think it’s comforting knowing I have to be ready for the next few weeks.”
“I don’t know if I was mentally more locked in, but it is definitely a different feeling going through the week being the guy; just got to be ready to go.”

Along with some meaningful reps under his belt, another factor the sophomore pivot has going for him is the confidence from his head coach.  Although Milanovich won’t ignore the option to go to backups Trevor Harris and Josh Portis down the road if the situation warrants, Collaros, for now, is the guy.

“I told him the same thing I did against BC, it’s your game, there is no quick hook, I am not waiting for a mistake to put somebody else in”, Milanovich said. “It’s different than what it is with Ricky.  Ricky is our guy and Zach would not play well for an extended period of time. We would always do what is best for the team.”

Collaros also has a unique skillset that differs in many ways to the precision pocket passer that Ray is.  His ability to scramble and buy time with his legs gives the Argos a few different packages to try and keep opposing defences guessing.  

He enters Tuesday with 35 carries for 137 yards and two majors.
“I think the offence changes significantly, what we do and a lot of the principles are the same”, Milanovich continued. “We may move him around a little bit more, we may ask him to do more quarterback runs a little bit more. His offence is obviously a little bit different than Ricky’s so we will try to take advantage of his strengths.”

The Argos host the Als in the first of back-to-back contests at Rogers Centre Tuesday night.

– With files from