July 3, 2014

Dunk: Collaros cool as a cucumber under centre


Often times a young professional quarterback can be easily frustrated when things aren’t going their way. But not Zach Collaros he is as even-keeled as pivots come. A trait instilled in him since High School.

Mike Haney was Collaros’ quarterback coach at Steubenville High School in Ohio and he always preached the importance of keeping emotions under control on the field. In fact since Collaros graduated from High School, to this day, Haney sends a text before each game to Collaros and it reads:

“Be calm, cool and collected.”

A small and subtle reminder each time he steps between the white lines.

Collaros’ calm presence was on full display in the Ticats Week 1 loss to Saskatchewan. From the first snap to the final whistle Collaros was under constant pressure.

The Riders sacked Hamilton’s quarterback 10 times and never once did he let any negative emotions show. He didn’t ever yell, berate a teammate, throw his helmet or sulk on the sidelines. And then in the post-game scrum Collaros shouldered all of the responsibility for the Ticats poor offensive performance.

“Zach is probably wired too much the other way and takes too much responsibility on himself, too much blame,” head coach Kent Austin said. “He’s a very humble guy, very, very unselfish and is very endearing to his teammates as a result.”

“Zach’s demeanor is outstanding: he’s highly competitive, he stays focused and doesn’t get too emotional. He was in a tough environment and he battled. They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and they got a lot of pressure on Zach and knocked him around a bit, but he hung in there. I thought he handled it extremely well.”

At times when Collaros came off the field against Saskatchewan you couldn’t help but notice Austin animatedly talking with his 25-year-old protégé.

“Just different things – he’s obviously a guy who’s played quarterback – so if you’re not playing the position to the best of your ability there are some things that he will get frustrated with, just like anybody else,” Collaros said about his communication with Austin on the bench.

Hamilton’s head coach has an intimate knowledge of what exactly a quarterback goes through during a game having played 10 years in the CFL at a high level himself. Austin believes his experience helps him better coach the position.

“I try not to bring myself into the picture too much, I’m an old guy,” Austin said with a laugh. “I can relate to the player in a number of different ways because they know that I’ve been in that environment.”

“Zach is very, very mature for his age. He’s going to get a lot better in this offence as time goes on. He understands the value of staying disciplined to his preparation and staying disciplined to the process of constant improvement. As much as I can relate without in anyway coming across that I’m trying to talk about myself, but it’s to help him.”

Collaros completely understands how fortunate he is to have Austin as his coach and

said both have agreed that he needs to clean up his footwork, improve on read progressions and utilize better eye placement going forward.

For Hamilton as an offensive group it’s all about putting first downs together early. Austin saw his offence run a total of eight plays in the first quarter of the season opener. So expect Collaros and the Ticats to focus on sustaining drives and finding a rhythm in Edmonton.