Zach Collaros trusts his Toronto Argonauts teammates. But thus far in his CFL career, Collaros has shown them his best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impersonations.
“It’s always easy to learn when you have success,” head coach Scott Milanovich said. “But I think any quarterback will tell you when you make mistakes, it sticks with you for the rest of your career.”
In his first CFL start on July 30, filling in for the injured Ricky Ray against the B.C. Lions, Collaros was spectacular, throwing for 253 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-12 win.
Five weeks later – with Ray out again for an extended period with a shoulder injury – Collaros, and the Argos offence, struggled in a 20-9 home loss to the Montreal Alouettes (4-5). Collaros threw for 256 yards and one touchdown, but also tossed an interception and lost a fumble that was taken back for an Als touchdown.
The 25-year-old will get his third start Sunday in Montreal, where it is expected he will again face rookie counterpart Tanner Marsh.
Montreal is in a similar situation as Toronto (5-4), as future Hall of Fame quarterback Anthony Calvillo isn’t seeing the field any time soon because of lingering concussion symptoms.
Enter Marsh, 23, who was stellar in his first start against the Argos, throwing for 309 yards and a touchdown, with a single interception.
In 2012, the Argonauts’ regular-season record was 9-9, but they eventually took home the Grey Cup. With that, Milanovich is rejecting any idea of comfort settling in.
“If that’s how they’re thinking, that would be a very dangerous thing, and I don’t think our guys are feeling that way,” he said. “We have talent and we have possibilities, but right now, we’re not at an elite level.”
And it starts from the snap, where Collaros knows he leads the charge for the next six weeks.
“Any experience you get on the field is beneficial,” he said. “I’m fortunate we get to play [Montreal] again because we’ll know what they’re doing and … we’ll work on our flaws and we’ll get better.”
In order to secure a win, Collaros has to be the player he was against B.C. – effective – and he knows what has to be done: “Just keep getting better every day. I have to know what I’m doing, see the defence better and get the ball to my play makers.”
Collaros’s recent turn in the spotlight has fuelled conversation with regards to the Ottawa RedBlacks potentially snagging him in the expansion draft after this season. Nevertheless, he knows his role: help the Argonauts win, now.
So does he feel the pressure, yet?
“No. I mean we’re still in first place [in the East Division], right?” Collaros said. “We have to go out to Montreal, it’s a great atmosphere, and they’re a great team. It’s going to be a tough task for us, so we’re going to have to focus this week, and go out and win.”
Up until his first year at the University of Cincinnati, Collaros played both football and baseball at a high level. According to his father, Collaros knows how to keep himself relaxed in the heat of the spotlight.
“He’s always consistently been that way,” Dean Collaros said. “A lot of guys seem to feel pressure, but somehow, it’s very normal for him to step up.”
Even as a youngster playing tee ball, he was ready to make the play at any cost.
“A ground ball would get hit, and he’d sprint across the field, make a diving play and throw the guy out,” his father said with a chuckle. “We had to teach him to trust other people, to trust his team.”
In Toronto, Milanovich and the rest of the Argonauts are the ones who have to trust him.