For weeks the biggest question surrounding the University of Cincinnati has been the health and status of Zach Collaros's ankle. At the start of that time period the question was whether or not 12 would be healthy enough to play. Now it is a foregone conclusion. Barring something drastic happening in the next 2 days Collaros will indeed be under center for the Liberty Bowl. Coming back from injury for a bowl game is something of a right of passage for Cincinnati Quarterbacks.
First Geno Guidugli came back from a broken hand that kept him out of the infamous 70-7 game to play against Marshall in the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl. Guidugli came back for the bowl game and performed well throwing for 236 yards on 23 of 36 passing with two TD's.
Three years later Ben Mauk was seriously hurting as the Bearcats headed to Birmingham for the the Papajohns.com Bowl, nee BBVA Compas Bowl. Mauk was less than 100 per cent and had me screaming for an appearance from Dustin Grutza. Mauk slowly but surely shook the rust off and wound up winning the MVP of the game.
Now, 4 years after the last iteration the same plot will play out once again.
Butch Jones has a ton of faith in Zach Collaros, everyone does, despite the numerate why god why plays that he has produced. It is all part of the Zach Collaros experience. But no one will know how Zach is going to perform in this game. Not really.
It is a question mark, a lesser question mark than if Munchie Legaux was under center but it is still a question mark. To my mind at the very least. What I do know is that Collaros is bound to keep things interesting. I do feel more comfortable with the prospect of him facing this Vanderbilt secondary rather than Munchie for whats that worth.
Still, I do have questions about Zach, particularly in the running game because I don't know how much a factor his ankle will affect his mobility. Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian have pushed him very hard in practice. But practices can only go so far to replicate game intensity. Particularly when the guy coming back from injury is wearing that bright red "don't you even think about hitting me" jersey.
I have no expectations of Zach coming back and setting the world ablaze. It's been too long off, a month for everyone else, basically two for Zach for that to happen. My hope is that the appearance of 12 in the backfield will force Vanderbilt to play the Bearcats honestly, which could allow Isaiah Pead to have a big game, which has been the key to offensive success for the last two years.