October 22, 2019

Need to Know | Oct. 22

Winnipeg Blue Bombers #8 Zach Collaros during Winnipeg Blue Bombers practice October 16, 2019.

Let the record show that Zach Collaros did not spend his downtime during Winnipeg Blue Bombers practice on Tuesday turning water into wine. And he most certainly did not raise both arms while looking to the heavens and then miraculously stop the rain/sleet from falling.

But with Chris Streveler taking a day off after taking a pounding in last Saturday’s 37-33 loss to the Calgary Stampeders, the veteran pivot did step behind centre Michael Couture and get a ton of work with the Bombers’ No. 1 offence.

And he looked pretty dang good, too.

He’s still had less than a handful of full practice sessions with his new club since being acquired from the Toronto Argonauts at the Canadian Football League trade deadline, but there’s a very real chance he could get the call for Friday’s rematch against the Stamps at IG Field with Streveler on the mend.

“I just got done talking to Stanley (Bryant) and Yosh (Jermarcus Hardrick) and it just feels really good just to be in a huddle and be at practice. It felt good,” began Collaros after practice. “Anytime you have an opportunity to play it’s a great thing. You prepare every single week thinking it’s going to be your shot and go from there.

“I’m going to do whatever Coach O’Shea goes with and he knows I’ve played a lot of football so whatever his call is, we’re all going to roll with.”

Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea, as is his custom, would not tip his hand as to who would start, be it Streveler, Collaros or rookie Sean McGuire. He said of Streveler, “he had the day off today, and we’ll see where that puts us tomorrow” and when asked about Collaros being an option, added, “They’re all options. I like our quarterback room. They’ve got to be the toughest quarterback room in the league.”

The case for taking a look at Collaros, even if Streveler recovers, is a compelling one. He has a 34-31 record as a starter in this league with the Argos, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the Riders were 10-4 in games he started last year.

There’s also a case for getting a sense of what McGuire looks like under fire. His CFL experience is limited to the two passes he threw in short relief of Streveler for a series in Saturday’s loss, but he’s also the only one in the Bombers QB stable, including veteran Matt Nichols, who is under contract for 2020.

“We really like Sean McGuire,” said Bombers QB coach Buck Pierce. “Understand he’s a guy that just hasn’t had a lot of reps, but he’s continued to get better and better all season. He’s impressed us thoroughly throughout his first rookie season of being with us. We like a lot of things he does, but having a veteran guy in the building at this point of the season is a positive for us as well.

“(Collaros) has got a veteran presence about him the way he walks into a huddle and the way he speaks to a room. That’s what we expect from a veteran guy. Good impressions of him.”

Collaros has spent the days since the Oct. 9th trade deadline immersing himself into Paul LaPolice’s playbook. His practices last week were as much about shaking off rust as anything, given he hadn’t thrown a pass in anger since the Riders’ season opener against Hamilton on June 13th. In that game, he lasted all of two snaps before being drilled with a shot to the head as he slid by Ticats linebacker Simoni Lawrence, who was then suspended. Collaros was later traded to the Argos and then to the Bombers and has only recently been cleared to return to the field.

But this week his crash course continues, especially with the possibility of starting this Friday.

Asked about his familiarity with the LaPolice attack, Collaros offered this:

“There are different nuances and different systems, but from a terminology standpoint they do a really good job of helping the guys out and using word association and those kind of things to learn it.

“Obviously, putting that onto the field and translating it to your feeder on time and all those things is different, especially when you’re out there with the guys you haven’t been working with for a long time. But from a terminology standpoint, and conceptually, it’s all things that every guy in this league has seen because a lot of teams do the same stuff.

“LaPo does a lot but has a lot of different things to keep defences off balance, especially in the run game with the motion, so learning those little terms have been a bit difficult until they tell me the why, but it’s been a really fun 11-12 days to get in there with those guys. They love football and so do I, so do all these guys on offence so it’s been a lot of fun talking ball with them.”

Even before the injury to Nichols the Bombers were an offence that won games by controlling the line of scrimmage with the run game and then hitting on their shots through the air. That changed, naturally, after Nichols was felled in mid-August simply because of the difference in his ability to read the field and process compared to a sophomore pro like Streveler.

Collaros won’t run like Streveler – few quarterbacks in this league ever have – but if he can return to form he is a pivot who can deliver strikes from the pocket and still hit receivers while on the run outside of it.

Collaros was quizzed Tuesday about what differences he might bring to the offence compared to Streveler, and deftly bobbed and weaved around the question – just as a veteran might.

“I definitely can’t run the ball like he did the other night – that was really impressive – and my hat’s off to him for just his toughness and will to win. That was really impressive,” said Collaros. “But I just want to bring my experience into the room and try to lead the guys the way I always have: by example, by putting in the work and if you need to say something, you need to say something.

“t’s just them knowing that I know what I’m doing and I’m prepared. That’s all you can really ask for from a teammate and as a quarterback the guys expected from you.”

The Bombers returned to the practice field for the first time Tuesday since the weekend loss to Calgary and in advance of Friday’s visit from the Stampeders to IG Field. Here are some notes and quotes in this week’s NEED TO KNOW…


Collaros did command a lot of media attention after practice on Tuesday, which is hardly a shocker. But McGuire also spoke about what may be ahead for him this Friday.

“Obviously Chris wasn’t out there, but I don’t really know what the deal is, I’m just going out to practice and doing my job every day,” he said. “That won’t ever change. I was third string earlier in the year to now and the past couple of weeks I always treat it the same – just always prepare like you’re ready to go in.”

McGuire did get a chance, albeit brief, in Saturday’s loss when he came in for a moment in the fourth quarter after Streveler had to leave the game due to injury. He attempted a bomb down the sideline to Lucky Whitehead that didn’t quite connect and then hit Andrew Harris for a short gain on second down.

“My job is to support Chris, so first and foremost when I went down (to talk to Streveler) I went over and said, ‘I got your back, bro’ and then went in there and just tried to do my job,” said McGuire. “We had a shot dialed up and it was just fun to spin it one time…

“I loved it (the play call to Whitehead). I went into the huddle and said, ‘We’re going to score right here’ and I fully expected to. It was a double move and the (the Stampeders corner) didn’t bite on it quite as hard, but we still had the opportunity and in that moment it was just instinctual. I just dropped back and was playing football. I wasn’t thinking, I was just trying to do my job and make a play and barely missed on it.”


Bombers RB Andrew Harris also met with the media on Tuesday and was asked what the approach was for the final game of the regular season.

“Win,” he began. “I felt like we played a physical game last week. We matched the intensity, we just came up short. We’ve just got to find a way to get that extra play, that extra few points to close out a win. That’s absolutely important for us right now to end the season in the win column.”

That’s a given if the Bombers want to host a home playoff game. As it stands, they would need to win Friday and then either hope Calgary loses in their regular season finale against B.C. or win and then hope the Riders drop their final two games against Edmonton.


Not practising on Tuesday were CB Chandler Fenner, DB Marcus Rios, S Brandon Alexander, DE Craig Roh, LS Maxime Latour, LS Chad Rempel. As well, WR Drew Wolitarsky was injured late in the session, walked off under his own steam and did not return.

At the same time, WR Darvin Adams was back on the field after last week’s game and was working with the starting offence.