Ticats QB Zach Collaros takes demotion in stride

June Jones and Zach Collaros stood on the field long after practice was over on Tuesday, the head coach doing most of the talking to the young quarterback. As the conversation started to wrap up, Collaros extended his hand to Jones who shook it, patting his player on the shoulder.

As demotions go, that’s about as amicable as they get.

Jones named Jeremiah Masoli his starting quarterback for the Labour Day Classic against the Toronto Argonauts next Monday, relegating Collaros to the bench. The Ticats have yet to win a game this season and Jones says that’s reason enough for the change.

“Zach is a great kid, competitive. I told him ‘I’m a new head coach because we’re 0-8, quarterbacks and coaches are expendable when these things happen. You just need to sit down for a few weeks and see what happens,’” Jones said. “I expect him to be ready to play but we’re going to start Jeremiah.”

Collaros is mired in the worst slump of his professional career with losses in 12 straight starts dating back to last season, one short of the CFL record. He has completed just 62.7 per cent of his passes for 1,743 yards with eight touchdowns (lowest among the league’s starters) and seven interceptions.

Hamilton also ranks last in the CFL in points scored (148), possession time (25 minutes. 54 seconds), passing yards (1,888), rushing yards (459) and net offence (269 per game). They’ve also given up 21 sacks and 77 pressures.

“Change is good sometimes. Zach’s been through a lot end of last year and this year and so just like the administration made the decision to bring me in as the head coach, sometimes change at quarterback is good,” Jones said. “We’ll see how it shakes out but I feel great about both those kids, I think they’re both starters in this league.”

Masoli is in his fifth season with Hamilton and has made nine regular season starts over that span with a 4-5 record. He has completed 65 per cent of the passes in his career while throwing 16 touchdowns against 18 interceptions. The 29-year-old can also run a little bit with 387 yards on 89 carries

His two most notable performances: a July 2016 contest in which he completed a CFL-record 23 straight passes in a 37-31 win over the Edmonton Eskimos and the 2015 East Final where he led the Ticats to the brink of a third straight Grey Cup appearance (only to be undone by the miracle Henry Burris to Greg Ellison touchdown pass.)

Collaros took the news in stride.

“I’m happy for Jeremiah,” he said. “Obviously, when you get sat down it’s not a fun thing but I’m going to keep coming to work every day preparing the way I have been and doing anything to help the team.”

Still, the move throws into question Collaros’ future with the club. On the books at over $500,000 next season (Masoli is a free agent in February) Collaros will need another opportunity to show he can be an elite CFL quarterback or he will likely be elsewhere in 2018 – if not sooner.