Zach Collaros seeks more efficiency

On the eve of Cincinnati's final spring practice, Zach Collaros was at the car repair shop. He needed a new window after some punk decided to break into his ride.

But Collaros was still in a good mood. He liked the way spring drills had gone for the Bearcats, whom he feels just need some minor repairs themselves to improve on last year's 4-8 record.

They've got a great place to start with their senior quarterback, who led the Big East in passing yards (2,902) and touchdowns (26) last season. Collaros is looking for more than just stats this year, though.

"We had a great season if you just want to talk numbers," he said. "But we weren't very consistent in anything we did, whether it be the passing game or the running game."

Turnovers killed Cincinnati last year, and Collaros knows he can't have another season where he throws a league-high 14 interceptions like he did in 2010. He's trying to rein in his desire to make huge plays on every snap.

"When it's third-and-12, it's all right to not throw for the first down and punt the ball sometimes," he said. "And sometimes when you do dumb it down to a two-yard pass, that turns into a 15-yard pass. I'm working on going through my progressions, understanding the game better and not putting the defense in bad situations.

"It's on me to make good decisions. As long as I make good decisions, the offense should be fine."

Collaros can make things happen with his legs as well as his arm, but he might have been a bit too quick to scramble and throw on the move last season. While the team doesn't want him to lose that running threat, Collaros said he worked this spring on sliding in the pocket and looking for his second and third receivers while setting his feet properly for the throw.

He won't have one of his favorite targets from last year in receiver Armon Binns. But Collaros still has D.J. Woods and likes the way the new receivers such as Kenbrell Thompkins and Anthony McClung progressed this spring. Throw in running back Isaiah Pead and a tight end corps led by Travis Kelce, and the Bearcats' offense that led the Big East in scoring last year still looks loaded.

"We have a lot of weapons," Collaros said. "It just comes down to consistency and execution."

There were times last year when Collaros had to throw 40 or 50 times in a game because Cincinnati was playing from behind. He hopes a more experienced defense and a more efficient offense will mean less of those shootout-type situations. He's now the face of a senior class that went to back-to-back BCS games and doesn't want consecutive losing seasons to be a part of their legacy.

"We want to be remembered as winners," Collaros said. "We're going to do everything we can to go out as winners."