Is It The System? Or Is It The Quarterback?

We spoke with University of Cincinnati quarterbacks coach Greg Forest and posed the question to him if the success of the Bearcats quarterbacks should go to the system Brian Kelly runs or if the players should get the credit.

Greg Forest has been with Brian Kelly for many, many years as an assistant coach. During that time Coach Forest has seen his share of quarterback play in the offensive scheme used by Coach Jeff Quinn and Coach Kelly. So is the success they've enjoyed been all about the scheme? The coaching the players received? Or, is it the quality of quarterbacks that have been lucky enough to be part of it?

I think it's all three. It's the players, the coaching and it's the system. If it's a system they believe in their going to be good in it. If it's a system they don't believe in they are not going to be good in it. Our system allows guys to believe in the system, allows them to be proficient in it and I feel we do a very good job of coaching our athletes."

With Brian Kelly's "Next Man In" style of coaching, how far can the Bearcats go if needed at the quarterback position?

"I think as we saw last year when Tony went down we had both Zach and Chazz step up and get the job done. It always goes back to the kids as those kids are so smart and they do a great job of preparing each week no matter if they are the starter or the third string guy, they are all prepared. Brendon Kay right now goes down and prepares with the scout team but he could go in and play on Saturday because of all the preparation he does in the classroom."

While some may be surprised about the success Zach Collaros has enjoyed the past few weeks, the coaching staff knew going in what they were getting when they signed Collaros a couple of years ago.

"We knew with him being 30-0 and two-time state champion at quarterback what we had with him and it was just a matter of time before he got in and had an opportunity to show what he was capable of doing on the field."

So what does the Bearcats coaching staff look for in a quarterback?

"I think first off we look at arm strength. The must be able to make all the throws that we need. But we also look at intelligence and that is why we like to have them come here in person and be able to talk with each of them and find out how they are."

So how does Coach Forest see this weekends match-up with Connecticut?

"I think it's going to be a dog-fight all the way in to the fourth quarter. As you can see they've been winning games in the fourth quarter or the game has been decided in the fourth quarter. We know it's going to be a dog-fight every week and it's just a matter of prevailing in the end."

With talk of Tony Pike being ready to take the field, who would Coach Forest like to see on the field behind center?

"If Tony is cleared medically I'd love to see Tony back there as soon as we can get him back. He's just too good of a quarterback to be sitting on the bench. Zach has done a great job and will continue to do a great job if we call upon him. But when you have a quarterback with Heisman Trophy potential you want to get him back there as soon as possible."

As for who should get credit for Tony's success, Coach Forest is quick to point the finger back at his players.

"I think it still goes back to Tony as he does a great job of preparing each week. People want to give the coaches credit but we don't go out on the field and play and make all those plays happen. Tony still goes out and does it. I can't take credit for that as I have to put it back on the player each week."

With the Bearcats entering their game with UConn sitting with a perfect record and the staff having been through this before at Grand Valley State, has the past helped them prepare this years team for the task at hand?

"It always starts at the beginning but the hardest part is staying focused through out the year and just keep reminding them it's only about this week. We can't worry about all the outside stuff but we can control what we do each week in getting ready for that week's game."

With four games left in the regular season Greg Forest is sure to see more trials to handle before the season ends. But one thing Bearcat fans should know is that Forest and the rest of Brian Kelly's staff seem well prepared for what ever comes their way.

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