MORGANTOWN - Cincinnati coach Butch Jones "fully anticipates'' that Zach Collaros will be healthy enough to start at quarterback Saturday when the Bearcats play at West Virginia.
There's a caveat to that, though.
"We did fully anticipate that he was going to play in the Syracuse game, as well,'' Jones said Monday.
This time, though, the prospects would appear to be much brighter. That Syracuse game was 10 days ago, a game the Bearcats lost 31-7 with Collaros ultimately standing on the sidelines in street clothes.
But by the time Cincinnati (3-5, 1-2 Big East) meets West Virginia (5-3, 1-2) at noon Saturday at Mountaineer Field, Collaros will have had just over three weeks to recover from a knee injury he suffered late in a loss to South Florida.
Why is the status of Collaros so crucial? Well, because he's leading the Big East in passing and total offense and has thrown 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season. For all the problems the Bearcats have endured during a disappointing season, quarterback play from Collaros has not been one of them.
But as Cincinnati was trying to fight back late in what would be a 38-30 loss to USF on Oct. 22, Collaros suffered a bruised knee when he was hit while scrambling. He stayed in the game for one more play and threw a touchdown pass, but then didn't return. After missing the Syracuse game, Cincinnati had last weekend off.
"His knee is much better,'' Jones said. "He had very limited reps in practice last week. That was just getting him healthy.''