Five turnovers sink Bears against Trojans

10.14.football
Simone Anne Lang/File

SAN FRANCISCO — Zach Maynard and the Cal football team were stationed on the 10-yard line with perhaps the most necessary first-and-goal they had seen all season. With 55 ticks left in the first half, USC had already tossed up an effortless 20-0 lead.

So Maynard lines up, takes the snap, and whips the ball into the end zone. This is where it found the eager, welcoming hands of Trojan linebacker Dion Bailey.

The result, unsurprisingly, was a 30-9 loss at AT&T Park on Thursday night — the Bears’ third straight since starting Pac-12 play.

Before that, there was the fumble by wide receiver Keenan Allen, which squelched Cal’s game-opening drive at 17 yards. There was Marvin Jones’ punt return that put the Bears on their own 48; three plays later, USC swatted Maynard’s hand and recovered the ball. There was the obscenely horrendous interception Maynard threw on his own 10-yard line, an easy completion if linebacker Chris Galippo had instead been wearing blue and gold.

“You see these past two weeks, we beat ourselves,” Jones said, referring also to his team’s 43-15 loss at Oregon last Thursday. Cal had held a 15-14 halftime lead.

No, this wasn’t the Coliseum massacre of last year, wherein a bloodthirsty Matt Barkley tossed a school-record five touchdowns in the first half alone. So what? Cal gave the Trojans four first-half turnovers on Thursday night. For context: USC had entered AT&T Park with a mere five takeaways on the season. The Bears, in turn, had only committed four turnovers in 2011.

Truth be told, homecoming felt like a fresh start for this Cal (3-3, 0-3 in the Pac-12) team. Its first game in this stadium happened nearly a month ago. Its three season-opening victories were rung up against two lower-class teams and one relatively destitute one. Thursday was a barometer.

The verdict for now is that this squad, while aesthetically different from its 2010 incarnation, is remarkably similar in its production. Its offense, while more explosive and with a higher ceiling, cannot consistently put together drives. At its best, Maynard is tossing highlight-reel stuff to Allen or Jones, and the 5-foot-7 Isi Sofele is charging through multiple tacklers. At its worst, Maynard is zipping passes right into the hands of defenders and Michael Calvin is botching fly sweep handoffs.

“We’ve got to find a way to put it all together,” head coach Jeff Tedford said. “We’ve got flashes of really good things. We’ve got to put it all together.”

Its defense, while not as stellar as the lineup that produced four picks in the 2011 NFL Draft, proved itself at least an above-average unit. No Trojan recorded eye-popping stats: Barkley had 195 yards and two scores; backup tailback Curtis McNeal ran for 86 yards and a touchdown. Cal’s true freshman Stefan McClure, making his first start at cornerback, limited USC’s star wideout Robert Woods — the Pac-12’s leading receiver — to 36 yards.

Too often, though, turnovers gave the Bears a short field to defend.

“Either way, we’ve got to stop them, whether it’s 80 yards or 30 yards,” McClure said. “They never start in the end zone.”

There were attempts at a comeback — a 66-yard drive in the third quarter for the team’s first three points, a 44-yard touchdown drive in the fourth — but it was too little, too late. Maynard, who only burns or fizzles, managed a marvelous third quarter: 8-of-10 for 108 yards passing, paired with a rushing touchdown. He finished with 294 yards and three interceptions, with 13 of his 25 completions going to Allen, a career-high for the receiver.

“Sometimes he does force it (to me),” Allen said. “I try to tell him about it, but I don’t know if he listens to me or not.”

USC (5-1, 3-1) has now outscored Cal by a total of 82-0 in the first halves of their last three contests. The Bears, of course, have now lost to USC for eight years running. The difference is that the first six — or even seven — could be dusted off as a loss against a powerhouse.

That was not the case on Thursday night.

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t know how a sincere Cal fan can support this regime.  There are still Cal communities that object to calling out Tedford, and that’s absurd.

    It’s not the record that is so bothersome and warranting of firing, it is how they’ve won (against awful teams) and lost (getting blown out; incompetent offense), combined with this unjustified commitment to Maynard.  And Tedford is responsible for the atrocioius QB play no matter how you slice it.  The “QB guru” has gotten bottom of the barrel production from the QB positon the last few years.  He continues to  play a QB this year despite having like 5 options on the bench that did not suck for a mid-major school like Buffalo.  Tedford is seeing something that isn’t there when it comes to Maynard, and that has been happening too much lately.

  • guest

    Tedford is stale.  Watching Cal football is like pouring salt into my eyes.  Can’t wait for rugby to start…mmmmmmmmm rugby.  Its time to shake things up.  Come on Sandy!  Shake things up!

    • Anonymous

      Cal Ruby – you got the answer to our short yardage problem!!!  Tedford can’t buy a yard.  He should watch our rugby team for answers.

  • Anonymous

    Fire Tedford. 

    P.S. It doesn’t matter if there’s a buyout or not. We need to get people talking about firing his ass now. The more talk, the faster it will happen. If not this season, then the next one. We won’t have to wait until December of 2012 to get Mike Leach or et al. 

    P.P.S. When the Old Blues and posters at California Golden Blogs start wailing about the ghost of Holmoe, tell them to shove that logical fallacy up their ass. 

    P.P.P.S. When we’re looking for a coach let’s try to find someone who, while loyal to his players, won’t make apologies for substandard QB play game after game without any threat of the pine.

    • Anonymous

      “When the Old Blues and posters at California Golden Blogs start wailing
      about the ghost of Holmoe, tell them to shove that logical fallacy up
      their ass.”

      Hilarious!  California Golden bloggers is riddled with homers, and if you inject some of this reality there you will be labeled a troll!

      • Anonymous

        You are misguided in using Holmoe as a reference point.  If mediocrity and sub par play is acceptable to you, then by all means Holmoe is the appropriate yard stick.

  • volvox

    Get rid of Tedford NOW!! I’ve been saying it for more than one year. He’s been at Cal too long and became complacent. The team continues to be undisciplined – coach’s fault. Cal plays doormat teams intially, they get an inflated sense of themselves, then they get their arses handed to them when they play a real team. I’m really tired of this pattern every year.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been saying it ever since he blamed Riley for his own snafu in the OSU game when we were No. 1 for 20 minutes.  As you recall, we lost by 3 points and that was due to the ill fated on-side kick before the half where OSU drilled a field goal due to Tedford’s poor decision.  I kept calling for his dismissal when it was very obvious he was under utilizing our 5-star recruit, DeSean Jackson, with those silly horizontal plays.

  • CAL1

    Tedford’s conference record in the last 4.5 years: 17 wins, 22 losses. F#%&ing pathetic. There are plenty of coaches out there who can produce that for 1/4 of Tedford’s salary.

    I’m sick of all the “brothers” talk regarding Maynard and Allen. I hope Tedford realizes he’s putting his career on the back of Maynard and the “brothers” feel-good story.

    Are we really going to give Tedford another season, complete with $500k bonus for doing absolutely nothing, before canning him? His salary demands performance, if not excellence, each and every season. He must be fired now. Maynard must be benched now. No more catering to the “brothers” stupid story. No more “we have to support our coach” loser-mentality talk.

    Tedford will get a $500k for being the coach when the facilities open. Who put that dumbass bonus in his contract? You’d think Tedford was out there with a hard hat helping build the new press box or something.

    FIRE TEDFORD NOW. And a win over WSU or Oregon State will not satisfy anyone.

    Pack your bags, “coach.” And you can take your staff with you (except for Gould and Lupoi).

    • Anonymous

      I can’t blame players for the no-secrets play book and poor play calling.  Recall DeSean Jackson had poor stats and plays when Tedford’s horizontal game plan took over.  The funny thing is Tedford kept on saying there were things the team couldn’t do because the wide outs lacked size in DJ and Robert Jordan.  Now that he has size, he hasn’t done much with it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-McCoy/100000544887579 Jack McCoy

    So when’s basketball season? We’ve wasted enough time (and money) on Tedford for one year. 

    • Anonymous

      Yahoo – I just got my basketball season tickets this week.

  • lost all hope

    at this point all questions must be asked.

    Maynard was a 2 star recruit coming out of high school. his performance at third rate Buffalo was nothing to brag about, yet he’s our starting quarterback.

    is Tedford starting Maynard to keep Keenan Allen happy? remember, there’s a handful of elite 11 quarterbacks sitting on the bench right now.

    who’s in control of this team?

  • Sad

    Cal needs to fire Tedford and hire Mike Leach before Arizona grabs him.

  • Oracle

    Absolutely pathetic. Tedford now has the worst start in conference play in his tenure at Cal. In 10 years Tedford has won no outright conference championships, has no Rose Bowl appearances, no BCS Bowl appearances, a garbage road record, and has now lost 8 straight games to SC. Tedford is one of the highest paid coaches in the Pac-12 and nation. He gets well over $2 a year plus benefits for mediocrity, or in the latest case, pathetic losing efforts.

    Tedford will get a half million dollar bonus for being the head coach when the facilities open next year. To pay him that money is truly reckless. Sandy Barbour needs to be held accountable as well. Back in the day, every time some idiot would print an article about Tedford going to the NFL, Sandy would run out and extend his contract. His contract runs through, what, 2045? Whatever. Fire his ass and buy him out.

    New facilities. New beginning. Let’s go!

    • Anonymous

      Barbour will turn a deaf ear- UNLESS- The fans boycott Cal football until Tedford resigns [ Money listens ]. He is probably greedy and egotistical enough to stay until they have to buy him out, Maybe the state could default on his contract. Tell him if he leaves we’ll call the new training facility “The Tedford Training Facility” if he torments us and drives Cal down hill sucking up millions as he does, then we’ll put an * next to his winning record- * most selfish coach in Cal History.

  • Anonymous

    Where are all those Michael Calvin fans that keep trying to tell the world that he has good hands. Next time you see slow motion of video of Maynard, you can see his lack of concentration. 

    • fed up with this crap

      Calvin has had butter fingers since day one… don’t know why he still gets in the rotation. Maynard is horrible; a true Tedford-era QB. The commentators kept talking about Maynard “growing”  and Tedford “learning” about him etc. Uhhh, the dude is a redshirt junior so I think what you see is what you get. Plus, he was on the damn team last year “learning,” just not playing in games. It’s not like he showed up on campus the day of the Fresno State game and suited up. Stupid.

      The season is lost so PLAY BRIDGFORD.

      • Anonymous

        Amen !!!!!

    • Anonymous

      Remember, Calvin was Tedford’s answer to the drop off of DeSean Jackson’s performance in his last year at Cal.  Tedford kept on complaining (much by inference) that he couldn’t use the middle of the field due to the lack in size in our wide receivers.  Never mind most of DeSean’s TDs were caught in the middle of the field. 

  • Anonymous

    DO THE PLAYERS KNOW THAT TEDFORDS JOB MAY BE ON THE LINE ? Maybe that explains their poor play. Maybe the players are scratching their heads wondering why is my coach not replacing this QB that seems prone to giving games away. This was clearly bad coaching as has been evident in Cal’s feeble attempts on the road. 20-0 at halftime and Tedford lets Maynard play the second half ? We don’t know if any of the other QB’s would have done better because Tedford never gives them a chance. You have 2 Wr’s that will be drafted into the Pro’s, Maynard is not and never will be drafted into the Pro’s so shouldn’t you at least give some other QB a shot? Reminds me of how prejudiced Joe Montana’s coach at Notre Dame was against him even though Joe made some incredible comebacks. 

    BOYCOTT CAL GAMES, DON’T GO, TILL TEDFORD QUITS.

    • Anonymous

      Correction – one WR.  For some reason, Jones always misses the big catch.  I am referring to his latest drop at the two yard line.

  • Julian

    We need to Mike Leach formerly of Texas Tech and make a statement on the Pac 12. Jeff Tedford will never take Cal to the next level, let”s spend the same money (which is off budget by the way) and get a winner!

    • Anonymous

      Cal needs a big name proven winner. There are also a bunch of out of work coaches that should not be in the broadcasting business. I like your suggestion of Leach. Is there any other coaches people can think of that  would take Cal to that next level. I think that Cal has 2 assistants that should stay no matter who the new coach is- Tosh Lupoi and Ron Gould – both have done good jobs and are excellent recruiters.

      • Anonymous

        I agree, Tedford has to go.  The turnovers are indicative a total team meltdown.  Two of Maynard’s INTs were as much as the fault of the coaches as they were Maynard’s.  The pick in the end zone was due in part to piss poor plays that have haunted Tedford teams since the final year of DeSean Jackson.  When the ball is mid-field, we attack the sidelines.  When the ball is in the red zone, we attack the middle.  It makes no sense.  The D bunches up in the red zone because there’s less real estate.  You attack the corners of the end zone in that area of the field and especially when the ball is on the ten.  You attack the middle of the field when the ball is anywhere else on the field.  There’s a lot of real estate that goes unused in Tedford’s playbook.

        The last pick of Maynard, he should not have thrown into triple coverage.  However, that was his only option in that direction.  Again, tough to succeed when there are not a lot of options.

        Third-and-nine, our receivers run a six yard pattern – WTF?  Is that a player issue or is that what the play calls for?  What was our game plan – play keep away from the tight end?  I don’t recall a throw to our tight end last night – not even on a third-and-five.  Heck, just run a squat route – go 5 yards and an inch and just sit there for the pass.

        We need a new coach who is familiar with integrating the west coast offense (ala Bill Walsh) with the spread.  Spread the D and give the QB multiple options.  We need an offense that can help us get 4-6 yards on first down consistently so we don’t get into third and long.

      • Julian

        any good African-American assistant coach in the SEC wouild jump at coaching at Cal!

        • Anonymous

          for 1/4 of the salary!

          • Anonymous

            until they see the price of California real estate!!!

        • Anonymous

          Now, why hasn’t Barbour thought about this???  Great idea.  Any thoughts about how we can avoid that expensive buy out???  Can we get Tedford to pull Ho outing like Spitzer or Gifford?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-McCoy/100000544887579 Jack McCoy

      Leach? The dude who tortured a concussed player? No, we do NOT need Leach but — given our track record in hiring coaches — we’ll probably end up with him.

      Few choices would be worse than who we have now. That’s one of them who would be.

      • Anonymous

        he didn’t torture the Palmer kid; even Palmer was on record as saying he “found it funny.” However, it was a bit petty, unprofessional, and a sort of back-handed way of sticking it to a player he didn’t like, even though he didn’t like him for good reasons.  It was something no coach really should do….even if the kid kind of deserved it, which by all reports, he did.

      • Anonymous

        agree

  • Just_Deserts

    Cal deserved to lose, b/c UC throws your tuition away.
    Tedford $2.35 million (2010), $2.8 million (2009).
    http://www.sacbee.com/statepay/
    “$321 million upgrade of its football stadium in the midst of the worst budget crisis in its history”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/16/us/skeptics-cast-wary-eyes-on-plan-to-finance-cal-stadium-upgrade.html?scp=1&sq=uc%20stadium&st=cse

    • Anonymous

      The broadcasters in last nights game said that the retrofit cost was not coming out of the universities coffers. 

      • Julian

        The Football program went off the UC budget the second year of Tedford’s tenure. PAC-12 is a pro-style game hire a coach that will make it happen!

    • Anonymous

      ~90% of Tedford’s salary is not paid by the UC.

    • Anonymous

      The problem you pointed out is reflective our the problem with our entire country – we have everything backwards.  Compensation (retirement included) is better in the public sector than private sector; the uneducated have it easier than the educated; those who add value to our country make more than those who merely entertain; and those who signed liar loans and walked away from their mortgages are now out Occupying Wall Street.  BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN CAL DESERVES TO LOSE ANY MORE THAN USC DESERVES TO WIN.

      • PR5

        “Compensation (retirement included) is better in the public sector than the private sector.”

        This might be the stupidest comment in the history of the Daily Cal.

        • Anonymous

          You must be one of those jaded public employees sucking on the public fisc.