Maynard under fire yet still under center

WHAT: Football at UCLAWHERE: Rose Bowl, LAWHEN: Saturday, October 29, 2011
David Herschorn/File

Zach Maynard is still the Cal football team’s starting quarterback.

Heading into Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game against Washington State, this may not be what Bears fans wanted to hear. Take the commute across the bay and into San Francisco’s AT&T Park — chances are, you’ll hear some unfavorable opinions of Maynard tossed around.

This is a win that is both attainable and necessary for the Bears (4-4, 1-4 in the Pac-12) if they wish to pregame for the holidays at the Las Vegas Bowl or the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The Cougars (3-5, 1-4) are another team in the conference’s bottom-heavy logjam of mediocrity and have dropped four straight games by an average margin of over 17 points.

It’s a tired refrain, but Cal does not need Maynard to be the second coming of Aaron Rodgers. It simply needs him to be serviceable, something he has struggled with in two of the past three weeks.
After an uneven but promising start to the season, Maynard has been, by many measures, one of the worst quarterbacks in the conference. He has completed at least 60 percent of his passes in only two games; he balances this with a trio of sub-50 percent outings. The two Los Angeles schools have combined for 17 interceptions on the season, and seven of them flew from Maynard’s left hand.

UCLA’s Kevin Prince, who averages only 12.7 attempts per game to Maynard’s 35.1, is the only starter less accurate than the Cal quarterback.

“With experience, you hope consistency comes,” head coach Jeff Tedford said. “It’s not one thing. It can be a route, it can be protection, it can be a poor throw.”

In his Pac-12 debut against Fresno State, Maynard rated his own performance a “4 1/2 or 5 out of 10.” That September statline included 266 yards on 16-of-35 passing, two scores and an interception. His efforts since can be rated as high as seven (Colorado, Utah) and as low as one or two (USC, UCLA) on Maynard’s own scale.

Maybe going up against a Cougar pass defense that has allowed 11 touchdowns in the past three weeks will help him.

Then again, last week’s embarrassing loss came against a UCLA defense that nearly doubled its season-long interception count (now at nine) by picking off Maynard four times.

Tedford has endured a quarterback controversy before — a shuffled 2008 campaign between senior Nate Longshore and sophomore Kevin Riley that likely affected both their play. The ninth-year coach, no doubt eager to avoid the same situation, proclaimed Maynard the starter on Tuesday after leaving the question open three days prior.

Even so, job security doesn’t feel as safe as it did two or three weeks ago. Asked whether he feels certain about his starting job, Maynard said: “I feel like its up to Coach. Whatever he decides on game day, we’ll find out then.”

Backup Allan Bridgford may not be a better option. He has completed 12-of-29 passes for 179 yards in three games of garbage time. Whether or not he sees time on Saturday is still a question mark.

“I feel like I can lead an offense up and down the field,” the sophomore said. “I’m not the type of guy that’s going to lose a game for you.”

A midseason change could also cause a rift in the locker room, particularly when star receiver Keenan Allen is Maynard’s half-brother. The team is, for the most part, keeping any preference it may have close to the vest.

“Whoever is back there, I trust completely,” center Dominic Galas said. “I have 100 percent confidence in Zach and I have 100 percent confidence in anyone else.”

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  • Anonymous

    Cal is in the same kind of predicament as the Denver Broncos, sort of. The Cal fans are calling for other team QB’s to get a chance to prove themselves, just as Denver fans wanted to see if Tim Tebow could play. The only difference is that Cals coach will not listen. He is a stubborn, spiteful little man. 

    • Alpha1906

      Yeah, how’s Tebow working out for Denver?

      • Anonymous

        The point is that since both teams season is washed up a coach needs to address the teams weaknesses and try anything that might work. Denver is giving Tebow some time because Ortin doesn’t seem to be the long term solution, they will also try out Brady Quinn for a few games. If none of them are good enough then get rid of them all. I keep forgetting that Cals season isn’t technically over yet, they are playing for that last inconsequential Bowl Invitation. Although I predicted that Cal would beat one of the Oregon teams at the beginning of the season. If Oregon St. plays Cal the way they did Stanford then Cal will surely lose.

  • Anonymous

    Maynards only blessing is that he has 2 very talented WR’s (one of which is his brother) and a decent TE. Cal ranks #28th in passing yardage probably their only good offensive statistic. Maynard has a 53% completion average ( not even in the top 50 QB’s), A QB rating of 121, sounds high, (not even in the top 50 QB’s). He has only thrown 12 TD’s with 10 interceptions, most of those interceptions led to TD’s by the other team. Without his brother to throw too, neither Maynard  nor Allen (5 receiving TD’s, most of any Cal receiver) would be at Cal. Would Cal be any better off? They wouldn’t be any worse. 

  • Shakka

    Why does Tedford always talk about Maynard like he’s some true freshman trying to adjust at the D1 level? THE GUY IS A F***ING REDSHIRT JUNIOR. Tedford is scared to bench Maynard so it’s obvious he will start next year no matter what. That’s a great vote of confidence in the big time recruits sitting behind Maynard on the depth chart. No need to buy tickets until 2013.

    And for the love of god, Cal needs to ditch the white helmets and stupid uniform combinations. Please go back to classic-looking uniforms. PLEASE. It’s embarrassing. I know the all-pee yellow combination will be coming soon. It will be horrific.

    • Oski

      Season ticket holder since 1991, and been attending Cal games since 1970.  I’ll be there in ’12, ’13, etc.  It’s what being a FAN is all about.  ~Cheers, Oski

      • Anonymous

        If cheering for a sinking ship is your cup of tea, so be it. The only thing that draws fans to Cal games is Memorial Stadium, arguably the most beautiful football setting in the USA. 

        • Oski

          Memorial is Strawberry Canyon is gorgeous!  But (hopefully) fans flock there for more than the scenery.  As for the “sinking ship”, I guess my pulling for (mostly) mediocre teams the past forty years (read: Cal and SF Giants) has left me with the philosophy that one not need to always have a winner on the FIELD to keep them in your HEART. ~Cheers, Oski 

          • Anonymous

            I have been going to Cal games since 1962, I can now say that I have seen the 49ers ( 49ers fan) and Raiders win a Super Bowl. I have also seen the Giants (Giants fan) and the A’s win a World Series. I saw the Golden St. Warriors win the NBA Championship, Seen Stanford go to Rose Bowl and win, seen both Cal and Stanford Basketball programs send teams deep into the Championship playoffs. Cals Rugby team is one of the finest in North America and the World. The resurgence and notability of Cals Baseball team. I haven’t seen the Sharks win the Stanley Cup – they are on the verge – or the Cal Bears go to a Rose Bowl – sadly not realistic in my lifetime. Next year the Bay Area will host something my father said would never be possible; Americas Cup Championship Series hosted here in the Bay Area. Is it to hard to wish that Cal might find the spirit and gumption to go to the Rose Bowl? At this point I’d be willing to bet that Cals Basketball team will win the NCAA Championship before the Football team even makes the Rose Bowl.

    • Anonymous

      Well when you sell your soul to Nike and Reebok, you get tasteless uniforms. The worst so far that I’ve seen was Marylands, The only thing those ugly jerseys are good for is scaring crows. 

  • Farknocker

    I doubt I am the first to suggest this.. but, how about an “occupy” the sidelines until they oust Tedford.  I would much prefer loosing due to high academic/admissions standards and fewer stellar athletes, than selling out and subscribing to the attempt to win at any cost approach, recruiting thugs, etc., (and loosing anyway).   

    • Oski

      Loosing?  Are you a Cal grad?

      • Anonymous

        AA admit.