Nevada’s Fajardo a smoking gun for Cal’s loss

Nevada's Fajardo and the pistol formation stifled an underwhelming Cal defense on Saturday.
Andrew Kuo/Staff
Nevada's Fajardo and the pistol formation stifled an underwhelming Cal defense on Saturday.

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The script was perfect: Memorial Stadium was flush with excitement after a 21-month absence, the Cal football team showed promise, and the opponent seemed beatable. All the Bears needed to do was take care of business, and the narrative would take care of itself.

Until it didn’t.

With optimism abounding, Nevada walked into Berkeley and destroyed any hopes for a grand season in a 31-24 stunner.

“We didn’t play very well,” said head coach Jeff Tedford. “There were way too many mistakes. Communication breakdowns, key penalties; we just weren’t sharp.”

The Cal defense looked helpless against the inside-outside option attack of the Wolfpack, who utilized the pistol formation to read-option the Bears to death.

“Their offense spreads you thin,” Tedford said. “You have to stop the dive, you have to stop the quarterback on the edge and you have to stop the pitch. You really have to be disciplined with your eyes.”

With quarterback Zach Maynard on the bench to start the game due to a missed tutoring assignment, the Bears were forced to start backup Allan Bridgford. The junior looked uncomfortable and unprepared, completing just 1-of-8 passes and stalling the offense on his three drives.

Meanwhile, Wolfpack quarterback Cody Fajardo left the Cal defense looking mystified. His read-option attack fooled the Bears the entire first quarter, the outside linebackers unable to contain the speedy Fajardo from breaking to the outside. Running back Stefphon Jefferson (35 carries, 140 yards) trucked through the defense with a bruising running style, taking inside handoff after inside handoff and moving the chains in short-yardage situations.

Fajardo and Jefferson teamed up for two touchdown drives in the first quarter, sticking the Bears in a 14-0 hole before Maynard’s second drive.

Maynard returned at the end of the first quarter but failed to get the offense going until the middle of the second. He found Bryce Treggs on a 37-yard touchdown strike to pull Cal within seven with 4:38 remaining in the second.

The beginning of the second half brought another Fajardo-Jefferson touchdown march, putting the Bears two touchdowns down halfway through the third quarter.

But the elusive momentum wave started to shift toward the Bears on the ensuing drive. A squib kick and a personal foul penalty gave Cal favorable field position, and Maynard quickly completed a 12-yard out to Treggs to put the Bears at the 39-yard line. Keenan Allen showed his first-round athletic ability on the next play, cutting and juking his way to a 39-yard touchdown run on a reverse.

A Nevada fumble on the kickoff stuck Cal at the Nevada 27 on the next possession, but the offense stalled and settled for a field goal.

Maynard (17-for-30, 242 yards, 2 TDs) found freshman Chris Harper on a 13-yard touchdown strike to tie it up at 24 with just under eight minutes remaining.

“It was an average day for Zach,” Tedford said. “He’s better than he was today.”

But the momentum train came to a halt when Nevada took possession at the 40-yard line with 4 minutes left. Fajardo slowly and methodically moved the ball down the field, completing short pass after short pass to set the Wolfpack up for a crucial 3rd and 4 at the Cal 38 with 2 minutes left. Fajardo completed a 20-yard pass to his tight end, and Nevada scored on a Jefferson run three plays later.

In the end, Cal’s defense was simply overmatched by the speed and agility of Fajardo.

“This is a setback for us,” Tedford said. “We let the fans down today.”

Michael Rosen covers football. Contact him at [email protected].

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  • Jamo11

    Tedford was great when he had Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. It looks like it was Rodgers, not Tedford. Can we get our stadium, and our trees, back?

  • dah end

    Amazing there are 5 PAC12 teams with less top 250 commitments
    than Cal before the Nevada game. There are 2 more quarterbacks
    plus Bridgeford to use with Southern Utah. No I don’t care if the brothers Allen Maynard
    pout. The other quarterbacks should be getting 1/2 the 1st reps. in practice.

  • loverpoint

    Still no post game press conference from Tedford. Can’t wait to hear the explanation as to why Cal Lost.

  • sigh

    Hey Maynard! you are expected to make the odd throw now and then. your antics after a couple of completions (what was that pointing at your left arm?) were kind of lame. toughen up buddy and stop playing like its back alley football. Sandy, get a clue and Tedford, you look tired old man. Time to leave?

  • MondayQB57

    If Sandy Barbour was a Cal football fan, she would feel the misery we feel and dump Tedford.

  • alum

    The Ohio State game will be absolutely ugly! Add the fact that it will be before a national tv audience, Cal will stink it up which seems to be the case always.

  • loverpoint

    So when is Tedford going to have a press conference? I love to hear his excuses and watch his finger pointing. Nevada is now just one of a growing number of NCAA teams that can claim that they own Cal. Maybe Tedford should devote more time to coaching than improving his putting skills.

    • MondayQB57

      I’d like to ask him why he listed his house for sale. I think the guy is burned out and he’s ready to move on. The problem is he can’t be honest and leave the money. He feel’s he is entitled to that money even if he sits and collects a paycheck. Oh well, typical state worker mentality but way beyond state worker pay scale. In addition to pension legislation, they should have Tedford legislation.

  • MondayQB57

    I am going to enjoy watching former Cal Bears in the NFL perform at or above their level of skill. It’s hard to stomach of star players under achieving because they are playing in a Tedford system (that sucks). We have had a lot of talent and can’t seem to get them clicking on the same page. It’s attitude, it’s motivation, it’s attention to details and it’s preparation. Tedford’s system is 1 out of 4 and that’s spotting him preparation. With the substitution mishaps on Saturday, that’s a very generous spot.

  • I_h8_disqus

    It was almost a perfect day. Pre-game was awesome. Students and alumni were excited. Getting into the stadium was easy. It was fun having Top Dog. Surrounded by friends in the stands. Then the game started and Tedford showed us that with an entire summer, he couldn’t prepare for Nevada. After the first loss to Nevada, you would think that he would learn from his mistakes.

    I predict the poorest selling item in the ASUC store will be the Ted Head tank tops. Who would wear a tye dye shirt with Tedford’s head on the front?

  • Disgusted Alum

    WTH? USC, UCLA, and Stanford line up patsy opening games with Hawaii, Rice, and SJSU respectively and leave with wins. We have an equally lopsided màtch up, are 10 point favorites, have the support of a full house psyched to see the stadium and go out and humiliate the CAL faithful. I’m sick of Tedford’s consistently Ill-prepared teams, I’m tired of the Bears mediocre play, and I can’t understand why our program – a supposed peer university – can’t compete with USC, UCLA, and Stanford. It appears Tedford’s only memorable impact will have been lining Nike’s pockets by choosing uniforms better suited to Sac St. It’s time Tedford pack his bags; UC deserves better.

    • viva la mort

      patsy? lopsided? my ass. in the 2 most recent match-ups, cal has proven they cant hang with the pack. and yes, tedford sucks.

  • unbearable

    Embarrassing, disgusting, pathetic! Once again, Cal, you guys are the embarrassment of the conference. An epic fail, on your newly minted turf, in you house! You guys really suck, and that is indicative of your coaching. If this isn’t Tedfurd and PendergrA$$’s last season, then something is very wrong in Strawberry Hill.

  • tiredoflosing

    that was the most soul sucking football game I have ever attended. the crowd around me was pissed by the end. i am done with Tedford. i have season tickets unfortunately. i will give them away to friends who want to check out berkeley and see their team play here. i can’t support the football program until they decide they want to play to win (sandy? sandy? you there?). at least we still have rugby and swimming.

  • Guest

    “With Maynard on the bench to start the game due to a missed tutoring
    assignment, the Bears were forced to start backup Allen Bridgford.”

    What’s this “missing tutoring assignment”? Can someone elaborate on this?

  • MondayQB57

    This is where JT and I have a philosophical difference and it could reflect a difference in coaching philosophy between JT and coaches such as Pete Carroll. We can always use a
    little motivation at any given time.

    A quote from the San Jose Mercury:

    “Tedford said the Bears don’t need extra motivation.”

    “That was two years ago. Really this is about how have we prepared, how are
    we going to execute,” he said. “We’re very ready. We’re as ready as we can
    be without playing a game.”

  • sshafikh

    I’m just sick and tired of Tedford. No logic to his coaching approach.

    If you are a true Cal fan, you’ll make your feelings known by booing him as loud as you can.

  • loverpoint

    Cal started the game with a Beautiful new retrofitted stadium and ruined it with ugly uniforms and down right ugly football play. What is really shameful is how the local media has allowed Tedford to go unchecked and unquestioned in his ability to coach a winning team. His inability to coach goes hand and hand with his inability to chose an offensive coordinator or recruit players. The promise of $300+ million spent on facilities would have talented 5 star athletes lining up like lemmings to go to Cal has been a dismal failure so far.

    • MondayQB57

      We did not need a new hour or a remodeled house. What we needed was house cleaning. Tedford’s program is a failure and it was only Lynch, Rogers and Jackson who gave it some life.

  • Guest

    Just the way Brian Barsky wanted the game to end.

  • Glum Alum

    This was supposed to be an easy win but don’t blame the players, blame the program. For the last 5 years and arguably much longer, Tedford’s program has done an abysmal job in training the players, devising strategy and managing game day decisions. It is not the assistant coaches, the facilities or the talent on the field, it is the head coach.

    Send Tedford off into the sunset with the $20+ million that we’ve paid him so far and the $5 million that we will owe him to end this disgrace. His continued employment can no longer be defended nor tolerated because it is NOT going to get any better.and it is, frankly, making alums and students alike quite ill.

    • loverpoint

      Tedford is apathetic towards the team, he knows his contract is rock solid and he has the University by their family jewels and is twisting as hard as he can. At least we have a Rugby and Baseball team that know how to win. I think I will take may Cal paraphernalia and hide it in the basement till Basketball season starts.

      • I_h8_disqus

        Take the Cal gear and go to water polo matches on Saturdays.

        • loverpoint

          How much do they charge. What time do they usually start?

          • I_h8_disqus

            On days with football games, they usually start a couple hours before the football game. Last year, I believe they charged $8 a game for non-students.

          • loverpoint

            Good info- thanks.

    • MondayQB57

      This is where JT and I have a philosophical difference and it could
      reflect a difference in coaching philosophy between JT and coaches such
      as Pete Carroll. We can always use a

      little motivation at any given time.

      A quote from the San Jose Mercury:

      “Tedford said the Bears don’t need extra motivation.”

      “That was two years ago. Really this is about how have we prepared, how are

      we going to execute,” he said. “We’re very ready. We’re as ready as we can

      be without playing a game.”

      By the way, Tedford has his home up for sale. $5.3 million.

    • loverpoint

      Cal has had quite a few players make it to the pros and most of them have done better in the pros than they did in college, usually the opposite is true. Cal still has better talent than most of the Pac-12 I’d put them around 4-5. It is the coach that does not game plan well, he does no utilize all the team talent that is recruited. And most noticeably, which could fall under game planning, He does not get his team up and motivated on road games, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard announcers say ” Cal seems sluggish in the 1st half……maybe they haven’t woke up yet.

  • f this

    PATHETIC. I want Tedford OUT!

    • loverpoint

      Thing are about to get really ugly at Cal. He may be the winningest coach all time at Cal but in the end people will only remember Tedfords selfish greed. The only way that fans will be able to send the message to Tedford to quit is by booing him every time he sets foot in the stadium and maybe he will step down voluntarily. 2015 seems so far away in order to fire Tedford. Knowing Barbour, she will fire Tedford in his last year so he can collect the additional $5 million guarantee if he is fired.

      • dah end

        1-3 first month – 4-8 season at best . Take it to the bank.