Maynard Mondays Week 5: Sack Maynard’s performance leads to a larger question

Sack — ahem, we mean Zach —  Maynard gets helped up by a teammate on Saturday.
Sack — ahem, we mean Zach — Maynard gets helped up by a teammate on Saturday.

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So, Cal is now 1-4 on the season (0-2 in the Pac-12) after losing a game that it desperately needed to win.

But here’s the catch: did you see the way that team played on Saturday against Arizona State? Sure, Cal needed the win, but with a performance like that it certainly didn’t deserve the “W.”

Memorial Stadium watched in stunned and disbelieving rancor as the Bears racked up the penalty yards against the Sun Devils. It was a free-for-all. Flags on flags. Twelve penalties for 119 whopping yards. Refs dropped ‘em like it’s hot.

Yet Maynard Mondays is not a team-wide scrutiny hour. It’s a close examination at the supposed leader of this program. No, we’re not talking about Jeff Tedford (though we wouldn’t be surprised if he shaved a few dollars off his house’s asking price this week).

We’re talking Zach Maynard.

Or should we say, Sack Maynard.

Yes, folks, you read that pun correctly. Mr. Maynard tallied a beatdown-worthy seven sacks for a loss of 54 yards. If his ears weren’t ringing and his head wasn’t spinning after a day like that, then he at least got off a little better than his half-brother, Keenan Allen, who threw up during the game.

But this one isn’t entirely Maynard’s fault. We’re going to venture so far as to say it’s not even mostly his fault. Yes, his pocket presence will always require polish. Sure, when he rolls out you can hear the collective intake of breath echo across the stands. Fine, his scrambles rarely result in big plays.

This time around, Maynard can’t be held responsible. What he needed was support from his offensive line, which was nowhere to be seen for the second week in a row.

The line turned in a lackluster and slightly alarming performance against USC last weekend. That trip to Los Angeles resulted in nine sacks. It was a warning bell, a cause for concern.

But it shouldn’t have happened again.

And it did. Where was Maynard’s coverage? He’s not a strong enough quarterback to withstand that constant pressure, and he shouldn’t have to.

But there’s a larger question at stake here. On Saturday, the question wasn’t about whether or not the offensive line showed up. It wasn’t about whether or not Maynard would display grace under pressure. It wasn’t even about whether or not the Bears could turn their season around and grasp at that last wisp of a bowl dream.

The question was thus: What on earth is happening to this team? And why are we all forced to watch it crumple before our eyes like Maynard beneath a sack?