Well, look who’s Zach
On Zach Maynard’s first pass attempt of Saturday’s win, he threw to a double-teamed Keenan Allen and was picked off. It seemed like it would be a long night for the Bears against a ranked UCLA squad.
“I should have just thrown out of bounds,” Maynard said. “I just had to shake it off.”
And shake it off he did, as Maynard rebounded from the initial setback to play perhaps his best game in a Cal uniform. In leading Cal to the 43-17 shocking rout, Maynard completed 25-of-30 passes for 295 yards. He accounted for five touchdowns, four in the air and one on the ground.
As head coach Jeff Tedford left the postgame interview room, he gave his senior signal-caller a hug. He was equally complimentary on Sunday.
“I thought he was really sharp, he was accurate, managed the pocket well, ran for first downs when he needed to,” Tedford said. “He stayed poised in the pocket … he stood in there and took some hits yesterday.”
The Bears generally gained positive yardage on first downs, keeping the offense out of third and longs and allowing Maynard to throw quick passes and avoid the defensive pressure that had hounded him and his offensive line as of late (22 sacks in the previous three games). As a result, the Bears were 6-for-11 on third downs on Saturday.
But Maynard wasn’t just throwing screens and curls; he stepped into several throws for long completions, especially to Richard Rodgers, who had a coming out party with seven catches for 129 yards.
Maynard had passes of 42 and 50 yards to Rodgers. His 34-yard bullet midway through the third quarter hit Allen in stride for a touchdown and put the Bears up by 15.
His performance was a complete role reversal from last year’s game against the Bruins, when Maynard threw four interceptions in an embarrassing loss. He was on point on 83.3 percent of his passes, a stark contrast from last week’s 9-for-28 effort (32.1 percent).
Throughout his career, Maynard has played well in spurts — his game against Ohio State, for instance, was exceptional until his game-ending interception. Consistency has been an issue from both quarter to quarter and game to game. The question is whether Maynard and the Cal offense will continue their newfound success on next week’s trip to Washington State.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
It is not uncommon for brothers to play on the same college team; it is pretty rare for those brothers to be the quarterback and star receiver.
Allen treasures playing on the same team as Maynard, but that’s not to say it isn’t awkward for them to go to school together.
It’s strange for Allen to see Maynard on campus and get their pictures taken together, especially when those fans taking the picture have no clue the players are related.
While we at the sports desk are big fans of Maynard’s mohawk, it is a little too crazy for Allen’s taste. “I want him to cut it, cut it down or something,” Allen says.
As quarterback, Maynard often has to lead team meetings and give speeches, during which Allen feels unnecessarily uncomfortable.
“Anytime Zach has to say something out loud in front of everybody, I get nervous,” Allen says. “Just because, if he messes up, I’m like, ‘Ah Shit. It’s on me.’”
Coming in as a transfer, Maynard was not expected to start, certainly not for two whole seasons. So while Allen is happy for his brother and supportive of him, he does not shy from giving him constructive criticism.
“I feel like any time he doesn’t throw me the ball and it’s an incomplete pass, I tell him, ‘Hey, Zach, throw me the ball. I’m open, dude,’” Allen said.
It’s hard to imagine Maynard heard any complaints from Allen after throwing just five incompletions in Saturday’s 26-point win.
Jonathan Kuperberg covers football. Contact him at [email protected]