One revelation at practice today was that quarterback Zach Maynard suffered a quad contusion early on against Oregon and played with it the rest of the game.
Coach Jeff Tedford implied it was a minor injury and not serious enough to remove him from the game. But wide receiver Keenan Allen, Maynard’s half-brother, said Maynard told him it did limit him to an extent.
“He said he couldn’t throw off his foot. That’s why his passes were off,” Allen said. “He tried to make the best of it. He definitely wanted to fight through it and help us out.
In an interview immediately after the game and also after practice yesterday, Maynard made no mention of the injury, likely because he didn’t want it to be perceived as an excuse. Tedford said Maynard has been fine so far this week at practice.
Tedford said he was already thinking of replacing Maynard with Allan Bridgford early in the fourth quarter because of the lopsided score and that decision became easy when Maynard took a hard hit and “was kind of fuzzy,” according to Tedford.
“When Zach got hit, you want him to play through it and keep competing, but at that point it was good to get Bridge some turns and not let him take any more hits,” Tedford said.
Tedford took out more starters in the final minutes of the Oregon game to avoid unnecessary injuries.
“At that point, when there are a couple minutes to play, if you keep Keenan in the game and something happens to him, you shoot yourself,” Tedford said.
Tight end Spencer Ladner practiced today for the first time in weeks. The junior has been plagued by injuries throughout his Cal career. He is coming off two knee surgeries.
Tedford said Ladner is available this week but Anthony Miller and Spencer Hagan will continue to go 1-2 on the depth chart.
“Hagan has done a great job,” Tedford said. “It really hasn’t affected much. It just gives us more depth.”
One potentially very entertaining element to Thursday’s game against USC is the showdown of Allen and Robert Woods at wide receiver. Both are sophomores and regarded currently as the top two receivers in the Pac-12. Woods leads the conference and is tied for the national with 11.0 receptions per game while Allen is second in the Pac-12 and tied for 11th nationally at 7.8. Woods also is the conference leader with 149.4 receiving yards per game (tied for second nationally) while Allen is second in the Pac-12 at 133.6 (sixth in the nation).
Allen and Woods met at a high school All-American game but haven’t kept in touch since.
“I am definitely looking forward to it,” Allen said. “He’s a great athlete. We’re both good athletes. It’s going to be a great show.”
Allen also said he expects Maynard to bounce back from a disappointing performance against Oregon.
“I definitely expect the most out of Zach this game, coming off the last game,” Allen said. “I’m always going to expect a lot from him because he’s my brother. He’s a quarterback so he has to let stuff go. I didn’t ask him about the (Oregon) game. I didn’t want him thinking about it. You have to move on to the next week.”
When asked about Maynard’s passing efficiency — which is 128.9, 10th in the Pac-12 — Tedford pointed out that the Bears have been throwing the ball down field this season, which might be a cause for increased inefficiency. Maynard is averaging 14 yards on his 92 completions this season, the second-highest average in the conference.
That’s not what many expected from Maynard, who was billed as a dual-threat quarterback who was going to give a boost to the offense with his quick feet and escapability. Maynard has flashed that ability at times, but so far the Bears don’t seem to have made his athleticism a focus.
“He’s made some plays scrambling out and throwing the ball,” Tedford said. “To utilize him out in space, it depends on who you are playing and what you are doing.”