Greetings folks. It’s Joe Stiglich, trying to get settled in as your Cal football beat writer for the time being. It’s my hope to get something posted a little earlier in the day when the Bears practice. Still working out the kinks here. At any rate, here’s a rundown of the day’s happenings, much of which (but not all) will be covered in tomorrow’s print story.
**The quarterback situation remains the dominant news surrounding this team, and Jeff Tedford made it clear Wednesday –once and for all – that incumbent Zach Maynard will be the starter for Saturday’s game against Washington State. Allan Bridgford has gotten more snaps than usual with the first-team offense (and Maynard with the second team), so that tells me that Tedford might have a quick hook should Maynard struggle early against the Cougars. But I can understand the logic of keeping Maynard in there. He’s a junior and still lacking substantial major college experience, so if you have any thought of the lefty also being the No. 1 guy next season, it makes sense to stick with him and see if he improves.
Tedford said Maynard has displayed better decision-making and accuracy in practice this week. The coach added: “No one is perfect. Aaron Rodgers isn’t out here, alright? So if (Maynard) misses a ball here or there, it happens. Aaron Rodgers plays for the Green Bay Packers. He’s the only one I know that’s close to perfect.” If that statement makes you yearn for the days when the Chico native was under center for Cal, you’re forgiven.
That quote was an indication that Tedford is irked by the criticism aimed at Maynard recently. But Tedford also added Maynard must understand it comes with the territory of playing quarterback. No doubt about it, this home stretch of the season is crucial for Maynard. He can work on mechanics (which he’s doing), he can watch film of other quarterbacks (which he’s doing, including Andrew Luck!!!). But developing mental toughness is something that has to come from within, and it’s key if he is to flourish in a Cal uniform.
Maynard said he’s shaken off whatever criticism is coming his way via Twitter and other outlets. “Twitter is twitter, it’s all media stuff,” he said. “Media doesn’t faze me at all. It’s hard to ignore that stuff. (But) you just keep playing ball. You just have to keep pushing through all that adversity.” Several of Maynard’s teammates have come to his defense, which I touch on in tomorrow’s story. Rallying around their quarterback seems to be a theme for the Bears this week.
**Cal receivers expect Washington State to play press coverage on the outside, and Keenan Allen thinks that gives he and his teammates a chance to shake free and have some big-play opportunities. And how would Allen respond in the event that Maynard, his half-brother, was benched in favor of Bridgford? “I play 110 percent no matter what,” Allen said.
**Tedford said Washington State (3-4, 1-4 Pac-12) should no longer be viewed as a conference doormat. He says their personnel has gotten better over the years, particularly on the offensive line and on defense. “I think their defense collectively is much better. They have better cover guys, they’re better up front,” Tedford said.
This story, however, from the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., paints a different picture of the Cougars’ defense.
That’s all for now …