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Football: Postgame recap of Cal’s 31-28 loss to Stanford

I see there’s some encouragement from the fan base over the Bears’ effort in a 31-28 loss to Stanford on Saturday night. It was a solid effort by Cal, no doubt. After Andrew Luck found his rhythm in the third quarter, I thought a blowout was in the making. But the Bears jumped back in the game.

“We played a good game on both sides of the ball,” quarterback Zach Maynard said. “Stanford’s a great team and we couldn’t afford to make the mistakes we made. Other than that, we played a good game.”

A couple things to be encouraged about:

–Maynard turned in a pretty strong game, finishing 20 for 30 for two touchdowns and no interceptions. What a start to his game … he hit Keenan Allen for a 42-yard gain on the first play, and then made a bad pitch to Isi Sofele that Stanford recovered for a turnover. “That was just a bonehead play by me,” Maynard said. But he completed some big passes.

–Allen enjoyed an incredible first quarter, catching six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. He was everything that Stanford coach David Shaw feared he might be – an athletic downfield threat that Cardinal defensive backs would have trouble matching up against.

–Cal finishes out the regular season next week against an Arizona State team that is struggling. The Bears are 7-1 against the Sun Devils under Jeff Tedford.

A couple of things to be discouraged about:

–After the first quarter, Allen didn’t catch a single pass. In fact, Maynard threw his way just twice after halftime. Tedford said he didn’t think Stanford did anything specifically that took Allen out of the game. Maynard’s take: “Keenan’s a great receiver and they double- and triple-teamed him to keep him from getting the ball.”

–The defense played hard and came up with some big stops. But there were way too many Stanford receivers who broke free with no one around them, particularly fullback Ryan Hewitt, who continuously hurt the Bears by leaking out of the backfield for short passes and turning them into bigger gains.

–Cal has got to find a way to score touchdowns and not settle for field goals in the red zone. Two drives stalled inside Stanford’s 10-yard line in the first half, and those ended up being difference-makers …

Here’s a final version of the notebook I wrote for Sunday’s paper, focusing mainly on Allen.

That’s all for now …

Joe Stiglich