Football: Mike Pawlawski says O-line rates as more critical question than play of QB Maynard

Mike Pawlawski, who quarterbacked one of Cal’s greatest modern teams, said the Golden Bears’ prospects this season start with the performance offensive line, not Zach Maynard.

“For me as a quarterback, first and foremost is the offensive line. Always,” said Pawlawski, Cal’s starter in 1990 and ’91, who is returning to the radio booth as the team’s analyst this season.

“I want to see how the big boys up front are going to play. Those guys can do a good job — they don’t have to be great.” Pawlawski said. “If they can open holes for running game, that takes pressure off Zach and makes it easier for him.”

The Bears, who open their season Saturday at renovated Memorial Stadium against Nevada, feature three first-time starters in their offensive line and just one player — senior right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin — who is starting in the same position as a year ago.

Pawlawski, who led the Bears to a 10-2 record and No. 8 final AP ranking in 1991, believes Maynard will be more comfortable and more efficient as a second-year starter. He also said the guys up front will dictate much of that.

“Those guys matter first,” he said. “You put Joe Montana, Tom Brady or John Elway behind a poor offensive line and we wouldn’t be talking about their names in that echelon of quarterbacks. Name a great quarterback who played for years behind a bad offensive line — you can’t.”

Pawlawski said he’s eager to see how Maynard in his second season can maximize his natural gifts.

“He’s an elusive runner, a guy who can escape pressure. What a bonus to have a guy like that, who can make plays when he has to. That gives defensive coordinators fits,” Pawlawski said. “Last year he was just learning the game, coming into (coach) Jeff Tedford’s system.”

Pawlawski conceded that Tedford’s playbook is more detailed than what he had to learn under the late Bruce Snyder. That meant a tougher learning curve for Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo.

“Hopefully we watched the settling process last season,” Pawlawski said. “Toward the end of last season, he was much more accurate, wasn’t giving the the ball away.”

The year of experience should provide Maynard what Pawlawski refers to as  “The Matrix moment.”

“It’s like in the movie when everything slows down,” Pawlawski said. “At some point you start realizing the game you see on film is the same exact speed as the game you see on the field.

“You stop mystifying the game. You realize you have a little more time than you’re giving yourself. You’re making your reads a beat quicker, making your decisions quicker. That makes a huge difference for a quarterback.

“That’s what I’m looking for from him this year.”

— Once again, Pawlawski is following in the steps of his quarterback mentor,  Troy Taylor. Pawlawski returns to the Cal broadcast team, replacing Taylor as the analyst alongside veteran play-by-play man Joe Starkey.

As a player at Cal, Pawlawski watched Taylor for three seasons before taking the starting reins. “When it comes to understnading the game of football,  there aren’t many guys who were better than he was,” Pawlawski said of Taylor, who remains Cal’s career passing yardage leader. “He was an incredibly cerebral quarterback and that helped me a lot.”

Pawlawski called it “a blessing” to work with Starkey, beginning his 38th year as the voice of Cal football. “He and Lee Grosscup were really my mentors in broadcasting,” Pawlawski said. “To me, it’s not college football unless I’m listening to Joe Starkey.”

— Pawlawski said the new Memorial Stadium will be great for recruiting and for fans, calling the $321 million project “an incredible feat by the Cal family.”

He also said the building alone won’t win games.

“The guy I want to recruit,” he said, “is the guy who wants to play in the sandlot and still wants to win, period.”


Jeff Faraudo

  • MoreNCsarecoming


  • CalBearClaw

    I guess I should just pose this to you directly: Where does your all-consuming beef with Cal football originate? I’m actually curious. It’s just a peculiar institution to harbor such venom for. Do you stick pins into an Oski doll at night? It’s just odd. Enjoy your team, root against other teams, but man, take a breath once in awhile. We love our Bears. Would you prefer that we don’t? Anyway, those are my two cents.

  • discdude

    Seriously CBC, no one cares anymore…

    Install greasemonkey

    Then, install the userscript below and never read a word of what the troll posts again…I haven’t read a word in over 2 years.


    Almost everyone who’s been here a long time uses this. Ignoring the noise and not feeding the troll is the best action.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    #2 – CalBearClaw

    I will do this one last time.

    Daddy is a Cal alum and WAS until the past few years a big donor.

    We would attend all of the Berkley games but the team I became the most devoted to was USC. The tradition, the storied history, the fans and the great players just convinced me there was no other team I wanted to follow.

    I started on this site during one of the games between our schools and I just could not believe the vitrol, lies, innuendoes and rumors from this board and its posters. I decided to stay and defend the honor of SC.

    As long as the posters continue with their toxic comments I will continue with my presence.

    You should thank me now for what I have brought to this site. If it wasn’t for me there would be very little football discussion (which by the way is my beef with the Cal state fans). They are most ignorant of the lot.

    I should know. I attended nearly every game for almost 20 years (Bruce Snyder asked me to help out at one of the summer camps)and heard the dumbest comments from the fans.

  • CalBearClaw


    Anyway, I’ll be watching the game at Pacific Standard in Brooklyn, a true oasis for NYC Cal fans. Owned by a pair of alums, the spot imports Top Dogs and serves It’s Its on game days. All washed down by top brews from around the country. Needless to say, I can’t wait. Enjoy all.

  • Steve W

    Unless someone attended USC or lives down in So Cal, the only reason for someone to be a ardent fan of that team is to cover up their own shortcomings by latching on to a perennial winner. That’s where our feathered troll fits in, but his animus for Cal is something else altogther. He got hurt or spurned in some horrible way by the university. Perhaps a co-ed told him to buzz off when he asked for a date, or he was rejected for a sex change operation by the University’s medical school. He’s not talking, but it has nothing to do with his claims stated in the previous post.

  • CalBearClaw

    Wonderfully stated Steve.

    I completely understand the calls for categorically ignoring this entertaining mess of an individual but analyzing his hysterical outbursts can be quite gratifying on a sociological/psychological level.

    The disturbing “Daddy” references are ripe for scrutiny and analysis.

  • CalBearClaw

    1. USC has a better football program than Cal. I think we can all accept and absorb that fact without any profoundly damaging effect on our lives as proud Cal alums. Congrats, your kids chase a ball around better than our kids. Pat yourself on the back, you deserve it.

    2. We love our Bears and we always will. There is nothing like football season, there is nothing like Memorial, there is nothing like listening to the Play call on gameday morning to get fired up. Nothing will ever change anythis.

    So once these two facts are clearly understood then MoreVDscoming can be gawked at and lampooned without any loss to anyone. We essentially agree with his only premise and that premise has nothing to do with our devotion to our school.

  • CalBearClaw

    With that, I will let this matter rest. Unless of course I really enjoy a particularly silly MoreVDscoming post that requires analysis and evisceration.

  • daredevilfan

    You are being played like a fiddle. Please no responses to trolls. GO BEARS!

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    #9 – CBC

    Love your use of big words. That’s impressive.

    You seem to want to disturb other posters on this board. How about I make you the same deal I made MoreSanctions and BluenGold. You have less than 1 hour to put down your prediction for today’s UCB vs Nevada game. Predict the score perfectly and/or the total number of points. If you do I will leave this board for good. If you lose you leave.

    PS There is no need to use big words. You can say “I accept the bet and here will be the score and/or toal points” or you can say “I am a coward and do not accept the bet.”

    You have until 11:59 AM today to come thru.

    to all the rest: Have a good game and Go Pack Go!