There is still no definitive word on whether senior starter Zach Maynard will be available to play quarterback for the Bears on Saturday night when they tackle No. 2 Oregon at Memorial Stadium.
Coach Jeff Tedford said Maynard — with a sprained left knee — is day to day.
In the meantime, junior backup Allan Bridgford said he will prepare as if he will be starting.
Because he very well could be.
Here’s what Bridgford had to say about the opportunity he may get this week:
What is your confidence level that you can lead the team?
“Very confident. I’ve never had a doubt in my mind I can get the job done and help us win football games.”
What have they told you about what might happen this week?
“Definitely wait and see. I have no idea what’s been going on with anything.”
Do you have to mentally prepare as if you might be starting?
“It won’t be any different this week. Every week I prepare like I’m the starter because one day you’re going to get that chance and you don’t want to miss it.”
During an average week of practice, how many reps do you get with the first-team?
So this could be a lot different?
Have you talked to Zach about how he’s feeling?
“A little bit. After a guy gets hurt, he doesn’t really want to talk about it that much. Don’t really have any thoughts on where that’s at.”
What things will be important for you to establish in practice if you’re working with the first team?
“Timing with receivers won’t be too big an issue because I do throw to them in other certain drills. Just having my presence out there with the 1s. I’ve done that plenty since I’ve been here. I’ve been on the field, been in the huddle with those guys.”
How do you think the freshmen wide receivers are playing?
“Awesome. If there’s a bright spot from the loss, it was definitely that those guys stepped up. You can see we have some really talented guys who are playing their ass off right now. They’re doing really well and they’re seizing their opportunity and I’m proud of those guys.”
If Zach cannot play the next two weeks, would you — besides trying to win these games — view this as sort of an audition to get a running start on the spring and winning the position for next season?
“Absolutely. No matter what, I’m going to prepare as hard as I can and do everything I can to help this football team win games. We’ve got a lot of pride to play for right now. Yeah, if I play it would be a big thing getting a jump-start, getting ready for next year.”
Given all the points Oregon scores, does that put even more pressure on the Cal offense to not only stay on the field as long as possible, but also produce points?
“You try not to think about that kind of stuff, but that does come in the picture. They do have a really good offense that scores a lot of points. So that means our offense has to score a lot of points. But the good thing about that is we do have the players. We have a lot of talent on offense.”
So is this not a game you guys — or any team – can probably win 21-18?
“Anything can happen. Two years ago when they came in they were averaging probably more points (54.7) than they’re averaging now (54.3) and we held them to 15 points. That’s not out of the question, but yes they are a very good offense and very high-scoring. It does put more pressure on offense. But it’s not something we think about during the week. We just think about executing. We want to go out and score 50 points every game if we can.”
What impresses you about their defense?
“They’re a fast defense. A good front, linebackers that can fly around and make plays. All their DBs seem very aggressive. They can make plays when the ball is in the air. It’s a really opportunistic defense that likes to get turnovers. It’s going to be a big challenge, but we’re up for it.”
Is it the ultimate challenge for your team?
“They’re the highest-ranked team we’ve played so far, so yeah in that respect they are. But the most important game of the season is the one you’re playing next. It just so happens they’re the No. 2 team in the country.”
You played quite a bit against Oregon last season (8 for 19 for 103 yards in the 43-15 loss). How does that help you this time?
“I watched that entire game today. They do a lot of the same stuff. I had some nice completions against them last year, but there was also some things I could have taken. They also played me a little different since it was the end of the game. They were dropping eight in the coverage. It’s going to be a lot different if I’m playing earlier and we’re not playing from behind, where they don’t have to worry about the run and play-action and all that kind of stuff that we do so well. What they did against me last year and what they do regularly is a lot different.”
If you are named the starter, how much different would it be for you knowing you’re going to play and not jump in there cold off the bench?
“Psychologically, your brain acts differently when you know you’re getting to start that week as opposed to when you’re second string and you know you’re not starting the game. But it’s fairly easy for anything to happen. You’re one play away from playing, like you saw last Friday night. Your body is getting ready for a fight either way.”