Their Friday night battle with the University of Washington Huskies already looked like trouble with the news that Keenan Allen (left) would miss this game and at least one more with a knee injury. Things only got worse on the Bears’ final drive, when Zach Maynard tucked the ball to run and got his left knee rolled by linebacker John Timu.
Maynard spent several minutes on the ground being attended to by the Bears’ training staff before he was helped off, putting no weight on his leg. No more than five plays later, right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin came out of a scrum with a knee injury of his own.
Summers-Gavin is a loss that will hurt an already porous Cal offensive line which ranks dead last in the FBS for sacks allowed with 36 and second-to-last in tackles for a loss with 72. He missed two games early in the season with a knee injury, and he’ll likely miss next week’s game against Oregon as well.
The more significant injury, of course, is Maynard. Down by eight, Allan Bridgford stepped in for him in the final drive to try to put Cal in the end zone. Bridgford completed only 2-of-7 passes for 26 yards, and although both completions kept the drive alive on third down, he looked wildly inaccurate. Ultimately, the Bears came up short 21-13 when his final two passes fell incomplete. Cal dropped to 3-5 (2-4 in the PAC-12) with their third straight conference loss.
Maynard will undergo an MRI to diagnose the extent of the injury and his status is unknown at this point, but all signs point to the starting quarterback sitting out against the Ducks.
Quarterback and coach, forever linked
The big question on every Cal fan’s mind is whether head coach Jeff Tedford will continue to man a team that has deteriorated over the last few years.
Often touted as a coach with a great eye for quarterbacks, Tedford has seen little success at the position since Aaron Rodgers left for the NFL. Zach Maynard is his last protégé, and the most controversial as well due to the lefty’s family ties to top flight wideout Keenan Allen. It is widely believed that Tedford recruited Maynard so that Allen would come to Cal, a decision that could ultimately sign his pink slip. These last two seasons with Maynard have been proof that, although a good quarterback can make a wide receiver better, the inverse isn’t always so.
Despite the fact that California’s flaws run much deeper than the position of quarterback (see the aforementioned offensive line troubles), Maynard has not been able to get the team over the hump of mediocrity and therefore Tedford has failed to as well. Even with the newly renovated stadium and facilities, this year hasn’t given fans, donors and boosters any reason for optimism. As a result, Tedford may receive his walking papers in the form of an expensive buyout.
— A football game did get played Friday night, albeit an ugly one. Both teams weren’t too keen on ball control, as they combined to fumble ten times, losing eight of them. Each team committed four turnovers apiece.
— Per John Breech of CBS Sports, Nine of the 18 players who touched the football on Friday night fumbled.
— Washington running back Bishop Sankey and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins absolutely killed the Bears’ defense. Sankey carried the ball 29 times for 189 yards (6.5 AVG) and two touchdowns. Seferian-Jenkins caught eight passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
— If I could hand out a game ball in a loss, it would go to Cal linebacker Nick Forbes, who recovered two fumbles and added an interception.
— The Bears’ turnover differential may have been even, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. They drove deep into Husky territory on their first two drives, but running backs Isi Sofele and Brendan Bigelow both fumbled to end the marches.
— Seferian-Jenkins was a horrible mismatch for Cal cornerback Steve Williams. At 6-6, the tight end had a solid eight inches on 5-10 Williams, and it showed on the touchdown that the Husky caught, a jump ball that Williams didn’t stand a chance of defending.
— Chris Harper became a favorite target for Maynard – for the little time that the quarterback played without Allen, that is. Harper hauled in seven catches for 101 yards.
— Harper and Bridgford will need to develop that same kind of chemistry really quickly if they want to keep up with the high-flying Oregon Ducks next week.
— Shawn Hochuli was the head linesman for the game, and you know what that means: lots of penalties, ample explanations and a second play-by-play man on the field.
— Does anyone else find Shawn’s desire to be exactly like his dad kind of creepy?
— With the loss, Cal is officially eliminated from bowl eligibility for the second time in three years. “The bowl game situation is obviously disappointing,” Tedford said. “It is not something we are used too.”