Cal football: Zach Maynard underachieves again, but gameplan didn't help

Ezra Shaw - Getty Images

In the California Golden Bears 27-17 loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils, Jeff Tedford continued to place Zach Maynard in disadvantageous situations, and the entire passing game fell apart.

The California Golden Bears just keep on repeating mistakes in their offensive gameplanning, and they keep on putting Zach Maynard in positions where he can't be expected to succeed.

Many of the things that Maynard has to deal with, particularly bad pocket pressure and deficient snaps, would cause a lot of quarterbacks issues in the pocket. However he is a bit limited, so it requires a lot more coaching to get him in advantageous positions. Asking Maynard to constantly make throws that he isn't capable of handling with accuracy and command just doesn't sit right. Asking him to sit back in the pocket and get battered, bruised, and scrambling for his life seems like an absolutely recipe for failure.

Does that last paragraph sound familiar? It should. I wrote it last week. AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED (well, the snaps were better, but still. NOTHING HAS CHANGED).

The half-rollouts to get Maynard better vision and try and neutralize the pass rush? Gone. I think we had one, and it was great! So let's never do it again.

The constraint plays to stretch the field with longer WR screens or misdirection throws? Nope. Nada.

The passes out of I-formation to the fullback or an H-back/tight end to make the defense respect Out the window.

Max protect packages to help Maynard out in dropback situations? Nope, other than the occasional Sofele clearout, it was just five or six guys watching Will Sutton blast through and rock our quarterback unchained.

But shotgun five-step and seven-step dropback passing which force Maynard to survey the field, try and go through multiple reads with poor pocket protection! Oh man, we saw a lot of that. And boy was it awful to watch.

Tight end seam route up the middle? Overthrown into triple coverage. Wide receiver out/corner? Missed by miles on multiple occasions. Give him some deep routes down the sidelines? Out of bounds or way ahead of his man. Maynard seems like he's trying so hard to avoid an interception that he's just throwing the football out there and hoping that his receiver can catch up to it.

And it's even worse considering how bad the pocket protection has been. The Bears have allowed 4.4 sacks per game, tying us with Colorado (hi Steve Marshall!) for dead last in the country. Some of this is Maynard holding the ball too long, but most of it is to due to being straight out beat up front. There was very little adapting by the Bears here. Why would you make Maynard go back out there and get pinataed like that?

We basically saw the exact repeat of the offense we put up against USC that managed a grand total of nine points. If it weren't for a few monster plays by C.J. Anderson, Keenan Allen and Isi Sofele, Cal would have been shut out of the end zone again.

Where is the coaching staff getting this evidence that Maynard is suddenly able to make throws he has never, ever, once shown he's capable of completing with regularity, and particularly in a high-risk environment that will generally involve sacks? Don't they have 17 games of evidence that prove he'll never be comfortable going deep and vertical? Don't they know that he's better off with a moving pocket? Don't they realize he's better on the move? Shouldn't they cater to that?

Where were the adjustments? Can't the coaching staff come up with something that he's more comfortable with playing outside a few screen passes, like designed QB keepers or draws, etc.? Can't we come up with more dual-threat plays and give him a chance to make more plays with his feet instead of forcing him to deliberate?

Why is Cal forcing Maynard to drop back and throw so much? Where is the patience with the run game that Cal showed last November, when they pretty much ran Sofele and Anderson until they dropped? It isn't the greatest run game in the world, but the Bears are still generally sustaining drives with the ground game. They make a mistake and they seem to eventually slip back to dropback passing as early as 2nd down. Those isutations aren't advntaageous for a quarterback.

If the Cal offensive coaching staff is going to insist on a downfield passing attack to complement the run game, someone else needs to be asked to run it, because at this point there's very little to gain with Maynard still running it. A bowl game is almost out of reach and at 1-4 it's hardly likely to be anything worth of note. If Cal is going to trot out these gameplans that don't cater to Maynard's strengths, they need to find someone else who might have some potential to run it more effectively.

Because at this point, everytime Cal drops back and passes the football, the defense breathes a sigh of relief.

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