Dear Cal coaching staff,
Stop making Zach Maynard something he isn't.
If you want the biggest indictment of Jeff Tedford the past few years, it's been the failure to develop quarterbacks that can execute the gameplans he wants, and more importantly the failure to cater to his quarterback's strengths. The execution stuff happens from time to time (like Riley going Section Eight against these Trojans a few years back), but the latter part is worrisome, particularly when winnable games seem to just fall apart when they're there for the taking.
So you can imagine my chagrin when Cal's offensive gameplan this Saturday involved making Zach Maynard a pocket passer and forced him to attempt throws that he's subpar to downright poor at trying to complete.
It's one thing to force him to sit back and throw quick and decisively, but forcing him into constant drops in the pocket when we're playing four new offensive linemen invited disaster. Maynard went back and got drilled over and over. There was Maynard going back into the pocket, seeing nothing open downfield, freezing, refusing to scramble, and eventually getting blasted by Morgan Breslin or some Trojan cohort.
As for the throws, they made sense theoretically; it was a sound gameplan to attack the Tampa 2 in the holes. But only a pro-style QB can really excecute those throws, and there's nothing pro-style at all about Maynard. He has never hit those throws with regularity, and the USC defense just dug in and waited for mistakes to be made.
There was Maynard trying to throw a flag route. It floated by about ten yards and drifted right into Jawanza Starling's hands.
There was Maynard trying to hit a streak route up the middle to Keenan Allen and missing him by about ten years (or yards, doesn't really matter, we're in the 4th dimension of Cal football here). I'm not sure about you, but I'm pretty certain Maynard has about a 5% completion rate trying to put the ball in front of his receiver. These are numbers I produced with the sarcastic part of my brain that constantly collapses in on itself.
There was Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs standing alone in the end zone, waiting for the football to be thrown their way. Maynard couldn't find them. He'd already locked into his first read.
There was Maynard locking in on C.J. Anderson for about ten seconds, waiting until he was all the way to the sideline, letting T.J. McDonald sneak in for the faithful pick.
Look, it might look like an easy throw to you or me, but that's not an easy throw for Zach. He just doesn't possess the type of vision necessary to find the open man downfield, and his accuracy is pretty scattershot even when he does go that far. His consistency goes way down past 15 yards, and forcing him to adapt on the move past his first or second read just isn't in his arsenal. And at this point I doubt he'll ever totally improve.
That doesn't mean he can't be an effective QB; there are plenty of weapons on this team that can complement him. He just doesn't have to be the focal point.
A concerned fan
SB Nation Snippet
HydroTech of the California Golden Blogs in his postgame thoughts:
I think a lot of our players (especially Maynard) were trying a bit too hard out there. I'm not saying the guys should be giving less than 100%. But that they're giving 110%, and they want to score and win so bad, that they can sometimes do things with the ball that perhaps they shouldn't. Maynard's INT along the sidelines, for example. I know he's trying to make a play. I know he wants to score and win. But that was such a tight throw to make that it probably shouldn't have been attempted. (Of course had it been completed I probably wouldn't be writing this!) Maynard did complete a across-the-grain pass on a rollout to either Harper/Treggs (can't remember) which is a huge QB-no-no. Yeah, it was complete, but I know Tedford was probably shaking his head after that play.