A year ago, Zach Maynard was a punchline. But despite his inconsistencies, the brother of star wide receiver Keenan Allen posted nearly 3,000 yards and put himself in some pretty exclusive company with famed Cal quarterbacks of the past.
This year, Maynard leads an offense predicated on establishing the run in order to get the ball to their extremely talented wideouts. Maynard has averaged 251 yards per game over the first three weeks, completing two-thirds of his pass attempts, a sign that he’s turned the corner with hopes of becoming among the conference’s top quarterbacks.
Nonetheless, a late Maynard interception sealed the Bears’ fate against Ohio State in Columbus, as Cal squandered chances to put the Buckeyes away in what would have been another unranked Pac-12 victory over a ranked Big Ten team.
In the 35-28 loss, Cal dominated the line of scrimmage, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, as Brenden Bigelow and Isi Sofele combined to run for 250 yards on 25 carries, with Bigelow scoring twice.
Bigelow’s 80-yard touchdown run against Ohio State was a top play and rightfully so, as the back alluded defenders, took hits and still found a way to get to the outside and streak down the sideline for six. While Sofele is the featured back, the emergence of Bigelow allows Cal’s running game to fill out into a more well-rounded running attack. Sofele has 219 yards so far for the season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
Where Cal excels in his their passing game, as the Golden Bears not only have an All-American caliber receiver in Keenan Allen, but two hot-shot true freshman in Chris Harper and Byrce Treggs. Treggs, a 5-star out of St. John Bosco was the jewel of Jeff Tedford’s class, and the compact speedster has grabbed nine catches, while former 3-star Harper is second the team in receptions with 15.
Against the Trojans, expect Jeff Tedford to try and exploit the USC defense in the same way Stanford did, but running up the gut and right at the young defensive line, in hopes of getting T.J. McDonald to come up as a fourth linebacker and going over the top to Keenan Allen when opportunities arise.
WR Keenan Allen #21
LT Tyler Rigsbee #77
LG Jordan Rigsbee #73
C Brian Schwenke #57
RG Chris Adcock #58
RT Bill Tyndall #79
TE Richard Rodgers #11
WR Bryce Treggs #1
QB Zach Maynard #15
FB Eric Stevens #48
RB Isi Sofele #20