California Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford has done a great job of turning around the football program and throughout his tenure has recruited a number of talented players who have moved on to the NFL. But over the past three plus seasons, that has not translated to wins and the team is in danger of not making a bowl game for the third time in four years.
In this stretch, the quarterback play has been inconsistent and there’s been an unwillingness to make a change at quarterback starting with Nate Longshore, Kevin Riley and now Zach Maynard. Prior to this stretch, the strength of the team was the quarterback position with Kyle Boller, Aaron Rodgers and Longshore before he dealt with a number of leg injuries.
The Bears have a mobile quarterback, yet Tedford has not taken advantage of his strength to get him on the move and let him run with the football or throw on the run. Instead, he has been kept in the pocket and has been sacked 25 times in the first five games, so it’s not surprising that the team is off to a 1-4 start.
A telling stat against Arizona State on Saturday is that there were nearly as many sacks as completions. While the offensive line didn’t do a good job in protection, a number of the sacks were avoidable and showcases one of the weaknesses of Maynard. He doesn’t have good instincts, otherwise he would be able to feel the pressure and escape it either by throwing the ball away or running with it.
Besides lacking instincts, his footwork when he does get the chance to throw in the pocket is another weakness, which means he’s made a number of poor throws. That is why his completion percentage is at 57.6 percent. There was a chance to drive and tie up the game against Ohio State, yet he threw a game ending interception instead with the ball nowhere near his intended receiver.
With Isi Sofele, C.J. Anderson and Brendan Bigelow at running and at wide receiver Keenan Allen, Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs, the offense has weapons. The only question is there a quarterback on the roster that can produce consistently? Does that mean replacing Maynard or does it mean a willingness to use his athleticism?
If Tedford truly believes this team will make a bowl game, he will need to do his best coaching job because five out of the next seven games are against ranked teams and the two teams that aren’t ranked are the only winnable games. That means a 3-9 record at the end of the season.
The only reason he has not been fired yet is because of his contract, which runs until 2015 and doesn’t have a buyout.
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