No one’s giving the shaky Cal Bears much of a chance to upset the dominant Oregon Ducks this weekend, and the Bears’ hopes of shocking the world are even slimmer with backup quarterback Allan Bridgford expected to start in place of the injured Zach Maynard.
Maynard, a senior, sprained his knee during last Friday’s game against Washington. He had an MRI which didn’t reveal any ligament damage, but he did not practice this week and was in a brace on Thursday.
After practice on Thursday, Cal coach Jeff Tedford wouldn’t rule Maynard out entirely, telling reporters: “Most likely if he’s ready to play, he’ll be there for a backup-type role. Most likely Bridgford will start.”
Bridgford, a fourth-year junior, has appeared sparingly this season, but Saturday’s game would be his second start of the year. Bridgford also started the season opener against Nevada when Maynard was held out for skipping a tutoring session. He’s had more time to prepare for this one, having worked with the first-team offense in practice all week.
Bridgford is 4 of 16 for 32 yards on the year and has a career completion percentage of 35.4%.
His stats are paltry compared to the quarterback on the other side of the field, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. The Ducks’ redshirt freshman is fifth in the nation, with a 70.5% completion percentage.
Bridgford, more of a true pocket passer than Maynard, says he’s not phased.
“It would be different if it were my first time playing a college football game but it’s not. I’ve played a number of games,” he pointed out after practice Tuesday.
Over the last two seasons, Bridgford is 17 of 48 for 216 yards.
His biggest advantage, going up against one of the nation’s best teams, is that no one expects much from the backup quarterback on a 3-7 team.
Bridgford will be without the team’s leading receiver, Keenan Allen, who will miss his second-straight game with a knee injury. True freshman receiver Bryce Treggs is also questionable for the game with an injury, and senior right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin, who injured his knee last week against Washington, is doubtful.
Cal’s coaches have said they just want Bridgford to play his game and protect the football, which might be tough to do if the offensive line’s protection continues to be as shoddy as it has been all season.
“I’m not overly nervous,” Bridgford said. “I’m just ready to have fun and waiting to have my shot.”
From the looks of it, that’ll be this weekend against Oregon.