Oct. 13, 2011 was a night to forget for Cal quarterback Zach Maynard. He threw three interceptions and fumbled once en route to a 30-9 loss against Southern Cal.
But Maynard will get a chance for a do-over when the Bears (1-2) square off against the No. 13 Trojans (2-1) at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday at 3 p.m.
If there is a silver lining to Cal’s 35-28 loss at Ohio State last week it might be the poise Maynard showed under heavy pressure. With only one returning starter on the offensive line, Maynard was hit and hit hard throughout the day. But he still put up what might have been his best performance in a Bears uniform, completing 26-of-37 passes for 280 yards, one TD and one interception.
Coach Jeff Tedford said he expects to see more composure from Maynard against USC this time around now that he has a full year of Pac-12 Conference experience under his belt.
“I think he feels the speed of the game a little bit better,” he said.
Bam Bam Bigelow: Here’s one problem that Tedford doesn’t mind having: how to split the workload among three explosive running backs.
The Bears were already dividing carries between Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson when sophomore Brendan Bigelow popped off 81- and 59-yard touchdown runs against the Buckeyes.
Bigelow had surgeries on both knees in high school and is just now returning to top speed. Tedford said he plans to get him more involved this week.
“Getting all three of them in the rotation is a little bit difficult to do,” he said. “If you play three backs they’re not going to get 20 carries a piece, but it would be nice to have [Bigelow] touch it a few more times.”
To do list on the Farm: Stanford coach David Shaw is devoting his bye week to fine tuning the Cardinal’s offense. Despite a 21-14 victory over USC last week, Shaw said his team needs to improve its passing efficiency.
“We’ve got to be a 60 percent completion football team,” he said. “That’s the way we’re built.”
He said the offense needs to hit 6-foot-8 tight end Levine Toilolo more consistently when he’s in one-on-one coverage and also find a way to get the team’s wide receivers more involved.
Ty Montgomery and Drew Terrell have combined for only 16 catches and 185 yards this season.
“I don’t want them to get lost in the wash because we do feel we’re finally deep at receiver — we need to use those guys,” he said.
What’s next? No. 9 Stanford (3-0) isn’t basking in the glory of knocking off the No. 2 team in the country last week. It’s focused on the next task: winning at Washington on Sept. 27.
“Once you’ve accomplished something, great, what’s the next goal?” Shaw said.
He said the key to sustained success is indulging in the means, not just the ends.
“You have to enjoy the work. You have to enjoy the day-to-day stuff,” he said. “If you just enjoy the victories, but you don’t enjoy the work you won’t be good for very long.”
So when does Shaw allow himself to savor the fruits of his labor?