Cal quarterback Zach Maynard's inconsistency with accuracy turned into consistent inaccuracy during a 43-15 loss at Oregon. The question now is whether that was the beginning of a trend or the product of circumstance.
While Maynard's efficiency could have been better through the first four games, it was good enough to help the Bears to a 3-1 start. Part of his success was because of his poise and confidence in stressful situations.
Against the Ducks on Thursday, Maynard appeared to get caught up in the environment and the pace of the game. He completed just 20 of 41 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown, missing badly on several throws.
"He was a little jittery, and it caused him to miss a couple throws where we had some guys open," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "I think he rushed himself a little bit. Things are moving pretty quick. Those are all learning experiences, feeling the pace of the game and the speed of the game and how much time you actually have. I think the pace of the game was probably faster last week than it had been."
Maynard and the Bears will be on ESPN for the second Thursday night in a row this week, but this time it will be a home game at AT&T Park against USC. Maynard said he exhibited poor footwork against Oregon because he was moving too fast.
"It was just me trying to anticipate something that's not really there," he said. "I was kind of off."
Maynard ranks 10th in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency (128.9) and completion percentage (51.4 percent). The good news is he has thrown just three interceptions against 11 touchdown passes.
"It's something he can improve on, no doubt about it," Tedford said. "He made a lot of really good plays, too. He just has to be more consistent, and that comes over time and game experience."
Cal has had three road games (against Colorado, Washington and Oregon), one neutral-site game (Fresno State at Candlestick Park) and one home game (Presbyterian College).
"I haven't really thought about it that much, because it is what it is," Tedford said. "You can't spend time making excuses about it. You still have to play, and that's the mindset we've had. Settling into a home field will be nice, because we have been traveling a lot."
As of Friday, Thursday's game was nearly sold out, with just a small number of limited view or obstructed seats still available.