PASADENA -- After an embarrassing loss in a season that may end without a bowl berth for the second consecutive year, it may be time for Cal coach Jeff Tedford to make some changes, starting with his quarterback.
Junior Zach Maynard was intercepted four times -- three times by safety Tevin McDonald -- in an uninspiring 31-14 loss to UCLA in front of 55,604 at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Cal (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) needs to win two of its final four games to become bowl-eligible, and it may not happen with Maynard running the offense.
Sophomore Allan Bridgford, who has yet to take a meaningful snap in a game in his career, is Maynard's backup.
"We'll see," Tedford said. "We'll look at the tape and make a determination with that." After back-to-back below-par performances against Oregon and USC, Maynard played well in a win over Utah on Oct. 22. But Saturday marked his worst performance of the season. In addition to the interceptions, he was wildly inaccurate on several other throws. He finished 14 for 30 for 199 yards.
"It's Coach Tedford's decision," Maynard said. "I'm not the head coach. I'm just going to perform to the best of my abilities, practice hard and get ready for the next opponent."
The Bruins (4-4, 3-2) entered the game reeling after a 48-12 loss at Arizona in which a benches-clearing brawl resulted in six players getting suspended for the Cal game. UCLA seemed to be emotionally charged from the outset, and the Bears couldn't match the Bruins' intensity.
UCLA entered ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing an average of 436.1 yards per game. But Cal amassed just 333 yards, and some of that came after the game was no longer in doubt.
UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince shredded Cal's defense, rushing for 163 yards as he repeatedly got around the edge with ease. Prince was averaging just 14.4 rushing yards per game, and the Bears had the fourth-best run defense in the conference at 115.6 yards allowed per contest. The Bruins also were playing without three of their top four receivers because of the suspensions.
"All week coaches told us that with the situation UCLA was in, they were going to come out fighting with a nothing-to-lose mentality," Cal safety Sean Cattouse said. "We knew we were going to get their best shot. I don't think we took them for granted, but we could have raised our level of play a little more."
The Bears' only two touchdowns came after UCLA turnovers gave them excellent field position. Cornerback Steve Williams forced a Prince fumble in the first quarter, which was recovered by linebacker Dan Camporeale at the Bruins 30. Five plays later, tailback Isi Sofele scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
UCLA tied it on an 11-yard scoring run by Johnathan Franklin in the second quarter, and Maynard's first interception led to a 32-yard field goal by Tyler Gonzalez for a 10-7 lead. Maynard appeared to substantially overthrow wide receiver Keenan Allen on the interception.
Sofele fumbled on a botched handoff exchange on Cal's next possession, and the Bruins recovered. It led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Derrick Coleman to make it 17-7 at halftime.
The Bears seemed to generate momentum early in the third quarter after UCLA's Jordan James muffed a punt and Cal's D.J. Campbell recovered. C.J. Anderson scored from 1 yard to cut the deficit to 17-14.
Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 42-yard field goal attempt that would have tied it late in the third, and Maynard was intercepted on each of the Bears' next three possessions. One went through the hands of Allen, and the others were simply off the mark.
"I have to get better," Maynard said. "I have to stop making mistakes. I'll look at the film, get better and get ready for next week."
Cal's next two games are at home, against Washington State and Oregon State. The Bears end the season with tough road assignments at Stanford and Arizona State.
"It's a reality check," Cal defensive end Trevor Guyton said. "Maybe we got too high on ourselves after that Utah win, and we got brought back to earth pretty quick. We got embarrassed by a team like this. It's a game we definitely should have won."