Zach Maynard might not feel much love from Cal fans right now, but his teammates and coach went to great lengths Wednesday to back the struggling quarterback.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford confirmed that Maynard would start Saturday against Washington State, even though backup Allan Bridgford is receiving more snaps than usual this week with the first-team offense.
Tedford declared the starting quarterback job an open competition Sunday between Maynard, the junior who has combined for eight turnovers (seven interceptions) in the Bears' past two losses, and Bridgford, a redshirt sophomore.
As recently as Tuesday, Tedford left the door open to making a switch.
But after Wednesday's practice, Tedford said Maynard is his guy and added that Maynard shouldn't shoulder all the blame when Cal struggles offensively.
"No one is perfect. Aaron Rodgers isn't out here, all right?" Tedford said in reference to the former Cal star. "If (Maynard) misses a ball here or there, it happens. Aaron Rodgers plays for the Green Bay Packers. He's the only one I know that's close to perfect."
Cal doesn't need Maynard to play like a Super Bowl MVP, but the Bears do need him to avoid game-changing mistakes against Washington State, which ranks ninth in the Pac-12 in pass defense (261.5 yards per game).
And while Maynard isn't expected to be another Rodgers, he is studying film of NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees, as well as -- believe it
Maynard said he's studying "a lot of guys with kind of high postures who like to stand up tall and throw the ball. They're pocket passers, and that's what I need to work on the most, being in the pocket."
Meanwhile, some of his teammates took to Twitter this week to respond to fan criticism as the Bears have lost four of their past five. Maynard has been a popular target.
This tweet Sunday came from receiver Keenan Allen, who happens to be Maynard's half-brother:
"Hero when its all good, but when (stuff) goin bad you are the only one to be blamed. Jus make sure yall don't jump on the bandwagon when its good."
Allen expanded Wednesday on the criticism he's heard of Maynard.
"It definitely does (upset me), knowing that it's not all his fault," Allen said. "People in the stands, people in the media aren't able to see the film after the game and know what really happens during a play."
Running back C.J. Anderson also came to Maynard's defense on Twitter.
"It's easy to place blame on the quarterback because he's in the spotlight," receiver Michael Calvin said. "When you step into the film room, you start to see that it's not just one man."
Maynard's 10 interceptions are second-most in the Pac-12 behind Oregon State freshman Sean Mannion (13), and Maynard's passing efficiency rating of 121.31 ranks 11th in the conference among quarterbacks who have played at least six games.
Tedford said Maynard has showed good decision-making and accuracy in practice this week, but he wants Maynard to shake off outside criticism.
"It's part of learning the position to play quarterback," Tedford said. "When a day doesn't go well, everybody has an opinion."
Washington State (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12) at Cal (4-4, 1-4) at AT&T Park, 3:30 p.m. CSNCA