With his team now off to a career worst 1-4 start, California coach Jeff Tedford addressed the media again on Sunday, fielding questions about a possible quarterback change, pass protections, and whether or not he feels any additional pressure to perform.
While it has been no secret that quarterback Zach Maynard has struggled recently, Coach Tedford denied that he was considering a change under center, saying, "[Not] as of right now. But each game's different. We'll see. [That] kind of goes with every position."
Tedford defended his quarterback's performance, saying that Maynard mostly needed to be more consistent. "Week to week, it's all different. The consistency factor has to be there. You've watched him for two years – there's some real hot, and some cold."
"He does give you a dimension with his legs that the other guys don't. After Ohio State, it was ‘he's played the best game he's ever played'. It's a consistency factor."
As to whether or not Maynard had the arm to hit some of his open receivers down field, Tedford said that Maynard, "could hit the routes. Of course he can hit the routes."
"Zach's capable of making any throw on the field. I think we've all seen him make numerous throws. They just have to be in his read progression."
Part of Maynard's struggles has been due to an offensive line that has given up an astounding 25 sacks in the last three games. On Sunday, Tedford emphasized again that the responsibility for that was not just due to the starting unit up front.
"It's running backs, tight ends, and five other guys up there. That guy [Arizona State defensive tackle] Will Sutton was a pretty good player. When we got one-on-one matchups on him, we held our own a lot of the times, but it sticks out now and then that he's going beat you one-on-one."
Another part of the team's offensive struggles, Tedford said, begin on first and second down, where negative plays or penalties sap the momentum of drives.
"It's not just one thing. We've had some negative gains when we run the ball. If we happen to throw a ball, it goes incomplete or is dropped on first or second down, and now we're in third and ten. We had a couple of those."
"It could be a holding call that brings you back, or something like that."
While some have suggested that the team could help Maynard out with a shorter passing game, Tedford explained that the team's constant third and longs make that difficult.
"If you're in third and four, you can throw quick passes. If you're in third and twelve, and you throw a four or five yard pass, you ask, what are you doing throwing that?"
The team's new no-huddle pace doesn't seem to be a factor as Tedford said, "I don't think that has anything to do with [our offensive struggles] necessarily. The procedure is fine."
With the team now into a potential tailspin and desperately needing wins, Tedford also spoke about how he was responding to the losing streak, and the message given to the team.
"We all look in the mirror about what we can do – coaches, players, everybody. We've been in the game – four of the games – in the fourth quarter. We've got to continue to improve and get over the hump in the fourth quarter. Of course we didn't envision being here. But now, the true character comes out."
"There'll be a lot of nay-sayers – not that there's anything wrong with that, but we have to bond together and work hard each day to get better. There are seven conference games left. We'll take them one game at time, and keep improving one week at a time."
"I told them today, tough times don't last, tough people do. We need to pull together; we need to make sure our true character shows, stay together, work hard. That's the only way to approach it."
As to the negative press, Tedford said, "I know it's out there. I'm kind of in my cocoon here, so I try not to pay attention to it. That's not going to help me or the team, really, with me sitting around here thinking about that or focusing on that or wasting energy thinking that. We're going to work hard our hardest. I love this program. I love this place. We work very hard here; we continue to work very hard here."
"No one would be happy with where we are right now, so I don't blame anyone for being unhappy about it – I'm not happy with it either. But I can't sit around worrying about what other people are thinking. That's not going to change the way I conduct my day."
- Outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett was spotted Sunday with a cast on his broken left hand, but will play through the injury. Jacob Wark is day-to-day.
- Matt Summers-Gavin, making his first start since suffering a knee injury several weeks ago "competed", but was "a little rusty" according to Tedford.
- Khairi Fortt has not begun practicing yet, and the team will soon decide on whether or not to redshirt him.
- The team does expect Dominic Galas back before the end of the season.
- On freshmen receivers Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper, who have been quiet recently, Tedford said that they have to continue to catch the ball, run the right routes, and be ready. "If the defense dictates that we go to them, then we'll go to them."
- Avery Sebastian will take over at safety the rest of the year. As to why he didn't play earlier, Tedford said, "It's a matchup deal. We gave those other guys an opportunity, but Avery plays fast. He plays hard. He's earned the right to have more playing time."
- UCLA is the second of three teams Cal will face that has a completely new coaching staff. Tedford noted that that would make it a little more difficult to game plan for them, because they don't have as much film on them.