Opening the mailbag: Locker room issues at Cal?

November, 4, 2011
11/04/11
4:30
PM ET
Happy Friday.

I don't always Tweet, but when I do, I do it here.

To the notes.

Evil Oski from Berkeley writes: I am a very concerned Bears fan as are most Bear fans who email your blog, and I'm just wondering the only reason why Tedford is keeping Zach Maynard as the starter is to appease his half-brother, star-wideout Keenan Allen. If I'm not mistaken, wasn't Allen a commit to Alabama before he took he commitment to Cal after Maynard transferred here? I don't know. Maybe it's just paranoid. But have you seen Maynard play lately? Certainly Allan Bridgford should get at least some shot at the job after what was the antithesis of good QB play by Maynard.

Ted Miller: That is a concern that it is almost impossible not to have. And if Maynard has another terrible game against Washington State and still remains the starter, that concern would find some legitimacy.

That said: Coach Jeff Tedford wants to win. Promise. Everything he does is centered around leading the Bears to victory. I've talked to him after games. Trust me: He is as competitive a guy as there is, and Maynard's performance in the dreadful loss to UCLA pained him more than it did you.

It is possible that Maynard's relationship with Allen played a part in Tedford's thinking, but I'd guess only a small part, if at all. No coach wants to anger his best player. But winning comes first. End of story.

It appears that Tedford believes that if Maynard maintains his mechanics, he can be a good quarterback, one who will get better with experience. That's why he's sticking with him. He doesn't want to show -- or be viewed by his players as having -- a too-quick trigger.

It is troubling that Maynard started fast, regressed, seemed to find himself in the win against Utah, then took another step back. This is big-boy football. He needs to be more consistent or he needs to sit, whether that hurts his feelings or not.

Maynard getting benched likely would wound Allen. They are extremely tight, according to all accounts. Still, if Allen caused a stink -- pouted or complained, etc. -- he would do damage in the locker room. That's inexcusable. And such a childish response would damage his NFL prospects. He would come off as me-first and immature.

If Maynard gets benched for poor play, the correct response for Allen would be to slap his brother on the back, tell him to keep his chin up and keep working hard, and then he should find Bridgford and say, "I'm behind you 100 percent. This is business, not personal. The team comes first. Now throw me the rock."

It's possible this will get tested this weekend, by the way.


Tom from Hermosa Beach, Calif., writes: I have yet to see an explanation from the Pac-12 for its suspension of T.J.McDonald after the hit in the Stanford game on Saturday. Yes, it was a hard hit. But he didn't go for the head, nor did he leave his feet. Are players now being suspended for hitting hard?

Ted Miller: You can read a complete explanation here.

Here's the statement from the Pac-12 and commissioner Larry Scott:

“While Mr. McDonald was appropriately penalized on the field, I have deemed it necessary to add a half-game suspension,” said Scott. “This process was part of our weekly review of all targeting and unnecessary roughness hits.

“Mr. McDonald had been previously warned about illegal hits above the shoulders on defenseless opponents. In order to protect our student-athletes, it is imperative that we enforce these penalties for the safety of the game.”

When there is a foul called for initiating contact on the head/neck area of a defenseless opponent that does not result in a player disqualification, NCAA football rules specifically call for a video review by the conference office for possible additional sanctions before the next scheduled game.


It was a close play, but as much as I like McDonald as a player, he does have a reputation for hitting high. Reputation is part of this -- see Scott's explanation. Bottom line: The conference -- and football in general -- is trying to protect players' heads. Defenders are simply going to have to learn to tackle differently.


Ryan from Salem, Ore., writes: You wrote: "Even before the injury, Thomas was off-and-on as a passer this year. "Do you even watch the games or pay attention to football. DT is the 7th rated passer nationally right now...that's including his "shake off the rust" half against WSU. And if you actually watch the games, more often than not, his incompletions can be attributed to our crappy receiving corps dropping passes. He's been excellent this year considering what he has to work with. Best passer since Kelly has been at the school. And that includes Dixon because Dixon had better receivers/tight ends to toss to.

Ted Miller: I do watch the games! Didn't say he's been bad this season, but he has been off-and-on. My impression, by the way, is most Ducks fans agree with me.

Did you watch the LSU game for one? He missed open men. He's thrown four of his five interceptions in the past three games (with six TDs). He completed 55 percent and 52 percent of his throws against Arizona and California. His completion percentage for the season -- 61.4 -- is no better than last season.

His efficiency number is high because of his high touchdown percentage: 11.04 percent is best in the nation.

Yes, the Ducks took a step back at receiver this season. And, yes, Thomas has been victimized by drops and some bad routes. But he hasn't been consistently sharp, which most of us thought he would be in his second year as a starter.


Jeremy from Portland writes: OSU vs Stanford much closer than given credit on paper. Stanford prior opponents' combined record 28-37. Stanford scoring 8 less points on the road and allowing 9 more points than at home. Average total YPG allowed by Stanford's prior opponents 422 (rank 91 of 120). Average total YPG passing allowed by Stanford's prior opponents 263 (rank 101 of 120). Average 3rd down conversions allowed by Stanford's prior opponents 46.17 (rank 101 of 120). Average opponents rushing offense 128 ypg (87 of 120). Bad for the PAC-10 but the Cardinal will be exposed soon. If not a let down game this week, next week for sure. This week's game adjusted for location, neutral turnovers and yardage is a 35-28 Cardinal game. Beavs come out to play and take care of the football, watch out.

Ted Miller: Some interesting thoughts. I do not share your position, however.

We shall see.


Nate from Portland writes; Your article "Pac-12 lunch links: Thomas says he's ready" begins like this:"Right and left; the hothouse and the street. The Right can only live and work hermetically, in the hothouse of the past, while outside the Left prosecute their affairs in the streets manipulated by mob violence. And cannot live but in the dreamscape of the future."Is this some obscure Darron Thomas reference, or did you leave your laptop at an Occupy Wall Street protest?

Ted Miller: It's a passage from Thomas Pynchon's novel, "V."

Pynchon and I hang out. Huge fan of the Pac-12 blog.

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