Every week Cal Football Blog will look at 5 most intriguing questions before Game Day.
1. How long will QB Zach Maynard have the “jitters”?
Maynard threw an interception in the second pass attempt of his premiere. He went 16-35 and rushed for 53 yards. Maynard will be facing a much larger crowd in the Boulder this Saturday and will need his offensive line to give him much better protection. The bright spot is that even with the early troubles, Maynard was able to keep his head up and keep his confidence. A few of Cal’s former QBs let bad plays get to them and lacked ability to recover from mistakes. This shows that Maynard has some resiliency and toughness that will be very important down the line during close games. Many observers saw last Saturday that Zach lacked some touch and accuracy in his throws, which could have been easily picked by most secondaries in the Pac-12. It seems that Maynard is mentally ready for the tough road ahead, but will need better technique and more help from his surrounding teammates.
2. Can Cal win on the road?
This will be a good road test for the Bears as they will have to travel the high altitudes to Boulder, CO. Tedford has stressed this week that the players will not only need to be physically ready but also mentally ready for the climate. Colorado will have around 45,000 fans in the crowd, a crowd that Cal’s freshman and new transfers have yet to face. However, Cal has been traveling from place to place all spring and fall camp, which may help them become Road Warriors this season.
3. Will the Offensive Line step up their game?
The offensive line struggled against Fresno State. There were too many mistakes like the three consecutive false starts and an early snap that led to a fumble recovery and touchdown for Fresno State. Also, there were too many mistakes coming from the right side of the line, giving no time for Maynard and forcing him to scramble. Most of the big holes for Isi Sofele came from the left side of the line while he got stuffed when he try to hit holes to the right of the line. Luckily, Maynard’s legs have served him well during scrambles or there could have potentially been five to six sacks in the last game. Let’s hope that Coach Michalczick can dramatically improve the line by Saturday.
4. What’s going on with our Special Teams?
Two blocked extra point attempts and a botched rugby kick is not a great way for the special teams to start off the season. Cal will really need to work on protection during field goals and Georgio will need to increase the height on his extra point attempts. Cal’s next game with Colorado could potentially come down to a few points, so Cal will need every single point that they can get. Bryan Anger punted rugby style for almost every kick but one. This shows our lack of trust in our punt coverage team even though our “shield of death” formation is supposed to allow more players to get downfield faster. If Anger keeps punting rugby kicks he will definitely decrease his yards/punt and may not receive All-Pac 12 recognition. Last game, Georgio Tavecchio barely got the ball to the 10 yard line on kickoffs, but this may be due to the strong winds at Candlestick that day or that Coach Genyk wanted him to get more hang time on his kicks. At Boulder, both Georgio Tavecchio and Bryan Anger should be able to kick further because of the thin air, but Coach Genyk will have to change the personnel, scheme, or something on both kick and punt coverage if Cal wants to contain Colorado’s return teams.
5. Feast or Famine?
Hopefully Cal’s defensive front will be feasting on Colorado’s QB Tyler Hansen this Saturday. Colorado’s offensive line allowed seven sacks against Hawaii. Former Cal’s offensive line coach Steve Marshall is currently the offensive line coach for Colorado, and Cal’s defensive front will be looking to embarrass him this Saturday. Look for Cal’s athletic defensive linemen and linebackers to get to the quarterback constantly this Saturday. However, Cal’s secondary will need to keep sharp because QB Tyler Hansen has had games where he has lit up the opponent’s secondary.