Midseason review: California


Record: 3-2, 0-2

California had a fast start, then tumbled when conference play began.

The big question in the preseason was what sort of production the Bears would get at quarterback, a position that had been inconsistent in recent years. Zach Maynard was announced as the starter at the end of spring practices, and he was solid in his debut, a 36-21 win over Fresno State. He bounced back from an early interception to throw for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He then threw for 243 yards and four TDs in an overtime win at Colorado, the last TD being the game-winner to his half-brother, receiver Keenan Allen.

Cal then improved to 3-0 with an easy win over overmatched Presbyterian.

The trip to Washington seemed like a good measuring stick for both programs. They were North Division rivals trying to challenge Oregon and Stanford, or at least push into the No. 3 spot. While Maynard put up impressive passing numbers -- 349 yards through the air -- he and the Bears struggled in the red zone and converting yards to points. They only scored three points in the second half of a 31-23 loss, and were stopped on fourth down on the Huskies' 2-yard line late in the game.

The second half was an even bigger problem at Oregon this past Thursday. Cal led 15-14 at the break but was drubbed 29-0 in the second half of a 43-15 defeat. Maynard's footwork and accuracy were off, and the defense yielded 239 yards rushing to LaMichael James.

So, at 3-2 but 0-2 in conference play, the Bears play host to USC on Thursday. It's not yet clear where the season may be headed. Both the offense and defense have flashed potential but haven't showed consistency. This looks like a bowl team. But we said the same thing last year and were wrong.

Offensive MVP: WR Keenan Allen. Allen ranks sixth in the country with 133.6 yards receiving per game. He's caught 39 passes for 668 yards with four TDs. He averages 17.1 yards per reception.

Defensive MVP: LB Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks leads the Bears with 41 tackles. He also has 4.0 tackles for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.