Keenan Allen had 8 receptions for 112 yards making the KA/Marv package the first duo since Desean Jackson and Lavelle Hawins to each have 100 receiving yards. (via http://csnbayarea.com)

Superior Talent yet Troubling Mistakes: Cal overpowers Fresno State 36-21 in 2011 Opener


Zach Maynard gets the start against Fresno State in his first game for Cal (via http://csnbayarea.com)

Fresno State fans, ESPN analysts, and many others predicted this to be an upset for the feisty Bulldogs, but Cal clearly had superior talent at every position, even more than everyone thought. Fresno State was exposed for the team it really was, an average team in a below average conference. So that would mean easy game where Cal literally steamrolls the other team by 40 points? No, Cal had some pretty unsavory moments in this game and mistakes that shouldn’t be overlooked just because they beat a team that didn’t look like they should even be on the same field in terms of talent.

Zach Maynard, Cal’s Starting Quarterback, will be the most analyzed player in this game by every analyst, and rightly so. He had some amazing stats like 266 yards passing, 7.6 avg., and two touchdowns. But, he also had some below average stats that made it look like he shouldn’t have been out there such as 16/35 (that’s a 45% completion rate right there), and an interception on his first pass attempt. Now, analyze that! As ridiculous as that seems, I’m going to try to analye Maynard and give my thoughts on the whole team and not just the quarterback. However, before I give specific analysis on players and units, let’s go through the main plays of this game.

Cal got the game going by bringing out its revamped offense that all Cal fans have been waiting for. Fiirst play is a horrendous incomplete pass which is negated due to an illegal formation penalty. Then, Zach Maynard throws the pigskin right to a Fresno State Defensive Back (at least it him in the letters) and Fresno State got the ball at Cal’s 16 yard line. Fresno State up 7-0 and the game just started. Not the way anybody envisioned, but the Cal offense gets it together and it starts to get better.

The Cal offense does something that any Cal team in the last couple years hasn’t really done, which is to go on a 12-play, 67 yard drive that ends on Isi Sofele’s scamper into the end zone. Of course everything couldn’t be perfect and the extra point is blocked, but Cal is in the game with this dose of offense that Tedford has been searching for and they’re only down 7-6. Now that the Cal  offense is clicking, they go on to score two more touchdowns before the end of the First Quarter. One td was on a nice 39-yard run by Isi Sofele and the other was a 42-yard pass from Maynard to the elusive Marvin Jones who jukes a defender to score. Tavecchio gets another extra point blocked though and Cal is leading by the odd score of 19-7.

Marvin Jones made fantastic catches all night leading to a very good night with 2 TD and 118 Receiving Yards (via http://csnbayarea.com)

In the Second Quarter, the Cal defense was stout and did not let the Fresno State offense get anything going. The Cal offense didn’t do anything either for two possessions, but then on the third possession was when the errors started. A botched snap was picked up by Isi Sofele, trying to avoid a safety, but he made matters worse and fumbled the ball, letting Fresno State recover and score seven points instead of the two points they would have got from a Safety. Later in the quarter, Matt Summers-Gavin was called for a very ridiculous penalty which negated an amazing Keenan Allen 47 yard catch that gave Cal the ball at Fresno State’s 2 yard line. Four legitimate penalties were called against Cal on this drive as well killing the offense.  Score 19-14 heading into half.

In the 2nd half, the Cal defense turned it up a notch and went from dominating to spectacular performance. Behind that, the Cal offense had a 91-yard, 6 play drive that included a Zach Maynard 48-yard run. Extra point is made (had to include that because of what happened otherwise) and Cal now has a good lead at 26-14. However, the Bear D did not stop and they were rewarded by Cecil Whiteside forcing Derek Carr to fumble and DE Trevor Guyton recovering and returning it 22 yards for a score. Game is now in cruise control for Cal at 33-14. Fresno State gets a touchdown late in the game against a whole defense full of Redshirt FS and True FS. Add a Cal field goal and you get the final of 36-21.

Let’s start the analysis with the offense. The slew of penalties, Zach Maynard’s poor accuracy, two horrible turnovers, and a running game that never really got going are the negatives. Maynard hasn’t played a game in two years so I understand some of the first game jitters like the interception on his first pass attempt. He definitely rebounded though and converted 3rd downs, showcased his running ability, and made some big plays, and good decisions such as throwing the ball out of bounds instead of taking a sack (no QB at Cal for years has known this). However, even the passes that turned into big plays were only because of the talent we have at WR and their knack for catching poorly thrown balls. Maynard needs to improve and will improve, but it’s hard to judge how exactly he did with such extremes on both sides. I will say that Zach had a below average game for his first start, but we got the win with him and he’ll get better at everything in the coming weeks.

Some other notes on the offense include the below inadequate play by the Offensive Line. Throughout the game, the talentless Fresno State defensive line got a couple of good hits on Maynard and the Cal O-line also never opened up any good holes for Isi and company to run through. The running game needs to get on track because to win in the Pac-12, we’re going to need a balanced attack. Additionally, I already said that WR play was amazing with the KA21/MarvJones combination. Miller had two good catches as well.

When you look at the defensive side of the ball, Cal wasn’t overhyped at all when heading into this game. The Cal D took care of business and even did overtime to produce some points with that fumble recovery for a touchdown. Cal gave up only 210 yards total to Fresno State, sacked Derek Carr four times, and produced two turnovers (fumble and Steve Williams interception). Mychal Kendricks received a call from Zack “The Pain Train” Follett before the game and he got inspired and had a huge game with 9 tackles, 2.5 for a loss. Also notable was, Josh Hill with 5 tackles and 1 sack, and D.J. Holt with 7 tackles, 2 for a loss.

At the end of the day, this game was a W, and a sorely needed one. We need to make changes soon, or suffer some bad consequences, but the team had some great moments as well. Now Cal Football heads out to Boulder, Colorado where we play the Colorado
Buffs up in the mountains. As always, Go Bears!

Who was the player of the game for Cal vs. Fresno State?

  • Marvin Jones (5 receptions, 188 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns) (55%, 47 Votes)
  • Zach Maynard (266 yards passing, 2 Pass TDs, 53 yards rushing) (22%, 19 Votes)
  • Mychal Kendricks (9 tackles, 2.5 for a loss) (19%, 16 Votes)
  • Keenan Allen (8 receptions, 112 receiving yards) (4%, 3 Votes)
  • Josh Hill (5 tackles, 1 sack) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • D.J. Holt (7 tackles, 2 for a loss) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Other (Comment and Explain Your Pick) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 85

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Tags: Cal Bears Vs Fresno State Bulldogs Recap Cal Football Cal Football Blog Cal Football Site Cal Golden Bears Vs Fresno State Bulldogs Recap Cal Vs. Fresno Cal Vs. Fresno State Cal Vs. Fresno State Recap

  • HaveATake_DontSuck

    I’m not sure what FSU was thinking with their gameplan on defense. It looked like they were playing soft coverage, thinking Cal was going to play conservative, and also perhaps because they didn’t respect ZMs throwing ability. So much soft coverage with no safety help on Cal’s dynamic WR duo. Puzzling. In the second half they seemed to play more tight man, and as a result, ZM struggled and didn’t lead a TD drive after the 1st drive of the second half.

  • http://twitter.com/CalBearReporter Shaan

    @HaveATake_DontSuck

    That is interesting that you said that. Maynard didn’t get much going in the second half so the Fresno State D change might be the reason. That does lead to more questioning of Maynard’s ability then.

  • HaveATake_DontSuck

    Seeing how Maynard performs each and every week — and seeing if his accuracy and his reads improve — is certainly intriguing and reason for heightened anticipation for Cal fans; but I am not sold that he is a good enough “thrower” to be the kind of QB that Cal needs to be in the upper-echalon of the Pac-12. I don’t know how strong the conference is this year, but Maynard seems to be in the middle tier of QBs in the conference. People talk about how he is absolutely going to get better and he has a high ceiling and all I ask is: evidence? @Shaan

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  • http://twitter.com/CalBearReporter Shaan

    @HaveATake_DontSuck

    We don’t know if Maynard is absolutely going to get better, but with one game under his belt, people think he will improve. You’re right that there is no evidece he’s absolutely going to get better or worse, but they’re just making predictions. Sure, he had some bad mechanics and other things, but people believe that it was just because it was his first game and not who he really is. We’ll see.