Cougars look to stop run against California
There are varying opinions of California quarterback Zach Maynard. As in: your opinion may vary depending upon which of his games you watch...
PULLMAN — There are varying opinions of California quarterback Zach Maynard. As in: your opinion may vary depending upon which of his games you watch.
Last week against UCLA? Not bad. Maynard completed 25 of 30 passes for 295 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in a 43-17 Cal victory.
The week prior, against Arizona State? Not good. Maynard completed just 9 of 28 passes in a 27-17 loss.
Consider that Maynard has completed 70 percent or more of his passes in three games, and has completed fewer than 57 percent in Cal's other three games.
So WSU (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12) wants to take its chances with Maynard tonight at Martin Stadium, focusing on taking away the Golden Bears' running game in order to put the game in Maynard's inconsistent hands.
"He's been kind of up and down," WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske said. "But when they get the running game going, his dimension is kind of out of it. My big point is we've got to control the run game and try to get him involved."
There is the matter of those running backs, though. Cal (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) uses three of them — C.J. Anderson, Brendan Bigelow and Isi Sofele, who ran all over WSU last season — and each has shown the ability to break big runs.
"Their running backs, as a group, (are) probably the best that we'll see all year," Breske said.
Anderson leads the team with 386 yards, Sofele has 354, and Bigelow has racked up 218 yards on just 15 carries, including an 81-yard touchdown run at Ohio State earlier this season.
Add in a group of receivers led by junior Keenan Allen, and Choate thinks Cal's skill position players are better than any WSU opponent except Oregon.
WSU might find encouragement, then, in its defensive performance last week against Oregon State. The Cougars allowed just 4.5 yards per play and limited OSU to six points in the first half.
"We like the way that we played as a defense," linebacker Darryl Monroe said. "It wasn't good enough because we didn't get the 'W,' but I feel like we will ... build on it from here."