Zach Maynard is next up as Cal keeps looking for the next Aaron Rodgers
California has had trouble finding a quality quarterback since Aaron Rodgers left. Zach Maynard, a left-hander who started his career at the University of Buffalo, has the job now.
Seattle Times staff reporter
California @ UW, 12:30 p.m., ROOT
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Really, there was nowhere for Jeff Tedford to go but down when it came to recruiting quarterbacks to California.
Tedford's first attempt at luring a quarterback to Cal during his first season in 2002 merely netted some guy named Aaron Rodgers. He turned out to be not only one of the best quarterbacks in school history, but is on track to becoming one of the best in the history of the game.
"It is very easy to get spoiled with a guy like Aaron Rodgers," Tedford said. "If the expectations are that every quarterback is going to play like Aaron, then we are going to be disappointed."
That has been the fate for those who followed. Nate Longshore (2005-2008) won 10 games in 2006, but also was there when the Bears began their reputation for late-season fades. His successor, Kevin Riley, proved maddeningly inconsistent.
Now, as Cal comes to Husky Stadium on Saturday for Washington's Pac-12 opener, junior Zach Maynard has taken over.
And he has taken a most circuitous route to get to this point. A native of Greensboro, N.C., grade issues led Maynard first to the University of Buffalo, where he started every game in 2009, throwing for 400 yards against Pittsburgh.
But when coach Turner Gill left for Kansas, Maynard saw an opportunity to take his game to a higher level.
"I wanted to go to a BCS-type school and play on a bigger stage," he said in a phone interview this week.
And he didn't plan to go alone. His younger half-brother is Keenan Allen, considered that year as one of the top receiver-defensive back prospects in the country. The two were raised by Maynard's biological father, and consider themselves brothers.
"He wanted to go wherever I wanted to go," Maynard said.
Allen initially committed to Alabama. But when Alabama wouldn't offer a scholarship to Maynard, the two headed to Cal.
Maynard had to sit out last year as a transfer, but Allen played in every game, setting a Cal receiving record for true freshmen with 46 catches for 490 yards. Once eligible in the spring, Maynard beat out Brock Mansion — who took over late last year when Riley was injured — and a couple others for the starting job. Mansion played against UW last year when the Huskies won a 16-13 slugfest, knocking Cal out of a bowl game.
The left-handed Maynard hasn't taken long to show he's an upgrade, throwing for 724 yards and nine touchdowns in Cal's first three games. One of his scoring passes went to Allen to win a game at Colorado in overtime.
"We just know at any given time when a play breaks down, he knows exactly where I want to go and he's able to get open," Maynard said.
Maynard also is a good runner and Cal has added some plays to its offense to take advantage of those skills.
"He can probably use his legs better than any quarterback we've had here," Tedford said.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, in fact, didn't have to look far for a comparison.
"Athletic guy, can create, similar to Keith in that they can buy time and create out of the pocket, so you have to account for him," Sarkisian said, comparing Maynard to UW quarterback Keith Price. "He really makes them go and makes them tick. So this is the fourth straight week of us facing an athletic quarterback back there that can buy time, and we've got to find a way to contain him."
Garfield's Coleman excited to come home
Saturday's game will mark a homecoming for former Garfield High star Deandre Coleman, a sophomore defensive lineman generally considered the top player in the state of Washington in the fall of 2008. He committed early to UW that fall. But when Tyrone Willingham was fired as coach he reconsidered his options and ended up at Cal.
He said he hasn't regretted his decision.
"I like it here," he said. "I thought it was the best place for me."
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Coleman is a backup at defensive end, but plays regularly and has 2.5 tackles for loss in the first three games.
"He's a guy who is big and physical and he's really caught on to the game and the speed of the game so he's been a force at times for us," said Tedford. "We are pretty deep on the defensive line and able to kind of spell people in and out to where we don't have people playing the entire game, so we feel he is a quality guy who can play quality minutes."
Coleman said he was looking forward to playing his first game at Husky Stadium in front of friends and family.
"I just want to go out and have my best game, have a big game this game to give them something to remember," he said.
• Price (knees) participated fully in practice and Sarkisian said he looked better than he did during the Thursday practice last week.
• RB Jesse Callier (hamstring) again practiced and will play.
• Safety Nate Fellner was limited but Sarkisian said he might be able to play, though Justin Glenn is likely to again start at free safety.
• UW said it has distributed 57,800 tickets for the game.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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