Bears fall in Pasadena

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PASADENA, Calif. -- California was ahead of UCLA for a grand total of 14 minutes and 43 seconds. The same Bruins team that came into Saturday night 10th or worst in the Pac-12 in 13 statistical categories was -- by just about every measure -- better than the Bears, coming away with a 31-14 Homecoming win in front of 55,604 at the Rose Bowl.
"We just couldn't get into a flow," said Cal head coach Jeff Tedford, who's team gained just 333 yards of total offense against a Bruins squad which came into the game allowing 383.1 yards per game, ranked 106th in the nation in total defense. "We were backed up the whole first half, and we really could never get into the flow of the game."
Cal (4-4, 1-4 in the Pac-12) took the requisite two steps back after beating Utah last week in San Francisco, as junior quarterback Zach Maynard not only failed to throw for at least 200 yards for the first time this season, but also threw four interceptions, with three of those leading to 17 UCLA points.
When asked if he was considering making a change at the quarterback position, Tedford paused.
"We'll see," Tedford said. "We'll look at the tape and make a determination … [Allan] Bridgford is the back-up quarterback right now."
"It's coach Tedford's decision," said Maynard. "That's my coach, he looks at my performance and my capabilities and I'm going to just keep practicing hard and get ready for the next opponent."
Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince, on the other hand, did his best impression of former Nevada star Collin Kaepernick, dancing around Bears defenders to the tune of 163 rushing yards on 19 carries - both career highs. Prince became the first Bruins QB since Jeff Dankworth in 1976 to rush for over 100 yards, a feat also accomplished against Cal.
"Their quarterback killed us today," Tedford said. "I think he had close to 150 yards or something rushing, and he made big plays. He changed field position, when we had them backed up, he made big plays and got them out of there with the run. They made the plays. You have to give them credit. They made plays and we didn't."
Prince had seven rushing plays of at least 10 yards, and four plays of at least 21 yards on the ground.
"That's their offense," Tedford said. "You have somebody for him, and we missed tackles a few times on him. We didn't tackle well in that phase of the game, so they had that working and we didn't do a good enough job defending him. But we always had somebody there in space for him. They may not be right on the edge, but they're coming from the secondary, and we missed some tackles in the open field without bringing out feet and running through tackles. We were diving at his legs, and he's a big, strong guy and he'll run through those tackles."
Most of Prince's runs, however, came on the outside edge. He was rarely touched before going down at the ends of plays.
"Every run that he had, we had somebody dedicated to him," said Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. "We did a poor job on the perimeter of making tackles, and if you don't tackle well enough, no matter what kind of offensive player it is -- running back, quarterback, receiver -- they're going to have an opportunity to make plays, and that happened tonight."
Prince became just the second player to run for over 100 yards against the Bears this season, the first being Oregon's LaMichael James.
"They were cracking, so the corner was going to have to come off and take the quarterback after the crack was made," Pendergast said. "One time, I know, for sure, on one of the long runs, Stefan McClure got way too far inside, and the ball bounced outside of him. We spotted him just a little bit of duty in there just because of Marc [Anthony]'s injury, but that's no excuse."
While Prince and the UCLA pistol formation -- according to Pendergast, the "exact same," pistol the Bruins employed last season without much adjustment -- got the better of the Cal defense for long stretches, it was the Bears offense that provided the most shots straight into their own feet.
Maynard rushed for 39 yards on nine carries and utilized his legs to great effect for the second game in a row -- but he was also sacked three times, and was held to just 14-of-30 passing for 199 yards and those four picks, including one inside the UCLA 20, intended for his younger brother Keenan Allen in the fourth quarter.
Allen saw two defenders on him for most of the game -- including safety help on top -- though Tedford denied that he was technically double covered.
"They didn't spend most of the game doubling Keenan," Tedford said. "They didn't spend the entire game doubling Keenan. Keenan was -- they ran the regular zone stuff, they didn't double Keenan."
Maynard, however, felt differently.
"They did a great job double-coveraging our star receivers," Maynard said. "They did a great job. I had to make a lot of check-downs, I had to run a lot, I feel like, and they put a lot of pressure on me. Their D-line is great, athletic, they get to the ball fast and they basically did a great job today, as a defense."
In fact, Bruins safety Tevin McDonald had more interceptions -- three -- than senior Cal wide receiver Marvin Jones had receptions.
In all, Cal coughed the ball up five times, including a fumbled exchange at the Bears' 19-yard line from Maynard to tailback Isi Sofele, a fumble which led to a touchdown for the Bruins.
Maynard has now thrown seven interceptions in Pac-12 play, all of them coming in the past three weeks.
"It was a tough day," Tedford said. "You can't win with turning the football over. He missed on a couple throws with over-throws that caused interceptions at crucial times. Obviously, we had really poor field position in the first half, trying to get out of there, you've got to be accurate. He's going to the right place with the ball, but bad throws were interceptions.
"Today was a step back, as far as throwing the football. You have to be accurate throwing the ball, and he made some good plays, but the turnovers killed us. We can't give them a short field; I don't care who you play in this conference. You cannot turn the football over."
In the second quarter, with the game tied 7-7, Maynard forced a ball to Allen, who had to dive back and to his left to make an attempt on the ball before it was snagged by McDonald and returned for 15 yards.
"I feel like we were a little off, as an offense," Maynard said. "The defense did a great job, but on an overall performance, we could have played better. UCLA had a great game today, offensively and defensively. They put points on the board."
On third-and-inches on the Cal 23 with just over 13 minutes left in the game, Maynard was picked by McDonald all alone on the right side, with no Bears receiver in sight.
"He did make some great plays on the ball," Maynard said. "I tried to throw in a guy's area, and I was a little off with a couple of them. I just tried to get passes and the ball came off a little wrong, and he made a good play on the ball."
Asked what the root cause was for his play, Maynard stated things plainly.
"It was inaccuracy," he said. "It was getting too many guys in my face and I was just trying to look for guys, rushing because I was about to get tackled. Just a couple off balls. It was vital, and they happened to be at the right place at the right time, made interceptions and made great plays."
Sofele and redshirt sophomore Steve Williams started off the game with a bang, as Williams forced a prince fumble after a big 21-yard rush up the middle. After linebacker Dan Camporeale scooped up his first career fumble recovery, the Bears ran off a five-play, 30-yard drive midway through the first quarter, polished off by a one-yard Sofele touchdown run.
Sofele would wind up rushing 15 times for 74 yards on the day, as one of the few bright spots for Cal, as the Bears wilted in just about every pressure situation. On third down, Cal was 2-for-12. On third down, the Bears gained an average of 2.9 yards. The Bruins, in contrast, gained an average of 5.0.
"We were not consistent enough moving the ball down the field," Tedford said. "We'd have periods of doing things well, but we were not consistent enough in moving the ball consistently down the field.
"We didn't make plays on third down and that's what it comes down to, pretty simple … On our third downs, we didn't capitalize. On third down, we were not very good today."
In the second quarter, with a seven-point lead, Cal had two drives of zero yards and generated just 15 yards of total offense before halftime.
"I've got to get better," Maynard said. "I've got to stop making mistakes. I'm going to go back tomorrow and look at the film and analyze myself and my game play, and take it from there and get ready for next week."
As the Bears slowed down, the Bruins pushed on the gas. 6-foot, 230-pound UCLA tailback Derrick Coleman -- after having no carries in the first quarter -- finished the day with 81 yards on 16 carries with three touchdowns, including the nail-in-the-coffin rumble with 4:53 left in the game from 25 yards out.
The Bruins hung 294 total rushing yards on the Pac-12's second-best run defense, attacking both the middle and the edges of the Cal defense, which was hobbled early because of a first-quarter suspension of senior inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks for an unspecified violation of team rules. He played the game in a cast because of a surgical procedure on his left thumb, though Tedford said that was not an inhibiting factor.
"He's the leading tackler in the Pac-10 [sic], so obviously it's going to have some affect," Pendergast said of Kendricks' absence. "But, he didn't get the reps this week because of the surgery on his thumb, which, of course, I'm sure that hurt us some."
The Bears came out after the half and scored on a two-play, 15-yard drive after UCLA's Jordan James mishandled a booming Bryan Anger punt, leading to a fumble recovery by D.J. Campbell deep in Bruins territory.
After that, though, it was all UCLA.
The Bruins tallied 196 of their 386 total offensive yards after the half, and while Cal posted 231, the Bears scored just once after the break.
"I thought in the second half, when we came out and we scored, we got back down there, but we missed a field goal that was going to tie the game," Tedford said. "Momentum was going to change right there, then they took the ball and drove it and we got out in bad field position, so you have to give them credit for driving and getting the ball out of their field position, and we didn't."
Tedford is now 1-9 in Los Angeles as the Bears' head coach, and his team will now face an improving Washington State -- which pushed Cal to the bring last year in Pullman, Wash. -- next week in San Francisco, followed by Oregon State and their head coach Mike Riley, who is unbeaten against Tedford each of the last four times the Beavers have come down to California.
"There's a lot of football left," Tedford said. "We're 4-4 and we've got a lot of football left, and so by no means are we going to fold the tents and say the season's over. That would be ridiculous. I'm not going to do that. We're going to go back to work. We took a step back today. I don't want to bury my head in the sand and say that we didn't. We took a step back today. We didn't play as well as we need to play, but I have confidence in the team that we'll come back and work with a great work ethic and get ready to play next week."