California may be forced to use backup QB Allan Bridgford vs. No. 2 Oregon
BERKELEY, Calif. – Allan Bridgford prepares each week as if he is the starting quarterback for California.
The difference this week is he could likely get that chance for the Golden Bears against No. 2 Oregon because starter Zach Maynard is hampered by an injured left knee.
Bridgford took the majority of practice snaps with the first team Tuesday, according to coach Jeff Tedford, while Maynard just watched with a heavy brace on his left leg.
Tedford has not ruled Maynard out as of yet, but it is very likely the Bears (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) may have to turn to a quarterback who has thrown just 48 passes in four seasons when they host the Ducks (9-0, 7-0) on Saturday night.
"It would be different if it were my first time playing a college football game but it's not," Bridgford said after practice Tuesday. "I've played a number of games. I've thrown a handful of passes. I'm not overly nervous. I'm just ready to have fun and waiting to have my shot."
Maynard has no ligament damage in his knee and Tedford is just waiting to see how much the injury heals this week before deciding on who will start Saturday.
"It's totally dependent on how he's moving and what he feels like," Tedford said. "Each day it gets a little bit better. It's kind of out of our control. He'll get as much rehab as he can and it's just how he responds to that."
Bridgford actually started the season opener against Nevada this year, with Maynard being held out for punishment for missing a tutoring session. But Bridgford didn't work with the first team the week leading up to the game and didn't even know he would start until the night before.
He completed just 2 of 9 passes for 6 yards that game. He didn't play again until Maynard hurt his knee Friday night against Washington and went 2 for 7 for 26 yards, failing to lead Cal on a late drive in a 21-13 loss.
Bridgford went 13 for 32 for 184 yards in three games last season and has a 35.4 career completion percentage. But Tedford said he's confident in Bridgford, calling him a studious quarterback who is always well prepared.
The task Saturday will be especially difficult against an Oregon defense that excels at pressuring quarterbacks and causing turnovers.
If Bridgford starts, he will also have to keep up with Oregon's high-powered, fast-break offense that leads the nation in scoring with 54.3 points per game.
"We're going to ask Bridgford to play within himself and let people around him make plays as well," Tedford said. "It's not just him out there. There's enough anxiety for somebody to go in and play the number two team in the nation without putting any more undue anxiety on him. He just has to play within himself, be smart with the football and not turn the ball over."
Austin Hinder, who has not played a game in his three seasons at Cal, worked with the second team and would back up Bridgford if Maynard can't play.
In other injury news, star receiver Keenan Allen will miss his second straight game with an injured left knee. Tedford would not rule out Allen yet for the season finale at Oregon State on Nov. 17.
Starting tackle Matt Summers-Gavin (knee) and receiver Bryce Treggs (ankle) are day to day with injuries as well.