With only four games remaining and two of them against ranked teams, Cal (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12 North) is facing an uphill climb to potentially become bowl eligible.
“There are no weeks off,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “The emphasis is on preparation and execution.”
The Bears are coming off a 31-14 loss at UCLA where quarterback Zach Maynard threw four interceptions and failed to throw for at least 200 yards for the first time this season.
Tedford attributed much of Maynard’s struggles to timing and tipped passes.
“I thought he read the coverage well,” Tedford said. “He’s going to the right place with the ball.”
Despite the transfer quarterback’s struggles, he will be the starter Saturday against Washington State, but Tedford said if Maynard’s consistency is not improved there could be a change.
“I don’t think we can chase ghosts,” Washington State coach Paul Wulff said. “We’ll prepare for [Maynard] and if not, we’ll change on the run.”
Backup quarterback Allen Bridgford has been taking his usual practice time with the first unit.
Last season was the first time under Tedford the Bears did not make a bowl game appearance. Their last appearance was in the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl against Utah.
Washington State (3-4, 1-4 Pac-12 North) lost 43-28 at Oregon last week, but Wulff liked his team’s energy better.
“I thought our players came out and wanted to make amends [for not playing well],” he said.
Washington State will have its hands full with Cal wide receivers Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen.
“They’re as good a wideout combo in the conference,” Wulff said. “We’re going to have to be physical.”
The pair are sixth in the NCAA in combined catches with 108 and are 17 behind Western Michigan’s Jordan White and Robert Arnheim.
Allen is on pace to break 100 receptions and 1,400 yards for the season.
The Bears and Cougars are tied for fifth in the Pac-12 North.