Maynard leads Cal to upset of UCLA

907963.jpg

Maynard leads Cal to upset of UCLA

BOX SCORE
BERKELEY -- California quarterback Zach Maynard made a bad read on his first pass attempt when he tried to squeeze a pass into double coverage and it ended in an interception.He spent the rest of the night making UCLA's defense pay for his mistake.Maynard matched his career high with four touchdown passes and added a fifth on the ground and California took advantage of six turnovers to stun No. 25 UCLA 43-17 on Saturday night."We had a huge week of practice this week and everybody was focused in," said Maynard, who completed 25 of 30 passes for 295 yards. "We prepared ourselves ... and we had a lot of fire behind our backs. It was a great outcome."Coming off one of the worst games of his career, Maynard repeatedly picked himself up off the turf at Memorial Stadium after getting drilled by the Bruins defense to help the Golden Bears (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) end their three-game losing streak.By beating UCLA (4-2, 1-2) at home for the seventh straight time, Cal might have also decreased some of the pressure on coach Jeff Tedford."It was much needed, no doubt about it," Tedford said. "It's been a tough few weeks. That's definitely going to give us a boost. But even though this is very satisfying and gratifying for our team, we know we still have a lot of work to do."The outlook is a lot more promising for the Bears following the upset win over their conference rivals.Maynard, who completed only 9 of 28 passes in last week's loss to Arizona State, was almost flawless against UCLA. He completed 13 consecutive throws during one stretch in the second half.The Bears' senior quarterback also scored on a 1-yard keeper in the fourth quarter following a 42-yard interception return by safety Mike Lowe.All of this after his first pass of the night ended in the arms of UCLA safety Andrew Abbott."I just had to shake it off," Maynard said. "I thought Keenan (Allen) was going to come out a little bit faster out of his break, but he was double covered. I should have just thrown it out of bounds. Made a bad play worse."Little else went wrong for the Bears.Richard Rodgers caught seven passes for 129 yards while Allen caught a pair of touchdowns and finished with eight receptions to move into third place on Cal's career list.C.J. Anderson added 151 yards rushing, 68 on a touchdown run in the fourth quarter to extend Cal's lead to 26 points.Johnathan Franklin ran for 103 yards for UCLA, which lost for the second time in three games and is likely to fall out of the rankings again.In addition to the six turnovers, the Bruins also committed 12 penalties on their mistake-filled night."We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves," Bruins coach Jim Mora said. "You know when you go on the road in a hostile environment and you turn the ball over six times, it's going to be tough to win. We got beaten by a good team ... and we got beat solidly."As sharp as the offense was, it was Cal's defense that made the difference.UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw four interceptions, three by Bears cornerback Kameron Jackson. The Bruins, who had only one turnover in their previous two games, also fumbled twice.Hundley, the redshirt freshman who has looked strong running UCLA's spread offense, never found his rhythm. He had a season-high 31 completions and passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns, but couldn't prevent the Bruins from remaining winless at Memorial Stadium since 1998."There was a lot of pressure but I can do better with my reads," Hundley said. "They just executed real well. The penalties hurt. With this kind of offense, it kills your tempo."The ending was in sharp contrast to the opening drive for UCLA.The Bruins got creative when Hundley threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Cassius Marsh, a defensive end who lined up on the left side of the offensive line then ran a short out pattern. It's a formation UCLA has used previously this season, but the first time Marsh, a 275-pound senior, has scored.Cal responded with a 26-yard field goal by Vicenzo D'Amato then took the lead on Maynard's 9-yard touchdown pass to Anderson midway through the second quarter. Maynard got the drive started with a 42-yard completion to tight end Rodgers then capped it with the throw to Anderson, who beat safety Tevin McDonald on an slant pattern.That came after Hundley was charged with a fumble after his short pass in the left flat to Jordan James was ruled a lateral and recovered by Cal's Nick Forbes.After UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a 46-yard field goal attempt, the Bruins forced a punt but Kenny Orjioke ran into return man Steven Manfro as Manfro was calling for a fair catch. The ball hit Orjioke in the back and Cal pounced on it.Five plays later, Maynard connected with Allen for an 8-yard touchdown on an inside slant play similar to the one run by Anderson.The Bruins committed their third turnover of the first half when Hundley threw an interception in the end zone after the intended receiver stopped his route well short of the goal line.Maynard threw touchdowns on Cal's first two drives in the second half to push the lead to 29-14.UCLA pulled within 29-17 on Fairbairn's 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, but Cal's defense came up with two more interceptions to secure the win.

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

INDIANAPOLIS -- More and more college coaches are putting their starters and even their stars on special teams as they seek to pile up every possible point in an era of pedal-to-the-metal shootouts and never-safe leads.

Fading fast are the days when superstars would catch their breath on the sideline when the kicker or punter trotted onto the field with the scrubs.

NFL teams love it.

Watching how players handle themselves as a blocker, gunner or returner provides a glimpse into a prospect's range, selflessness and versatility. It also delivers a sneak peek into how coachable he'll be, says Phil Savage, the SiriusXM NFL Radio host who spent two decades as an NFL coach, scout and executive and now oversees the Senior Bowl.

"I think because of the landscape of college football where scoring is at a premium, you've got to figure out a way to put points on the board not only on offense but through your special teams and defensively, as well," Savage says. "These coaches want to get these young players on the field as soon as possible, and a way to do that is utilize them on special teams."

These tapes provide a bonus to pro scouts.

"Now you have a vision of what that player might forecast to in the NFL as a young player and, specifically, as a rookie," Savage said.

Offensive and defensive coaches have a better idea of the types of players they're integrating into their schemes, and special teams coaches no longer get blank stares and blank canvases from the rookie class.

"Not only do you like the fact that they come in and have experience doing it, but you love the mentality if you're a coach and a decision maker that this guy isn't a diva, he's got no ego about it, he understands the team and puts team before self," says ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.

"And he comes in with the mindset of 'What can I do to help the team and how can I contribute?' Those are the guys that seem to make it and last longer in the league because they're just willing to do different things and whatever it takes."

The prime example in this year's draft class is Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey , a "dynamic player than can do it all," according to Broncos GM John Elway.

McCaffrey gained more than 5,000 yards from scrimmage in his college career and added almost 2,000 more as a returner.

"There's just a lot of big plays open in the return game," McCaffrey says. "You see special teams have such an impact on the game today. Any time I can have the ball in my hands, I feel like I can do something dangerous, and that's really why I love the return game."

Other highly touted draft prospects who polished their resumes on special teams include Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Washington wide receiver John Ross, and USC cornerback Adroee' Jackson, all of whom are projected as high selections.

McShay says "we're seeing more and more programs put an emphasis on special teams and having their key players contribute in one or more areas on special teams."

He pointed to Ohio State, where Urban Myers coaches special teams himself.

"It's a major emphasis there, and so you'll see some more guys typically lined up and contributing that are starters and stars," McShay says. "It's an honor to be on special teams."

Not a burden.

"It is not uncommon now to see people that are going to be picked in the first round having 100-plus special teams plays," suggests NFL draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt.

He pointed to the University of Florida, where Gators defensive backs cover kickoffs as well as they do receivers.

"Everyone's always trying to get their best guys on the field," Brandt says.

That's a change from years past when coaches feared exposing their star players to the extra hits.

The added value benefits the players, whose multiple talents allow NFL general managers to address many needs.

"We're seeing more emphasis on it in college, and I think NFL teams love to see it because if just means you're getting a bit more for your buck," McShay says.

Top talents who bolstered their value by playing special teams:

CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY , RB, STANFORD: He shined at the combine working out with the running backs and was as impressive running routes. Asked if there was anything he couldn't do, the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey said then: "I can't sing."

JABRILL PEPPERS , S, MICHIGAN: He worked out with safeties and linebackers at the combine, where teams talked of him playing RB and WR in addition to returning kicks. "The bottom line is I'm a ballplayer and I'm a hell of a ballplayer," Peppers said.

JOHN ROSS , WR, WASHINGTON: He caught 81 passes with 17 TDs last season but actually posted more return yards (2,069) than scrimmage yards (1,924) in his college career.

ADOREE' JACKSON , CB, USC: One of the best special teams coverage players in the NCAA, Jackson also scored eight TDs on punt and kick returns in college. His punt return averages rose from 6.0 yards to 10.5 and 15.8.

JAMAL ADAMS , S, LSU: Another star in coverage, Adams' defensive mentality extends to special teams. "I love being on the field and just playing football," said Adams, whose father, George, was a first-round pick by the Giants in 1985.

ALVIN KAMARA , RB, TENNESSEE: In a deep running back group, Kamara separates himself with his special teams acumen. "A lot of teams have been bringing up special teams," Kamara said.

DESMOND KING , CB, IOWA: He had eight interceptions as a junior and three as a senior. "I had a really good special teams season," King said. "Not being targeted as much, I still went out there and competed the best I could and was still making plays."

CHRIS WORMLEY , DE, MICHIGAN: Wormley touts playing for Jim Harbaugh as one of his attributes. "Coach Harbaugh came in and ran our program like an NFL program, like he had with the 49ers," said Wormley, who blocked three kicks his senior season.

ZAY JONES , WR, EAST CAROLINA: Like McCaffrey, he has good NFL bloodlines (son of Robert Jones, brother of Cayleb Jones). He caught 158 passes as a senior, but spent his first two seasons in college also making his mark as a returner.

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

josh-jackson-kansas-ap.jpg

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.