Five questions: Daily Camera’s Kyle Ringo talks Colorado

Colorado is still searching for its second conference win under head coach Mike MacIntyre, while UCLA is still searching for its first complete performance since a blowout win at Arizona State last month. The Buffs and the Bruins don’t have the most storied history, although quarterback Sefo Liufau did try to fight linebacker Anthony Barr after taking a late hit last year. Kyle Ringo from the Boulder Daily Camera answered five questions about the Buffaloes.

1. What were the biggest challenges facing Mike MacIntyre when he first took the Colorado job? Has this season been a bit of a step back after his four-win debut?

The biggest challenge is one shared by all programs that have struggled through multiple losing seasons — it’s tough to recruit to that. He’s approaching the two-year anniversary of his hiring and still struggling to get serious interest from many top-flight recruits. The four-and five-star players want to play for a winner. Most generally don’t want to be a part of building a program into a winner. That made addressing another problem more difficult. He needed to increase the speed and athleticism of his team, which he has done, but there remains work to do there. MacIntyre also took over a program that badly needed some major facilities upgrades. Those are underway now with $181 million project in and around Folsom Field. Finally, I’d say another significant problem he faced, maybe the most significant when it comes to actually making headway, was getting players in the program to develop a culture of caring about each other and playing for each other on Saturdays. He inherited a fractured team with factions and friction.

This season hasn’t been a step back by any means. Continue reading

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First look: Colorado Buffaloes

No. 25 UCLA Bruins (5-2, 2-2) at Colorado Buffaloes (2-5, 0-4)
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 25, 11 a.m. PT, Folsom Field (Boulder, Colo.)
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Kevin Calabro, Yogi Roth, Lewis Johnson)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Coach: Mike MacIntyre oversaw an impressive reconstruction in his three years at San Jose State, going from 1-11 in 2010 to 10-2 in 2012. That earned him a shot at an even more difficult task: rebuilding a Colorado program that had averaged just 3.8 wins in the last six years.

That remains an uphill battle. MacIntyre took the Buffs to four wins in his debut season, but their lone conference victory came against a Cal team that finished 1-11. They are still searching for their second. That very well might not come until 2015: four of Colorado’s last five games are against top-25 opponents, with the lone exception being a five-win Washington squad.

Key players:

QB Sefo Liufau, So., 6-4, 230 — 211/323, 2,030 yards, 21 TD, 9 INT
– He’s improved almost across the board from his freshman season and is on pace to set a new Colorado single-season record in passing yards, but has already topped his interception total from last season. His nine picks rank last in the Pac-12. Continue reading

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UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley scouts Colorado offensive line

Colorado has only given up 12 sacks this season, good for the second-best mark in the Pac-12.

UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley said the key to besting the Buffs is to rely on get-off and speed rushes — as well as using his hands to avoid chop blocks.

“When they try to chop block you, they try to tear your ACL,” McKinley said. “To me, that’s dirty. To them, it’s their job. But to me, it’s pretty dirty.”

Asked if he’d noticed any other Pac-12 teams use chop-blocks, McKinley pointed out Utah — which beat UCLA 30-28. Oregon and Arizona State, on the other hand, weren’t major offenders. “Cal, their running backs did it a lot,” he continued. “I’d come in there full speed, and their little running backs just might go straight for my legs. So did the little tight ends they have.”

» A couple of Bruins are already familiar with Colorado receiver Nelson Spruce.
» Brett Hundley’s turnovers have been particularly untimely for UCLA.

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UCLA’s Oct. 25 game at Colorado scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. PT

UCLA will kick off its Oct. 25 road game against Colorado at 11 a.m. PT, the Bruins’ earliest start since their season opener against Virginia.

The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks, and marks the third straight contest UCLA will start before 1 p.m. PT — following back-to-back 12:30 p.m. kickoffs against Oregon and Cal on FOX and ESPN2, respectively.

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Which players have the best names in the Pac-12?

By now, you’ve read many of the lists that have proliferated in college football’s dry summer months. The best 100 players. The freakiest players. The best coaches, best offseasons, best uniforms.

But this? This is the most important of them all. With Pac-12 Media Days — schedule here — kicking off this morning, I have compiled the five best names from each team in the conference.

Without further ado …

Arizona: Sir Thomas Jackson, Antonio Smothers, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Brogan Kemmerly, Abraham Mendivil

Not great depth here, as the latter two names sacrifice catchiness in favor of length. Still, Sir Thomas Jackson alone is an MVP candidate.

Arizona State: Ezekial Bishop, Demetrius Cherry, Zane Gonzalez, Jaxon Hood, Jaelen Strong

A solid quintet that lacks a superstar.

Cal: Hardy Nickerson, Avery Sebastian, Bryce Treggs, Brennan Scarlett, Maximo Espitia

A nice throwback in Hardy Nickerson, bookended by a name that makes me want to re-watch Russell Crowe take on a despotic Joaquin Phoenix. Continue reading

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UCLA clinches No. 2 seed in Pac-12 Tournament

UCLA hasn’t played yet this week, but games elsewhere in the Pac-12 sealed the Bruins a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. The team will start its Las Vegas schedule with a 6 p.m. tipoff on Pac-12 Networks next Thursday.

Colorado helped UCLA by beating Stanford, 59-56, Wednesday night and knocking the Cardinal to 9-8 in league play. Arizona State also fell out of the race for second one night prior with a loss to Oregon.

The Buffaloes and Sun Devils are sitting at 10-7, leaving them 1.5 games behind the Bruins. Even if UCLA loses to both Washington and Washington State to end the season, it would head head-to-head tiebreakers against both in the event of a three-way tie.

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UCLA beats Colorado with second-half flurry

With just over a minute left on the game clock, Pauley Pavilion let out a collective gasp — one mixed in equal parts disappointment and disbelief.

No, it’s not the game that was in question. UCLA already led by double digits, and was comfortably on its way to a 92-74 win over Colorado on Thursday night.

It’s just that the home crowd had grown so accustomed to long bombs finding nothing but net. And by the time David Wear’s 3-point attempt spun out in a game long decided, those 8,431 had perhaps only hazy memories of what misses looked like.

Late is better than never. After an underwhelming start to its rematch against Colorado — 10 assists to seven turnovers through the first 20 minutes — UCLA (19-5, 8-3) found its groove and cruised to its fourth straight home victory.

The Bruins shot 8-of-12 from beyond the arc in the second half, and 20-of-32 overall. On the night, they finished 11-of-22 from long range. Continue reading

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What to watch: Colorado at UCLA

Colorado (18-6, 7-4) at UCLA (18-5, 7-3)
Thursday, 6 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, Bill Walton)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

No. 1: Norman Powell vs. Askia Booker. Last time these two met, UCLA’s junior guard had 19 points to his counterpart’s game-high 21. Powell is a strong man-to-man defender, so it’s Booker — two inches shorter, 45 pounds lighter — that will likely be at a disadvantage. The Colorado guard picked up four fouls when the Bruins visited Boulder, mostly due to Powell’s skill at driving down the lane.

The two have since blossomed into increasingly important roles for their respective teams. With star guard Spencer Dinwiddie sidelined, Booker is a main reason that the Buffs have won three straight. In his past six games, he is averaging 5.67 assists.

No. 2: The 3-point line. Colorado allows 37.1 percent of opposing shots to come from beyond the arc, which is the worst mark of anyone in the conference besides UCLA (42.2). Continue reading

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UCLA scales Boulder, earns first win over ranked team

For the second year in a row, UCLA leaves Boulder victorious.

The No. 25 Bruins earned their first win over a ranked team Thursday night, beating 21st-ranked Colorado, 69-56. Junior guard Norman Powell led the team with a 19 points, including 13 by halftime. The total tied his season high, and was accompanied by three rebounds and four steals.

Sophomore Jordan Adams had 14 points on an uninspiring 4-of-15 performance from the field, but grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds — six on offense.

That latter number helped UCLA continue its recent trend on the boards. Following strong efforts against No. 1 Arizona and Arizona State, it edged the Buffs with a 41-37 rebounding margin. The team survived an off-night from sophomore point guard Kyle Anderson, who didn’t score in the first half and finished with six points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals. Continue reading

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What to watch: No. 25 UCLA at No. 21 Colorado

No. 25 UCLA (13-3, 2-1) at No. 21 Colorado (14-3, 3-1)
Coors Events Center, Thursday, 5 p.m. PT
Pac-12 Networks (Ted Robinson, Don MacLean, Jill Savage)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

No. 1: Can Colorado still compete without Spencer Dinwiddie? The Buffs have enough talent and a capable coach in Tad Boyle that an NCAA tournament berth isn’t out of the question. But losing their leader in scoring (14.7), assists (3.8), steals (1.5) and 3-point shooting (26 made, at a .413 clip) is a blow that no cumulative effort from the rest of the roster can replace.

Fellow guard Askia Booker already leads the team with 197 field goals attempted — 66 more than Dinwiddie — and is only shooting .381 from the field. Continue reading

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