What to watch: No. 25 UCLA at Colorado

UCLA hasn’t put together a complete game since a blowout win at Arizona State last month. Today’s 11 a.m. PT kickoff at Colorado — arguably the worst team in the Pac-12 — gives the Bruins their best chance to do so again before a their schedule heats up.

A few things to watch for in today’s matchup:

UCLA offense vs. Colorado defense: Brett Hundley is going to leave UCLA as one of its best quarterbacks ever. This has been clear for so long now that little he’s done this season has raised any eyebrows.

He only needs two more touchdown passes to tie the school’s all-time record of 68, set by Cade McNown from 1995-98. He is 2,371 yards behind McNown’s all-time record for passing yards (10,708), though he’s on pace to finish about 200 yards short. He has eclipsed 300 passing yards eight times in his career, doing it three times this season; three more will tie McNown’s mark too.

“Our expectations of him are maybe a little unrealistic,” head coach Jim Mora said this week. “Those are numbers we should be celebrating.”

This is not to say that Hundley is without flaws. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Mora won’t commit to starting Conor McDermott at left tackle

UCLA head coach Jim Mora wouldn’t commit to 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore Conor McDermott making his second consecutive start at left tackle on Saturday.

With injuries and inexperience having limited him to 22 snaps entering last week’s surprise start, McDermott held up impressively for 89 plays in Saturday’s 36-34 win over Cal.

With McDermott’s start shifting former left tackle Malcolm Bunche to guard, an offensive line that allowed 24 sacks in the first six games gave up just one to Cal.

Mora, however, is still cautiously approaching his use of McDermott entering Saturday’s meeting with Colorado.

“Has he done enough to stay in the starting lineup? Yes,” Mora said. “Will he? We’ll see.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Schedule lines up to honor David Quessenberry’s battle with cancer

UCLA’s matchup with Colorado on Saturday couldn’t be better timed as far as Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre is concerned. It falls on the same weekend as San Jose State’s game at Navy, creating a confluence of the four teams with strong ties to Houston Texans second-year offensive lineman David Quessenberry.

Quessenberry, who was diagnosed with lymphoma over the summer, will be honored when all four teams wear stickers with his initials on their helmets, including Quessenberry’s two younger brothers.

UCLA starting right guard Scott Quessenberry and Navy defensive end Paul Quessenberry are just two of the people involved in the pair of games that have relationships with the 24-year-old David. MacIntyre, in his second season at Colorado, was the head coach at San Jose State when David Quessenberry arrived as a walk-on tight end before transforming into a 2013 sixth-round draft pick.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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.”

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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email