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 cruises past Utah, moves within one game of Pac-12 lead

Warm applause greeted Jordan Adams as he sat down on UCLA’s bench, leaving a blowout win with over eight minutes left on the clock.

The sophomore guard could’ve easily topped his career-high, but his Bruins were already well on their way to a 80-66 victory over Utah — one that featured yet another explosive second half. No sense in risking injury to their leading scorer.

Even without needing him for nearly a quarter of the game, UCLA now sits just one game back from Arizona for first in the Pac-12.

Adams finished with 24 points, knocking down all three of his attempts from downtown and shooting 10-of-14 overall. Continue reading

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What to watch: Utah at UCLA

Utah (17-7, 6-6) at UCLA (19-5, 8-3)
Saturday, 2 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: Pac-12 Networks (JB Long, Don MacLean)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

No. 1: How will Utah fare away from home? On Thursday, the Utes beat USC to finally notch their first road win since Jan. 19, 2013. With a trip through the Bay Area still looming, it may very well be their last of the regular season.

Most bothersome for the up-and-coming program is the inability to finish on the road. In their five road losses in conference play, they thrice blew double-digit leads.

The Bruins had one of their worst offensive halves of the season in Salt Lake City last month, and haven’t completely shaken the slow-start bug since. They can’t afford losing at Pauley Pavilion to a lesser team, not when first place is within sights again thanks to Arizona State’s upset of Arizona.

No. 2: Delon Wright. The younger brother of NBA forward Dorell Wright turned out to be a major recruiting coup for the Utes, transferring from the City College of San Francisco to become their most versatile player. Continue reading

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Bruins’ comeback stalls in 74-69 loss at Utah

UCLA snuck back into the Associated Press poll a week ago, and will almost certainly drop out again on Monday after a loss to unranked Utah.

This is what the Bruins are now: a borderline top-25 team that followed up its first win over a ranked team with a 74-69 loss in Salt Lake City.

After beating No. 21 Colorado on Thursday, they opened the afternoon in Salt Lake City with a sloppy effort on both ends. The awful first half — 31 percent shooting, 48.3 percent allowed — sank UCLA, whose late run fell short before a crowd of 12,267 at the Huntsman Center.

After scoring a season-low six points at Colorado on Thursday, Kyle Anderson finished with a career-high 28 points, with 13 coming before halftime. He also chipped in seven rebounds and seven assists, but coughed the ball up five times.

He shot 10 of 16 from the field. His teammates were a combined 17 of 47. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Former Ute succumbing to cancer

– Bronzell Miller might be dead by the time you read this. The former Utah linebacker is battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, and may only have a week left to live.

– Bellevue standout and UCLA recruiting target Budda Baker is still waiting for the release of his brother Robert, imprisoned for first-degree robbery and possession of a firearm.

– How did Tad Boyle turn Colorado into a contender?

– “But the difference between being a head football coach in college and the NFL is like the difference between Wal-Mart and Wall Street.” Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Should USC hire Ed Orgeron?

– After an upset of Stanford, many USC players called for the school to retain Ed Orgeron as head coach. NBC Sports’ Chris Huston, also known as the Heisman Pundit, argues against removing the “interim” tag.

– Utah quarterback Travis Wilson’s career might be over after a post-concussion exam revealed a pre-existing neurological condition.

– Washington State has extended Mike Leach through the 2018 season.

– Arizona State’s secondary has a club called the, uh, “Bird Gang.” Members must abide by three rules. Continue reading

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Center Jake Brendel attributes low snaps to ‘shortcut’

Center Jake Brendel snapped several balls low throughout UCLA’s 34-27 win at Utah, a nagging issue that could have resulted in a game-costing play. Coaches said the use of a silent count as well as playing next to two freshmen made the game more difficult for the redshirt sophomore, but he didn’t use them as excuses.

“I was taking a little bit of a shortcut,” Brendel said. “The snap process, getting my right hand into the block a little too early. (Now, I’m) just making sure I’m taking the full stroke of the snap … instead of short-stroking it.”

He tried to fix the problem as the game went on, but said it took long to overcome the muscle memory.

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Quarterback Brett Hundley discusses his blurred vision at Utah

Quarterback Brett Hundley told reporters Monday that the blurred vision that forced him to sit out a brief part of UCLA’s 34-27 win at Utah was due to a lost contact lens.

Hundley said there was no worry about a possible concussion: “I felt perfectly fine. That’s what I was telling them (the trainers). It was blurry and I lost a contact. I had to come out for a second and let my eye adjust.”

His clarification was a little less dramatic than his post-game explanation last Thursday. “I got smacked when I went down,” Hundley said then, adding that his vision blurred after he hit his head on the ground. “I tried to look at the line of scrimmage and I was seeing like 22 people. Honestly, I just saw two of everything.”

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Penalties still plague Jim Mora and Bruins

After UCLA committed just three penalties in last month’s win at Nebraska, head coach Jim Mora warned against thinking 2012′s woes gone. The Bruins had finished their first season under Mora as the most penalized team in college football. It would take more than one performance to erase those issues.

He was right. In the two games since, the Bruins have committed 28 penalties for 238 yards. Thirteen came Thursday during their 34-27 win at Utah, costing them 100 yards in a game that wasn’t decided until the final 26 seconds. Across the country, only Washington has seen more flags.

“I’m a little befuddled right now,” Mora said afterward.

Only 10 of their 13 penalties in Salt Lake City concerned him, however. Continue reading

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