Graziano pegged to start vs. Nebraska
BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO - As expected, Nevada head football coach Chris Ault named sophomore Nick Graziano the starting quarterback for Saturday's season-opener at 19th-ranked Nebraska.
Ault said during Monday's weekly Western Athletic Conference teleconference that redshirt freshman Colin Kaepernick also will see action.
"Both of the quarterbacks looked very good in fall camp," Ault said after the Wolf Pack's practice Monday. "Graz has earned the starting job but Kap is going to play as well."
"They are both very talented. No matter who started, we have two fine athletes at quarterback. They have been bright spots (in camp). They allow us to be able to do certain things that we haven't done in the past."
The numbers in the two scrimmages favored Graziano.
Graziano completed 29-of-45 for 378 yards and two touchdowns in two scrimmages where stats were kept. Kaepernick completed 12-of-21 attempts for 174 yards and a score. Kaepernick did have a 59-yard TD run in the Pack's second scrimmage.
Also, Graziano is the only quarterback on Nevada's roster with game experience. He attempted 17 passes last year, completing nine, including one for a touchdown. Kaepernick redshirted last season. True freshman Luke Collis has made the team's traveling squad and will serve as the third-string quarterback if needed, but Ault has made no secret of the fact that he would like to redshirt the true freshman.
Both quarterbacks like to run, and the Pack ran some option during spring and fall practice. Jeff Rowe, last-year's starter, had success scrambling, and both Graziano and Kaepernick have shown the ability to not only escape pressure, but to run on pre-designed plays.
"We want quarterbacks to be able to run with the changes we've made in the offense," Ault said recently.
Ault pointed out that a quarterback with the ability to run is just one more thing for the opposing defense to worry about.
Both youngsters are excited about the prospect of playing at nationally ranked Nebraska this week where a crowd of more than 80,000 is expected.
"It's real exciting," Graziano said. "Hopefully we'll get off to a good start and see where it takes us. We're going to run plays we've had success with, and that's what we have to stick with."
Kaepernick said preparation hasn't been any different this week, save for the piped-in noise during practices last week.
"We're going to prepare for this game like we do for any other game," Kaepernick said. "On film, they seem to be pretty basic. They don't disguise their coverages a whole lot. I'm going to continue to work hard and be ready."
Ault said he's not big on consistently splitting time with quarterbacks. He prefers to have one starter. Ault also pointed out that only once has he played two quarterbacks on a regular basis during a season.
• Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281