RENO - It took five weeks, but Nevada redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernick finally was rewarded for his stellar play.
Kaepernick, who completed 15-of-28 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns, and also ran for 136 yards and two scores, was named the Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his role in Nevada's 40-38 come-from-behind win over New Mexico State Friday night.
"He had a great game," Nevada coach Chris Ault told reporters on the weekly WAC teleconference. "He had two touchdown runs of over 30 yards. He gives us another dimension when he's out there.
"He threw the ball well. He still has some improvement (to be made). He missed some easy stuff that he usually doesn't miss. He managed the game very well."
When you look at some of the numbers that Kaepernick has put up since taking over for injured Nick Graziano - 444 combined rushing and passing yards and five touchdowns against Fresno State, and more than 400 combined yards and five touchdowns against Boise State - you wonder why it took so long for the WAC to honor Nevada's 6-foot-6 gunslinger.
"Actually, I just found out before pictures," Kaepernick said. "I didn't realize it. It's part of playing. I had a good game, and things turned out that way. It's a good award to get, but this was more about getting a win and moving toward a bowl game."
Kaepernick engineered three fourth-quarter scoring drives to help stretch Nevada's winning streak to three. At 5-4 overall and 3-2 in conference, Nevada is one game away from being bowl eligible.
The first two scores in the fourth quarter came on an option play and a quarterback draw, respectively. Kaepernick hit Mike McCoy with a 31-yard scoring pass with a minute left in the game.
Kaepernick was asked what gave him a better feeling - running for a touchdown or throwing a long pass for a score.
"Both always are good," Kaepernick said. "Both put points on the board."
The Nevada star has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,248 yards and 13 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He's also the second-leading rusher on the team with 465 yards and five scores.
Considered one of the hottest quarterbacks in the WAC, his next game will be against Hawaii and its star quarterback, Colt Brennan. It presents another chance for Kaepernick to shine on national TV.
"It's a great opportunity for us - a chance to get a big win," Kaepernick said.
And the way to beat Hawaii is to limit the chances the Warriors offense has to score. Kaepernick knows that all too well.
He knows that it's important to run the ball and take time off the clock. That is usually the way to beat explosive teams like the Warriors.
NOTES: Nevada offensive lineman Greg Hall won the Basalite Big Blocker Award for his effort against New Mexico State ... Ault lauded the special teams play, which came through nicely for the second consecutive week ... Nevada will practice today, Wednesday and Thursday, and then the players will do some light running Friday before being freed up for the weekend ... Some of the assistants will be out in the field recruiting this weekend. The first signing date for junior college transfers is in December ... Reserve center Josh Catapano is back at practice, and Nevada is hopeful that safety/cornerback Jon Amaya will be able to play against Hawaii.
• Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281