Running back by committee for Nevada

RENO " Nevada football coach Chris Ault said the Pack's offensive scheme won't change with senior Luke Lippincott sidelined for the season with a knee injury.

Replacing Lippincott, who rushed for 1,420 yards and 15 TDs last year, won't be easy. The Pack, who visit No. 6 Missouri Saturday at 9:30 a.m., will use a committee approach with junior Brandon Fragger, sophomore Vai Taua, Courtney Randall and redshirt freshman Lampford Mark. The latter has yet to play a snap this season because of injuries.

The trio has played well thus far. Fragger has carried 19 times for 127 yards and a score, while Taua has gained 166 yards and scored twice. One of Taua's runs was a 62-yarder against Grambling State. Randall gained 29 yards on six carries against Grambling State, but didn't get a carry against Texas Tech.

"Our offense is our offense," Ault said. "I think we have pretty good depth, but they haven't had to play a whole game; be the guy."

According to Jim Mastro, the Pack's running backs coach, each of the backs brings something different to the offense.

"Brandon gives us the the threat of the home run ball," Mastro said. "He's capable of scoring from anywhere. I can't say that Luke didn't have that. Lampford has to prove he can stay healthy. He is the fastest guy on the team. He has great vision.

"Courtney is a tough runner. Vai is a totally different kid from last year; a lot more mature. I think he looked at Luke's work ethic and figured out if he wanted to play he needed to be more like that guy (Lippincott). We'll put Lampford in the (practice) rotation. If he practices well, he'll play. I'd like to see all four of them play."

Taua, who left the team for a brief time last year, was saddened by Lippincott's injury. The 225-pound running back said Saturday he was excited about the opportunity, however.

"The main thing is that we can't have a drop-off," he said. "I am excited. It's more focusing for me. I'll be a lot more focused.

"I want to try to make plays; make something happen. I understand things much better this year than I did last year."

Fragger missed much of last year with a shoulder injury. The only knock could be his durability. The 5-9 195-pounder ran for 146 yards and two scores in 2006 against UNLV, which was his first start.

"I know it's on us right now," Fragger said. "All I can do is prepare myself like I do every week. We have to work hard to fill that spot.

"This is another game to us. We know we can do this after last week's game. We're ready for the challenge."


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