A second homecoming for Kaepernick
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – Colin Kaepernick is going home this weekend.
The Nevada Wolf Pack senior quarterback will play one last college football game near his hometown of Turlock, Calif., Saturday night (7:30 p.m., ESPN) at Fresno State.
“It is going to feel like being back home for me,” smiled Kaepernick. “A lot of people I know have told me they are going to make that trip and go to the game.”
Kaepernick, whose five touchdown passes led the Wolf Pack over Idaho last Saturday (63-17), graduated from Turlock’s Pitman High. Turlock is located between Modesto and Merced, about 75 miles north of Fresno.
“We’re going to have a lot of support for Nevada at the game,” said Kaepernick, who estimated that about 100 of his friends and family will be at the Western Athletic Conference game.
Kaepernick has played just one other game at Fresno State in his college career, beating the Bulldogs, 41-28, in 2008 as a sophomore. He rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns in that game and passed for 128 yards and a touchdown.
The 6-foot-6 quarterback, who was also a standout baseball pitcher for Pitman High, has played three games against Fresno State, rushing for 273 yards and five touchdowns and passing for 557 yards and five touchdowns.
Kaepernick had his breakout game as a Wolf Pack player against Fresno State, coming into the game in relief of starter Nick Graziano as a freshman in 2007. Kaepernick had one of the best games of his career that afternoon at Mackay Stadium, throwing for 384 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 60 yards and a touchdown in a 49-41 Pack loss. He improved to 2-1 in his career against Fresno by beating the Bulldogs last year in Reno, 52-14, rushing for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
“Fresno always gets a lot of fans at their games,” Kaepernick said. “They like to yell and scream a lot at you. We just need to go out and focus and we’ll be fine.”
Kaepernick said he is looking forward to playing in front of so many familiar faces.
“Whenever you can play in front of family and friends, it’s special,” he said.
GREEN RETURNS TO END ZONE
Wolf Pack tight end Virgil Green caught his first touchdown pass in seven games on Saturday at Idaho. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound senior had not caught a touchdown pass since Week 2 against Colorado State.
Green finished the game at Idaho with three catches for 26 yards, catching a 7-yard pass in the first quarter, a 12-yarder in the second quarter and a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give the Pack a 35-3 lead.
The touchdown was significant since he had not gotten in the end zone in two months. Green caught 10 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns combined in the Pack’s first two games this year and has just 13 catches for 142 yards and one touchdown in the last seven games.
He said Monday, though, that he’s not worried about his personal statistics.
“We have been running the ball very well so if it’s not broke, why fix it?” Green said.
Green said he wasn’t anticipating getting a TD catch against Idaho.
“All I expect every week is to go out and win the game,” he said. “I always prepare for anything. If the ball comes my way I’m going to be ready to contribute. If not, I am ready to contribute in other ways.”
OFFENSE SETS SCHOOL RECORD
The Wolf Pack piled up a school-record 844 yards of offense against Idaho, breaking the record of 794 in 1993 against UNLV when quarterback Chris Vargas passed for 538 yards.
The Pack’s 91 offensive plays also set a record for a Chris Ault-coached team in a non-overtime game.
The Pack record for plays in a game is 114 in a three-overtime playoff game against Furman when Ault was head coach. The Pack record for a non-overtime game is 94, set twice in 1993 when Jeff Horton was the Pack head coach (against Texas Southern and Utah State).
Ault, though, wasn’t as impressed with the 844 yards or 91 plays against Idaho as much as he was another number.
“When you get 844 yards that’s unbelievable, really,” Ault said. “But the thing that stood out to me was the 38 minutes (exactly 38:42) of ball control. That is special. That keeps your defense off the field, keeps them fresh. That’s what really stands out to me.”
The 38:42 possession time is the longest the Pack has controlled the ball in a game since holding it for 39:58 on Oct. 21, 2006 in a 23-7 victory over San Jose State.
MATHEWS HAS BREAKOUT GAME
Rishard Mathews is establishing himself as the Pack’s go-to receiver.
The junior college transfer (Bakersfield College) had seven catches against Idaho for 151 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball once for a 7-yard touchdown.
“All that means is that I’m doing my job, what I’m supposed to do,” the 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver said.
Mathews leads the Wolf Pack this season with 33 catches for 558 yards and three touchdowns.
“It felt good,” said Mathews of his big game at Idaho. “Coach Ault said we were going to throw the ball more in that game and it showed. We just went out and executed the game plan.”