Graziano strong for Wolf Pack
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Sophomore quarterback Nick Graziano was comfortable at the outset of Saturday’s annual Spring Game, and he stayed that way.
Graziano, Nevada’s projected starting quarterback, completed 10 of 13 passes for 150 yards, and he rushed four times for 24 yards and two scores, as the offense enjoyed its best effort of the spring Saturday afternoon at Mackay Stadium.
All told, Nevada’s offense scored four times in the 78-play scrimmage. Besides Graziano’s two scores (7 and 11 yards), back-up quarterback Colin Kaepernick scored on a 6-yard run and Kevin Grimes scored on a 1-yard run.
“I was very pleased with the offense today, and with all three quarterbacks in particular,” Nevada head coach Chris Ault said. “The quarterbacks had their best days of the spring.
“I thought he (Graziano) played with more confidence. He didn’t make mental mistakes he made before (previous two scrimmages). It was a dramatic improvement. I thought Colin played well, and I thought Tyler (Lantrip) did well.”
Kaepernick was 5-for-9 passing for 67 yards with one interception, and he ran seven times for 43 yards. Lantrip was 3-for-5 for 51 yards, and he scrambled three times for 15 yards.
Yet it was Graziano, who stole the show from the outset, completing seven of his first eight passes. His 7-yard run on an option play capped the Pack’s first scoring drive, and four series’ later, he found an open running lane and scrambled 11 yards for a TD.
“It’s a good feeling,” Graziano said. “I was frustrated after the first two scrimmages. I got to go in and watch film and see what they were doing. I was more confident and got more comfortable.”
Graziano and Kaepernick both appeared comfortable running the option, and it’s obvious that will become a big part of the Pack’s offense heading into the 2007 season. On both of the option scores, the quarterbacks did a nice job hiding the ball, as much of the defense swarmed to the middle.
“It’s a nice change-up,” Graziano said. “It seems to be working well.”
Graziano’s second running TD came on a play-action pass. He tucked the ball and scrambled in from the 11.
“They (the receivers) were open,” Graziano said. “I just saw a running lane open and took off.”
Marko Mitchell led the receivers with four catches for 58 yards, and JC transfer Brian Fluud caught three balls for 51 yards.
The running backs struggled for the second time in three weeks. The three QBs accounted for 82 yards rushing, and the running backs carried 21 times for a disappointing 37 yards.
The defense, which dominated the first two scrimmages, forced four fumbles and intercepted one pass (Jerome Johnson).
Kevin Basped, a redshirt freshman, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and was credited with half a sack. He also had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
“He’s going to be a good football player for us this year,” said Ken Wilson, Nevada’s defensive coordinator. “He’s got to put some weight on. He will help us in pass-rush situations.”
Mike Samples, Mark Berry and Josh Catapano also recovered fumbles for Nevada. Matt Hines, Ezra Butler, Erics Clark, Thomas Flinn, Nate Agaiava and Adam Liranzo all had stops behind the line.
“The quarterbacks made plays today,” Wilson said. “We had some opportunities for sacks and missed, and you can’t do that. We still got some turnovers today.”
Notes: Former Nevada stars Scott Garrison, Jeff Rowe and Joe Garcia watched their former teammates play … Defensive back DeAngelo Wilson has apparently been dismissed from the team … Inside linebacker Josh Mauga missed the scrimmage with a foot injury, and will be ready to go by fall camp, which starts on Aug. 6 … Bullys served free hamburgers to the crowd, which numbered between 300 and 400.
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