Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – If the first scrimmage of the spring proved anything at all, the quarterback job doesn’t belong to Nick Graziano yet.
Graziano, the much-heralded sophomore, completed just 5-for-14 for 65 yards, including a 25-yard TD pass to Marko Mitchell in the second portion of the 87-play scrimmage Saturday at Mackay Stadium.
His two competitors – redshirt freshmen Colin Kaepernick and Tyler Lantrip – probably outperformed Graziano. Kaepernick completed 4-for-8 for 85 yards and also scored Nevada’s second and last touchdown on an 11-yard run. Lantrip was 2-for-6 for 35 yards.
The TD pass to Mitchell came on the opening possession of the second half, capping a 65-yard drive. The TD came on a third-and-11 play, as Graziano lofted a pass down the left sideline. The 6-4 Mitchell, who was working against 5-10 Paul Pratt, did a nice job of coming back for the underthrown pass.
“I’m just going to look at film and see what I did wrong and what I need to work on for the next scrimmage,” Graziano said. “I wish I could have performed better.”
Graziano, who failed to get a first down on his first eight possessions of the scrimmage, completed 4-for-6 for 65 yards in the second half.
Kaepernick, who completed two of his first three passes, missed on his last three attempts. He too was disappointed with himself.
“I didn’t do as well as I would have liked,” the 6-5 freshman quarterback said. “They don’t expect mistakes from you. I know the offense pretty well. I know the reads I should have.”
Overall, head coach Chris Ault said the play of the quarterback spot was “average.”
“I was disappointed in the quarterback play,” Ault said. “Quarterback is not a one-guy deal. There’s a lot of heat, a lot of fire (among the three players).
“Tyler showed some poise when he got in there. He did a nice job, and he’s gotten the less reps of the three.”
Ault also said the play of the running backs was average. Kevin Grimes, a redshirt freshman, carried 13 times for 46 yards. Courtney Randall had 15 carried for 25 yards. All told, Nevada rushed for 176 yards.
Kyle Sammons had two catches for 27 yards and tight end Talaiasi Puloka grabbed two balls for 28 yards. Brian Fludd, a JC transfer, had one catch for 30 yards.
The defense played extremely well, forcing two turnovers and registering six sacks. Harry Powell had two sacks on back-to-back plays, and Mundrae Clifton, Kevin Porter, Josh Mauga and Jeremy Engstrom contributed one apiece. Clifton also recovered a fumble.
“I thought our 1s did a nice job flying around on defense,” said Nevada defensive coordinator Ken Wilson. “They were playing fast. We have to get our back-ups to step up.
“They (the offense) ran a few things we haven’t seen. They were trying to get the power game. We need to see the powers and counters. They do a lot of stuff.”
The offense averaged only a shade over three yards on running plays, and it didn’t surprise Ault that the defense, led by Matt Hines, Clifton, Mauga and Ezra Butler, handled the running game easily.
“The run defense should be strong,” Ault said. “The defense is always ahead of the offense.”
Nevada will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday before scrimmaging at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mackay Stadium.
•Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1281