Kaepernick has a special day for Nevada
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Nevada coach Chris Ault admitted he was concerned how redshirt freshman Colin Kaepernick would handle noisy Bronco Stadium in his collegiate starting debut.
He shouldn’t have been. Kaepernick’s starting debut was second to none. He handled his situation with the aplomb of a seasoned veteran, and in fact almost engineered the biggest win in school history.
Kaepernick rushed for a career-high 177 yards and two touchdowns, and passed for 243 yards with three more scores., including a career-best 58-yard scoring strike to Marko Mitchell.
“It’s good to know that I did play well,” Kaepernick said. “It’s still a loss, though, whether it’s by two points or 40 points. We’re 2-4 and we have to get back on track.”
That’s the kind of stuff you like to hear out of player’s mouth, and Kaeprnick is sincere enough that you believe him.
“He managed the game well,” Ault said before Monday’s practice. “In a pressure situation, he played well. You never know how somebody is going to handle things, especially at a stadium like Boise State.
“His success was set up by the offensive line. They finally came together and played their best game. We knew he had the talent (to do this). Both kids (Kaepernick and Graziano) are great athletes.”
True, Kaepernick and Graziano can run. However, Kaepernick is the faster of the duo. He tends to run around defenders or make them miss, and his long legs eat up yardage faster than you can say Jackie Robinson. Graziano is more likely to bowl defenders over with his strong upper body.
“Anytime you have a running quarterback, it’s another thing the defense has to pay attention to,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “He did a great job in a hostile environment; not letting things rattle him at all.”
Bronco Stadium has been a graveyard for Nevada in recent years, and Kaepernick almost sent the Broncos to death in their own yard.
The young quarterback ran bootlegs, he had success with zone read plays and he showed off his strong arm, too.
“It’s a change,” Ault said of the zone read plays. “We’ve done it in the past, though. We did it with other quarterbacks. It’s a nice change-up. You get them to focus on something else.
“His success was set up first by the offensive line. They (the line) played as good as they can play. Graz (Nick Graziano) runs the same plays. We took advantage of some situations.”
Kaepernick had scoring runs of 25 and 9 yards, respectively. He also had non-scoring runs of 28 and 55 yards, the latter set up the 9-yard scoring dash that tied the game at 41 in the fourth quarter.
“Those were called plays,” Ault said. “There were only a couple of times that he scrambled.”
Kaepernick came within 10 yards of being the Pack’s leading rusher. Luke Lippincott enjoyed a career game with 187 yards and four touchdowns, two in regulation and two more in the overtime periods.
Lippincott praised his young teammate.
“He was awesome,” Lippincott said. “He did everything and more than expected. I feel like he has a great future.”
Kaepernick said the sky is the limit with the offense that Ault continues to tinker with on a daily basis, and based on Sunday night, you have to believe him.