Kaepernick set to start against Boise State
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Colin Kaepernick’s first start in a Nevada football uniform comes against perennial powerhouse Boise State on the famed blue turf and before a national television audience. Talk about tough.
“I’m definitely not afraid,” Kaepernick said prior to Monday’s practice. “I’ve been ready to play. I’ve prepared like I’m going to play. It’s going to be a good game. We need to get back in the conference race.”
On the outside, Kaepernick is calm. He said he gets anxious, but isn’t jittery before a game.
Even if Kaepernick doesn’t know what’s ahead, coach Chris Ault does. Boise State has won the last seven meetings between the schools, and it’s been by an embarrassing 346-76 margin.
“He’s never played at Boise,” Ault said. “He was with us last year for the bowl game. It’s a whole new ballgame, though.
“We’ll give him things; things that he can execute.”
If Kaepernick executes anywhere close to how he did last weekend against Fresno State when he nearly brought the team all the way back from a 49-20 deficit, the Nevada offense is in good hands.
“He’s very intelligent,” Ault said. “He’s been ready to play. I probably should have played him against UNLV when Nick was struggling.
“He played very well. He managed the game and brought us back in the fourth quarter. He’s as good of a running quarterback as we’ve had here. The last guy we had here (like that) was Chris Vargas. He’d find a way to get it done.”
Kaepernick completed 23 of 36 passes for 384 yards and four scores, and he also gained 60 yards on the ground and added another TD after taking over for the injured Nick Graziano, who had season-ending foot surgery on Monday.
“He had an excellent performance,” wide receiver Kyle Sammons said. “He’d been doing real well in practice. We’re not going to change a whole lot with him in there.”
Kaepernick certainly impressed Fresno State coach Pat Hill.
“He put up great numbers,” Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. “I thought he did a good job. We were playing off in coverage, and he did a good job of getting the ball out in the flats. When he stayed in the pocket, he made a couple of big plays.
“He did it with his feet (too). I think he had a lot of 1 and gos. What I mean by that is initial read wasn’t there, he took off. I thought he was a good player coming out of high school. It’s unfortunate what happened to Nick (Graziano). Colin is a guy that can keep that good Nevada offense operating.”
Kaepernick certainly runs better than Graziano, but with Graziano out for the season and two true freshmen behind him, the 6-foot-6 quarterback has to be careful about taking on defenders in the open field.
In other words, there is safety in the slide, and there are times when Ault will want him to do just that. With untested Luke Collis and Pete Murdacha on the bench, Nevada can ill afford another injury at the quarterback position.
“Sure, I’ve talked about it with him,” Ault said. “You can’t back off the offense too much. A running quarterback, that’s part of our offense.”
“We had a talk,” Kaepernick said. “Coach wants me to get down (at times). As close as I can get to the goal line, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Sounds a little bit like Steve Young.
As well as Kaepernick played, there were still mistakes made. Some small and some big. The biggest problem for Kaepernick is that he had several passes batted down, which shouldn’t happen when you’re 6-foot-6.
“He wants me to work on my release,” Kaepernick said. “I was dropping down a little bit.”
In fact, Kaepernick spent the first few minutes of Monday’s practice working on a more over-the-top release.