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October 17, 2007
Kaepernick off to fast start for Wolf Pack
Nevada likes to call its primary offensive formation "The Pistol."
To Boise State on Sunday night, the Wolf Pack offense -- which is coach Chris Ault's variation on the shotgun -- must have seemed like a bazooka.
Led by redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Nevada fell a two-point conversion shy in quadruple-overtime of being the first WAC team to beat Boise State on the blue turf in 26 tries.
The Wolf Pack lost 69-67 in a shootout that set the record for points in a Division I-A game. Kaepernick was on the losing end, but he still is the Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week for his part in going toe-to-toe with the Broncos in his first career start.
Kaepernick and the Wolf Pack moved the ball almost at will, compiling 639 total yards and seven scoring drives during regulation. Kaepernick passed for the big play and sliced through Boise's defense -- which had been ranked third in the nation -- for sizable runs.
"When it happens, you don't really realize until after," Kaepernick said. "When you're in the game, you're more worried about moving the ball and getting that first down and winning. Afterward, it's a little surreal."
Kaepernick stepped in for starter Nick Graziano against Fresno State on Oct. 6 when Graziano's season ended with a torn tendon in his right foot. Kaepernick threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score in the 49-41 loss to the Bulldogs, but he'd soon upstage himself.
Kaepernick, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound redshirt freshman from Turlock, Calif., was 11 of 26 for 243 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 177 yards and two scores against Boise State. But he and the Wolf Pack came short of extending the game to a fifth overtime when he was tackled on a two-point conversion attempt.
"We told each other (on offense) we'll be here all night if we have to match them every time down," Kaepernick said.
When Nevada needed the big play, Kaepernick was there to provide it. He accounted for seven plays of at least 25 yards, most coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. Four of his five touchdowns tied the game.
Kaepernick's biggest impact came in the second half, when Nevada tweaked its offense to include more zone reads, which gave him more freedom to run. He responded with eight carries for 162 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime alone.
"It's a change up for us," Ault said. "We've done it in the past. It wasn't a secret. We felt in the second half it might be a nice change up to get their focus on our base stuff."
Despite the breakout game for Kaepernick, he's still 0-2 in his first extended duty as a quarterback, a stat he'd like to change.
"We played hard and we played well, but it's still a loss no matter if you lose in four overtimes or you lose by 90," Kaepernick said.
OTHER NOMINEES FOR FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK:
TB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia
QB Dwight Dasher, Middle Tennessee
RB Harvey Unga, BYU
RB LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh