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October 17, 2007

Kaepernick off to fast start for Wolf Pack

Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada

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
Most of the Bulldogs' tailbacks have been hit by the injury bug, but not Moreno, who ran for 157 yards in a 20-17 win at Vanderbilt.


QB Dwight Dasher, Middle Tennessee
He amassed 410 yards of total offense (180 rushing yards, 230 passing yards) and accounted for two touchdowns in a 21-7 upset at Memphis.


RB Harvey Unga, BYU
Unga kept BYU undefeated in the Mountain West with 177 yards and a touchdown to go with five receptions for 44 yards in a 24-17 win over UNLV.


RB LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
McCoy's 165-yard, three-touchdown day was lost in a 48-45 loss to Navy in double-overtime.




Andre' Woodson
Quarterback
Kentucky



What's that about Woodson not being a Heisman candidate after a lackluster performance against South Carolina? LSU might disagree.

Woodson re-established his spot as one of the top quarterbacks in the country by going 21 of 38 for 250 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions, in the Wildcats' 43-37 triple-overtime win over the Tigers.

OTHER NOMINEES:

QB Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
Harrell gave Tech its first win over a Big 12 South team by going 30-of-37 for 425 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-7 rout of Texas A&M.


QB C.J. Bacher, Northwestern
Bacher led the Wildcats to their second consecutive overtime victory, going 41 of 58 for 470 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-48 win over Minnesota. He has thrown for 990 yards in the past two games.


WR Donnie Avery, Houston
Avery set Conference USA records with 356 receiving yards and 427 all-purpose yards in a 56-48 win over Rice. He is just the third I-A receiver ever to go over 300 yards in a game.


WB Chad Hall, Air Force
Hall set a school record with 256 rushing yards in a 45-21 win over Colorado State. He also ran for four touchdowns.



Joker Phillips
Offensive Coordinator
Kentucky



In a sweep of the player and coordinator of the week awards for Kentucky, Wildcats offensive coordinator Joker Phillips earns National Coordinator of the Week honors.

Kentucky's offense took some of the luster off LSU's defense by amassing 375 total yards and 43 points.

More impressive, Phillips did it while down to his third-string tailback, Derrick Locke. The Wildcats played sound football by not allowing a sack and continuing to run even though they didn't always have success.

OTHER NOMINEES:

Norm Parker, Iowa
Parker's defense held the Illinois offense to only 287 yards and kept the Illini from finding the end zone in a 10-6 win.


Will Muschamp, Auburn
Muschamp has his defense running at full speed. Auburn held Arkansas to only 67 rushing yards in a 9-7 victory.


Ruffin McNeill, Texas Tech
Tech's defense has rebounded since changing coordinators at the end of September. Texas A&M was shut out for the final three quarters in a 35-7 loss to the Red Raiders.


Wally Burnham, South Florida
The Bulls held the nation's leading rushing leader, Kevin Smith, to 55 yards and no touchdowns in a 64-12 rout of the Knights.



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