It looks like San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (a Nevada grad) left behind his own little Mini Me — signal-caller Cody Fajardo.
In last week’s 58-20 loss at UCLA, Wolf Pack junior Fajardo passed for 164 yards and rushed for 106 while scoring the only two Nevada touchdowns.
With one man accounting for most of the Wolf Pack’s 353 total yards, the challenge on Saturday for visiting UC Davis is clear: stop the not-so-tiny (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) Mini Me.
“Our defense has to be extremely disciplined,” Aggie coach Ron Gould told The Enterprise. “What they do is not conventional. You have to be disciplined with your eyes, disciplined with your reads. Trust what you see, then go execute.”
The pistol offense — a favorite of the retired Nevada Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault, who will be honored at Saturday’s game — has been embraced by first-year Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian.
While a team like No. 21 UCLA can blow up even the best of Football Bowl Subdivision running games, the Bruins nonetheless had trouble containing Fajardo and his read-option running game.
It’s imperative for the Aggie line to hold sway. Guys like defensive tackles Anthony Kaspar and Kyle DeVaughn will be asked to clog the middle while Khalid Jones and Marques Barron and friends will be asked to get to Fajardo — or redirect him to a waiting teammate.
Linebackers Steven Pitts, Ryan Dimino and Jonathan Bias are going to have to be the first wave in the gaps once the Aggie D-line digs in.
The secondary, brilliant in the 10-7 loss at South Dakota, is going to have to trust its instincts — know where Fajardo is and what he’s planning on doing.
If there’s a mind reader among safeties Aaryn Jones and Charles Boyett or corners Shamawn Wright and Jonathan Perkins, it couldn’t hurt.
Despite Saturday’s usually daunting task of a Football Championship Subdivision squad trying to take down an FBS home team, Gould believes his guys are up to the task.
“It’s not about the opponent. It’s about what we do,” he said after another solid practice on Thursday. “We talked about the focus; trust their training; trust the scheme. That’s what’s going to get you (better). Continue to work hard, which they did. … It was a phenomenal week of practice. The energy was great.”
Gabe Manzanares, the City College of San Francisco transfer who gained 91 yards in his Division I debut, will start at running back with Tavior Mowry and a healed Manusamoa Luuga (hamstring) sharing second-back duties. Colton Silveria (hip), last season’s top Aggie ground gainer, has recovered sufficiently to be back on the field and fans might see a bigger role for All-Big Sky preseason FB Dalton Turay, who didn’t touch the ball in the opener.
“Manu is a lot better,” Gould added. “And with Colton back? He’s fast, explosive. He got a little fatigued in camp, but he’s getting stronger. It’ll be great to see him play.”
As it becomes clearer to coaches and fans who the 2013 Aggies are, there’s still an elephant in the room, er, on the field…
Who will start at quarterback?
Boise State transfer Jimmy Laughrea had decent stats during his second-quarter appearance in the opener and threw a called-back touchdown pass. Plus he’s the more mobile of the two QBs.
But this is Randy Wright’s fourth year as a starter and he did direct UCD’s lone scoring drive in Vermillion, S.D. — despite a couple of off-target throws in crucial situations.
While Aggie Nation holds its breath for the announcement, Gould says “it will be a game-time decision.”
Sandwiched between Nevada’s disappointing loss at the Rose Bowl and a trip to Florida State next week, Fajardo said in his weekly media conference that he didn’t think the Wolf Pack would get caught napping against the Aggies.
Historically, UCD (0-1) has had good success against Nevada (0-1), which is now a member of the Mountain West Conference. The series, which began in 1915 with a 14-10 Aggie win, stands at 27-21-3, advantage ‘Pack.
Halftime ceremonies will honor Ault by naming the playing surface after him.
Game time is 6:05 p.m. at Mackay Stadium.
Notes: There is a free Saturday live web feed at www.NevadaWolfPack.TV. A link is available through the schedule page at www.ucdavisaggies.com. KHTK also broadcasts the game on 1140 AM. … Polian is the son of longtime NFL front-office guru Bill Polian. … Nevada wideout Richy Turner and TE Kolby Arendse (six catches each) were Fajardo’s favorite targets against UCLA. … Speaking of receivers, Aggie Corey Galindo needs only 29 yards to reach 1,000 for his career. Slot maven Tom Hemmingsen — back after missing 2012 due to injury — will reach the plateau with another 222 yards through the air. From the It’s Loud Dept.: Gould piped in crowd noise at practice during the week because the 30,000-seat Mackay Stadium gets loud. Gould knows from his Cal days: “It’s a great crowd base … amped and ready to go. You talk about a 12th Man … they get a little loud in there.”
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047.