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November 27, 2009

Moore, Kaepernick fluster foes in different ways

BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore flusters foes with his sniper-like arm, his knack for finding the open guy anywhere on the field and just plain outwitting defensive coordinators.

His Nevada counterpart gives defenses fits in different ways.

Colin Kaepernick is elusive, fast enough to beat linebackers around the edge and unafraid to use his legs to flee a collapsing pocket.

But Moore and Kaepernick also share some common ground.

They are the best quarterbacks in the Western Athletic Conference. Kaepernick was voted the WAC's top offensive player last year, while Moore was named the league's top freshman, and both will be vying for MVP honors at the end of this season.

They are also big reasons why the No. 6 Broncos and streaking Wolfpack (8-3, 7-0 WAC) will play for the conference title Friday night at Bronco Stadium.

"They're so very different, but so very good," said Bronco cornerback Kyle Wilson, who lines up against Moore every day in practice and faced Kaepernick each of the last two seasons. "I'm not sure who I'd rather play against. Pick your poison."

Either way, both are lethal.

Moore has propelled the 11-0 Broncos to a second straight undefeated season thanks to his ability to carve up defensive secondaries. He is the nation's most accurate passer (168.8), has 33 touchdowns and just three picks, his last coming three games and more than 70 throws ago. He orchestrates a Bronco offense that averages a national best 44 points per game and rolls up an average of 456 yards.

He also wins - a lot. Since taking over the Bronco offense at the start of last year, the lefty has compiled a 23-0 regular season record. His only loss was a 17-16 nailbiter against TCU in last year's Poinsettia Bowl.

"Moore has tremendous, tremendous pocket presence," said Nevada coach Chris Ault, who has presided over some of the best passing attacks in WAC history. "And he has excellent skill players at the receiver spots."

But where Moore excels at throwing darts through holes in the defense, Kaepernick prefers to run through them.

Five times this season Kaepernick has rushed for more than 100 yards. He is one of three Wolfpack players to rush for more than 1,000 yards this season and his 2,738 career rushing yards place him 15th all time among NCAA quarterbacks.

He also knows how to frustrate the Broncos.

In fact, Kaepernick had his coming out party in Boise two years ago when the Broncos edged the Wolfpack in four overtimes 69-67, the most points scored in a game since record keeping began in 1937. As a redshirt freshman making his first start, Kaepernick was a one-man Bronco buster, throwing three TDs, running for two more and accounting for 420 total yards in the thriller.

The 6-foot, six-inch junior has been hard to stop ever since. Along with running backs Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott, Kaepernick leads the nation's best rushing attack, a unit that has trampled opponents for an average of 455 yards on the ground during the Wolfpack's eight-game winning streak.

Boise State's stingy defense will be focused on stopping the run. But coach Chris Petersen says it'd be foolish to ignore Kaepernick's ability to pass and make plays while scrambling.

"I think he's just taken a step every year. And they've honed him in to exactly how they want to use him and play to his strengths," Petersen said. "He can hurt you throwing it, there is no question about it. But even if you've got guys in position, he is fast, fast, fast."

For Moore, there is a mutual respect, if not a little envy. While Moore can be effective dashing from the pocket, he's not feared for his running ability and often takes a ribbing from teammates for his less than fleet feet.

"It'll be fun," Moore joked of the pre-game hype surrounding the high-profile quarterbacks. "Certainly I'm in no way similar to him. He's going to run around and make some plays. It'll be fun watching him. He's one of those dual threat type of guys. It'll be cool."


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