'Get on your horse:' Bucs defense respects Kaepernick's speed
It has been seven years since Jacquies Smith went up against Colin Kaepernick in college, but his memory is vivid.
"The fastest QB I ever played in college," said Smith, who's on injured reserve with a knee injury and won't get to chase him Sunday as the Bucs play at the 49ers. "It's not so much the speed, it's the strides. Once he gets going, it's really unbelievable the speed he can build up. I remember him running the Pistol offense in college. One of the toughest outs I had that whole year."
Smith's Missouri teams beat Kaepernick and Nevada in 2008 (69-17) and in 2009 (31-21), but Smith remembers well how dangerous Kaepernick's dual-threat ability was, both in preparing for the games and in trying to contain him on the field. The Bucs have the same urgency this week as they prepare to face him in his second start of the season.
"You want to keep him in the pocket, don't let him roll out to his throwing hand for sure," Smith said. "You don't want him out in open space, to be able to make those creative plays. I call them 'video game plays,' honestly."
The Bucs faced Kaepernick in 2013, as San Francisco won 33-14 in Tampa, and the remaining Bucs from that team, including DT Gerald McCoy, DT Akeem Spence and LB Lavonte David, remember just how well he's capable of playing.
"He has real athleticism," McCoy said. "There are a lot of athletes in the league at quarterback, but not a lot like him. He can gain ground in a hurry. He's not a quarterback who wastes time making a decision. If he's going to go, he's gone. When he goes, you'd better get on your horse, because he can get downfield quick."
That means the defensive line must stay true to their scheme and occupy their rush lanes -- if one is out of place, Kaepernick is fast enough to turn a small mistake into a big gain downfield, and the Bucs defense respects that threat.
"He has that versatility," said Spence, a rookie when the Bucs last faced Kaepernick in 2013. "He shredded us up in the passing game and in the run game. We know he's very mobile. We have to almost treat him like he's Cam Newton. Just be conscious to make sure we keep him in the pocket."