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Nickson plans to stay on the run

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt doesn’t plan to stop relying on Chris Nickson’s running ability when South Carolina comes to town this week.

The senior quarterback rushed 20 times for a career-high 166 yards in leading the Commodores to a 34-13 season-opening victory on Thursday at Miami (Ohio).

While such a workload raises questions about Nickson’s health, Coach Bobby Johnson said Monday his game plan for this week’s game will not change much.

“We know we’ve got to run the quarterback some to stay competitive, and it gives us a chance for some big plays,” Johnson said during his weekly news conference. “We want to regulate the amount of times he runs down the field, but it’s part of our offense and we’ve got to do it.”

Nickson missed the second half of the 2007 season partly due to injuries, including a separated shoulder. He deems himself healthy and prepared for the pounding of Southeastern Conference play.

“Whatever wins,” he said. “I’m a very effective runner and feel like I can make big plays with my running ability. If in any way the game plan sees fit that I run 30 times, I’m down for it as long as we’re winning.”

Johnson isn’t worried, either.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a concern,” he said. “Chris is stout. If you look at him on the field, you don’t realize how stout he is. He’s a big guy. He can hold his own.”

A healthy Nickson returned his old form last week. In 2006, he piled up 2,779 yards of total offense, the third-most ever in a season by a Vanderbilt player.

ACC honors two each from UNC, Miami. Two North Carolina standouts and two from Miami are among the Atlantic Coast Conference’s players of the week.

Return man Brandon Tate and defensive end E.J. Wilson were the Tar Heels honored Monday by the league for their performance against McNeese State.

They were joined by Hurricanes defensive lineman Spencer Atkins and freshman quarterback Jacory Harris, Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner, Georgia Tech offensive tackle Andrew Gardner and Virginia Tech cornerback Stephan Virgil.

FRESNO STATE 24, RUTGERS 7

At Piscataway, N.J., Ryan Mathews ran for 163 yards and three touchdowns, Seyi Ajirotutu set up two scores with long receptions and Fresno State made its first trip to the East Coast a successful one against Rutgers on Monday.

Injury report. Mississippi State senior linebacker Jamar Chaney has undergone surgery for a broken leg and is out for the season. ...

North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien said neither starting quarterback Russell Wilson nor tight end Anthony Hill is expected to play in the Wolfpack’s home opener against William & Mary. ...

Ohio State tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells did not practice with the second-ranked Buckeyes. Wells, who injured his right foot in Saturday's 43-0 victory over Youngstown State, continued to wear a protective boot on his right foot. ...

Virginia starting linebacker Aaron Clark, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound senior, will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury that will reguire surgery.

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